Nigeria is still perceived as a country deep in corruption without clear policies to address the menace, Transparency International said on Tuesday.
The anti-corruption campaigner released its 2018 Corruptions Perceptions Index (CPI) Tuesday, finding Nigeria has "neither improved nor progressed in the perception of corruption in the public administration in 2018."
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Transparency International Chapter in Nigeria, said in a Tuesday morning statement to PREMIUM TIMES that "Nigeria scored 27 out of 100 points in the 2018 CPI, maintaining the same score as in the 2017 CPI."
In the country comparison, Nigeria ranks 144 out of 180 countries this year as opposed to 148 out of 180 countries in the 2017 CPI, the group added. Nigeria is thus still perceived as highly corrupt, and although the ranking shows that Nigeria moved up four (4) places, it only means that four other countries have scored worse while Nigeria stagnated.
The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) aggregates data from a number of different sources that provide perceptions by the business community and country experts of the level of corruption in the public sector.
The report may receive another knock from the Nigerian government, which often castigated past reports of the organisation. President Muhammadu Buhari dismissed the 2017 findings of Transparency International, suggesting that the group's findings were politically-motivated to deface his administration.
The president said his administration has done creditably well in stamping out corruption in the country, especially through its much publicised anti-corruption drive that has seen several politicians associated with the last administration of Goodluck Jonathan arrested.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, however, took a different approach to the 2017 report, which was released in February 2018, saying the government had taken it in good faith and would work to improve on its corruption perception by adopting some of the recommendations.
Transparency International, however, rejected allegations of bias in compiling its report, saying it follows strict aggregation standards which had earned it tremendous credibility amongst countries across the world in its 25 years.
In the case of Nigeria, the composite score consists of sources which include:
1. African Development Bank Perception Survey,
2. Bertelsmann Foundation Transformation Index,
3. Economist Intelligence Unit Country Ratings,
4. PRS International Country Risk Guide,
5. World Bank Corruption Perception Assessment,
6. the World Economic Forum Executive Opinion Survey;
7. World Justice Project Rule of Law Index and
8. Varieties of Democracy Project.
"All are impartial, well-respected, statistically significant and evidence-based sources," the group said.
Transparency International in its 2017 report identified public procurement fraud as constituting a large chunk of corruption in public service and recommended immediate constitution of public procurement council as one of the ways to address the menace.
Some top administration officials responded by promising to establish the council promptly as recommended by the Public Procurement Act 2007. Over a year on, however, the council has not been constituted, and procurement remained enmeshed in suspected fraud.
In December 2017, shortly before Transparency International published its report, PREMIUM TIMES reported that Mr Buhari has followed his predecessors in violating the procurement law by failing to constitute the council and allowing non-transparent contracts to pass through.
The presidency, in a statement by Garba Shehu, replied at the time, claiming the committee was being constituted and would kick off within weeks, a claim that turned out false.
Transparency International's Nigerian arm, CISLAC, strongly believed that eliminating corruption from public service would propel Nigeria's economic standing amongst the rest of the world.
In its latest statement, CISLAC repeated some of its past antidotes for corruption as follows:
- Strengthening the institutions responsible for maintaining checks and balances over political power, and ensuring their ability to operate without intimidation.
- Closing the implementation gap between anti-corruption legislation, practice and enforcement.
- Supporting civil society organisations which enhance political engagement and public oversight over government spending, particularly at the state and local level.
- Supporting a free and independent media, ensuring the safety of journalists and their ability to work without intimidation or harassment.