The Federal Government has berated Transparency International for naming Nigeria as the second most corrupt country in West Africa.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), said there was no evidence to back the report by TI which placed Nigeria at 146 out of the 180 countries on the 2019 corruption perception index.
Nigeria was named the second most corrupt country in West Africa only ahead of Guinea Bissau.
Groups, including the Peoples Democratic Party and Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, said the rating was an indication that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari’s (retd.) anti-corruption war had failed.
Rating has no bearing with reality — Malami
In an interview on Thursday, Malami said the TI’s report had no bearing on reality.
He said, “In terms of the fight against corruption, we have been doing more, we have done more and we will continue to do more out of inherent conviction and desire on our part to fight against corruption devoid of any extraneous considerations relating to the rating by Transparency International.
“Our resolve to fight corruption is inherent and indeed devoid of any extraneous considerations, we will continue to do more and we will redouble our efforts.”
Malami said there was nothing that had not been done as a nation in the fight against corruption.
Nigeria has slipped on the TI’s Corruption Perception Index 2019, scoring 26 per cent.
Nigeria scored 27 out of 100 in TI’s 2018 report but dropped by a point in 2019, making Africa’s most populous country take the 146th position.
The TI’s latest report states that Africa’s most populous country, like most other countries in Sub-Saharan nations, has continued to witness a high rate of corruption which had worsened due to vote buying.
The report shows that despite the corruption war being championed by Buhari in the last four and a half years, Nigeria has failed to score higher than 28 per cent.
Nigeria scored 28 out of 100 in 2016 and 2017 but fell in 2018 to 27 and fell further to 26 in 2019.
In the latest report, Nigeria scored the same as Iran, Honduras, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Mozambique and Angola.
Out of 180 countries surveyed, Nigeria scored better than only 28.
They include Comoros, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Eritrea, Nicaragua, Cambodia, Chad, Iraq, Burundi, Congo, Turkmenistan, Haiti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Guinea-Bissau, North Korea, Venezuela, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, South Sudan and Somalia.
The TI survey measures public sector corruption in 180 countries.
The countries with the highest scores were New Zealand and Denmark which both scored 87 out of 100.
Others that were highly placed include Finland (86), Switzerland (85), Singapore (85), Sweden (85), Norway (84), Netherlands (82), Luxembourg (80) and Germany (80).
TI report validates our stand — PDP
The PDP, in a statement on Thursday by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the rating validated its position that corruption had worsened under Buhari.
The PDP described as a national embarrassment that under an administration by the same leader who wore the medal as “African Union Anti-Corruption Champion” and whose government boasted of zero tolerance for corruption, Nigeria ranked the second most corrupt country in West Africa.
He said the PDP had since been challenging the Buhari Presidency and the APC to come clean, account for the over N14tn allegedly stolen by the APC leaders from government coffers in the last four years.
Buhari’s anti-graft war backsliding, says SERAP
On its part, SERAP said Nigeria’s downward slip on the TI’s corruption perception Index should not come as a surprise to anyone.
SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oludare, said the 2019 TI Corruption Perceptions Index, which showed that Nigeria’s corruption rating had worsened from 2018, confirmed the belief that Buhari’s anti-graft war was backsliding.
The group advised the Federal Government to accept the report and implement the recommendations rather than dismiss it.
Oludare said, “Nigeria’s score on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index 2019 is hardly surprising but suggests that the fight against corruption in the country has not improved, and in fact remains at the level of the 2015 ranking in which Nigeria also scored 26.
“With an average of 32, sub-Saharan Africa’s performance paints a bleak picture of inaction against corruption.
“The authorities should not simply dismiss the ranking. Going forward, Nigerian authorities must embrace the recommendations by TI and set some benchmarks for anti-corruption improvements in the coming years.”
Rating rubbished Buhari’s fight against corruption — CISLAC
On its part, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre said the 2019 CPI had rubbished Buhari’s fight against corruption, which started in 2015.
In a statement on Thursday by its Director, Auwal Rafsanjani, CISLAC said with government’s selective respect for rule of law; clampdown on journalists and activists; institutional corruption, including votebuying within political parties; and lack of transparency in the management of recovered loots, Nigeria’s corruption rating under Buhari could not but get worse.
Rating jaundiced, illogical — EFCC
But the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission condemned the TI’s report.
It faulted the ranking and described as appalling, “the bogus and ambiguous criteria used by TI to arrive at what can best be described as a jaundiced and illogical rating.”
The acting EFCC spokesman, Tony Orilade, said in a statement, “We insist that the rating is a far cry from the evident strides and achievements so far accomplished by the anti-graft agency in the fight against corruption, particularly under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.”
The agency further argued that the TI index did not show real incidence of corruption, “yet it claims that the report is a reliable indication of the perception of the Nigerian public and the international community about the state of corruption in the country.”
The EFCC contended that 2019 — the year under review by TI — was particularly a remarkable one as it secured a record 1,268 convictions, including that of a former state governor and a serving senator who was convicted for defrauding his state to the tune of N7.65bn.
The agency said it was on record that three former state governors were serving different jail terms in prison for defrauding their states and stealing from the treasury to enrich themselves and their cronies.
It noted, “The commission has also not given up on its unrelenting efforts to ensure that a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, is made to answer for the various malfeasance perpetrated under her, in spite of the obvious reluctance of the United Kingdom to repatriate her to Nigeria.”
The EFCC accused TI of failing to acknowledge its achievements, adding that the group has “its own hidden agenda.”
BMO faults TI corruption report
Also, the Buhari Media Organisation said the picture painted by TI was opaque and not a reflection of the reality on the ground.
In a statement by its Chairman, Niyi Akinsiju, and Secretary, Cassidy Madueke, the BMO said it was uncharitable for TI to conclude that the anti-graft war in Nigeria was not delivering results.
“Here is a group that went to some length to acknowledge that President Muhammadu Buhari has since 2015 introduced what it described as important reforms that have saved billions of naira.”