Abuja — THE Presidency, yesterday, took the rating of the global anti-corruption body, Transparency International, TI, that Nigeria ranked 35th most corrupt country in the world in good fate, just as the Federal Government said it was a wake up call to fight corruption to a zero level.
According to the Federal Government, President Goodluck Jonathan has put in place a systemic attempt at removing corruption from the source where there will be no money to steal.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, Senior Special Assistant to President Jonathan, Dr. Doyin Okupe, however, described as unfounded, accusations that $31 billion(N5 trillion) has been stolen under President Goodluck Jonathan's 30-month stewardship of our nation's affairs.
Okupe who disclosed that there was corruption in Nigeria before the government of President Jonathan, stressed that the President, unlike the past administrations, had developed a stone heart to fight corruption especially against the backdrop that he is after those who have looted the nation's money irrespective of those involved, adding that at the end of the day, the president would be vindicated.
He said: "This is where we also run into problem because the President and this administration are unearthing corruption. He is not closing his doors, providing coverage. If the government says there is corruption here, let's investigate it, show us the figures. Critics are now saying that because I say this house is dirty and not clean, I am a dirty man.
"No, the man who blew the whistle, the man who unearths the evidences cannot be the culprit. If other governments have not done it and the fact that this government is going and it is allowing these things to be done, you cannot now say that under Jonathan, there is so much corruption.
Corruption existed before Jonathan
"Corruption has existed before Jonathan, but Jonathan, unlike the past administrations, has developed heart of stone to actually unearth the corruption no matter where it is or who is concerned. But because the figures are thrown up and they are true figures, people now say N240 billion pension funds stolen under Jonathan. That is not correct, that is not true. Jonathan is the one unearthing the corruption, so you cannot blame him."
Signing of FoI Act, other reforms
According to him, the signing of the Freedom of Information Act by the President, pension reforms where billions have been recovered; fertilizer management reforms; power sector reforms; oil and gas reforms; electoral reforms; ports reforms, job creation; legal and judicial reforms, among others that have been carried out by the President were serious indications of his total commitment to fight corruption and bring to book those involved.
On TI rating
Okupe who described the Transparency rating which placed Nigeria as number 139 out of 178 in the corruption list as mere perception which might not necessarily be a reality, stressed that the Federal Government would, however, not relent in battling and fighting corruption, adding that the government will not condone or protect corruption, but would combat same.
According to him,"the Transparency International ratedNigeriaas number 139 in the world out of 178 As the word particularly said, it is the corruption perception index and you know that perception in technical terms is different from the reality. If over a period of time, some perceptions have settled in the minds or certain sections, when changes do take place, there is a large period for these changes to affect the perception because of this and various other reasons.
"We may not take up issues with the Transparency International more especially when you recognise that the Transparency International uses multiple sources to carry out survey and get samples of public perception through a variety of questions. Some of the questions are: do you trust your government, is corruption a big problem in your country?"
The Presidential aide who noted that the large aspect ofNigeriamedia and the very large population of readership might have contributed to the perception that has been created by the Transparency International, said: "It also relies on a network of local correspondents and expert opinions within and outside the country and usually as reported in the media.
"So, in a country likeNigeriawhich in terms of media vibrancy, it is much more easier for perception to be accepted by the reporting in our local media.
"In countries likeTogo,Malithat have just a few national dailies, that the media is not so vibrant, you have less information.
"Then you should understand that in Nigeria with what we do here, for instance the Minister of Finance during discussions with her recently told me that several ratings worldwide --Fitch, SIP and so many-- have rated Nigeria in terms of economic performance as very good, were hardly reported in our media.
A wake up call
"I understand the old adage that good news is no news. It is when you say thatNigeria is rock bottom in something that is when we make the headlines. But because we have more media, more reportage and more vibrancy,Nigeria is more exposed.
"The government will take this rating as a further wake up call to continue in its focus to battle and fight corruption. The government will be unrelenting and the whole purpose of this press briefing is to acquaint you with the efforts of government to tackle corruption. It is important for us to let you know because if you do not know and you do not publish, we cannot blame you.
"The war on corruption is being engaged head-on and systematically, with the requisite political will and vigour and it will take the commitment of all and not just President Jonathan and team, to see it fruition."