Despite Nigeria’s anti-corruption campaign, the country has dropped from 144 in 2018 to 146 in 2019 on the annual corruption perception index published by Transparency International.
The report revealed that Nigeria ranks 146 out of the 180 countries considered, behind Botswana (34), Rwanda (51) and Mauritius (56) among other African nations.
In 2017, Nigeria ranked 148, while it dropped to 144 in 2018. Nigeria’s current position me and the most populous black nation is two steps lower to 146 in 2019.
According to Transparency International, the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) shows corruption is more pervasive in countries where big money can flow freely into campaigns and where governments listen only to the voices of wealthy or well-connected individuals.
The index ranked 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, according to experts and business people. It uses a scale of zero to 100, where zero is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean.
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According to the report, more than two-thirds of countries score below 50, with an average score of just 43. Similar to previous years, the data shows that despite some progress, a majority of countries are still failing to tackle public sector corruption effectively.
The top countries (least corrupt) are New Zealand and Denmark, with scores of 87 each, followed by Finland (86), Singapore (85), Sweden (85) and Switzerland (85).
Meanwhile, the bottom countries (most corrupt) are Somalia, South Sudan and Syria with scores of 9, 12 and 13, respectively. These countries are closely followed by Yemen (15), Venezuela (16), Sudan (16), Equatorial Guinea (16) and Afghanistan (16).
In the last eight years, only 22 countries significantly improved their CPI scores, including Greece, Guyana and Estonia. In the same period, 21 countries significantly decreased their scores, including Canada, Australia, and Nicaragua.
On the other hand, the Sub-Saharan Africa’s country ranks the lowest-scoring region on the CPI, with an average of 32. The performance of Sub-Saharan Africa paints a bleak picture of inaction against corruption.
In its recommendation, Transparency International stated that to end corruption and restore trust in politics, it is imperative to prevent opportunities for political corruption and to foster the integrity of political systems.
As stated in the report, to end corruption, countries must manage conflicts of interest, control political financing, strengthen electoral integrity, regulate lobbying activities, tackle preferential treatment, empower citizens and reinforce checks and balances.
Basically, it was disclosed that governments should reduce the risk of undue influence in policy-making by tightening controls over the financial and other interests of government officials. Governments should also address “revolving doors”, establish cooling-off periods for former officials and ensure rules are properly enforced and sanctioned.
On political financing, it was stated that in order to prevent excessive money and influence in politics, governments should improve and properly enforce campaign finance regulations. Political parties should also disclose their sources of income, assets, and loans, and governments should empower oversight agencies with stronger mandates and appropriate resources.
It stated, “For democracy to be effective against corruption, governments must ensure that elections are free and fair. Preventing and sanctioning vote-buying and misinformation campaigns are essential to rebuilding trust in government and ensuring that citizens can use their vote to punish corrupt politicians.
“Governments should promote open and meaningful access to decision-making and consult a wider range of groups, beyond well-resourced lobbyists and a few private interests. Lobbying activities should be public and easily accessible.
“Governments should create mechanisms to ensure that service delivery and public resource allocation are not driven by personal connections or are biased towards special interest groups at the expense of the overall public good.
“Governments should protect civil liberties and political rights, including freedom of speech, expression, and association. Governments should engage civil society and protect citizens, activists, whistle-blowers, and journalists in monitoring and exposing corruption.”
# What it means for Nigeria
Corruption remains one of the most endemic issues affecting development in Nigeria. Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari stated that corruption was the major factor responsible for the suffering of millions of Nigerians.
According to the President, corruption at all levels was the biggest problem impeding Nigeria’s economic growth and development.
“I urge you now to always see corruption in its true colour as a gross violation of human rights. Corruption is the major reason why millions of our people are in hardship, sick and helpless. Our fight against corruption is, in reality, a struggle for nation-building and the future. Corruption and impunity become widespread when accountability is disregarded.
“Disrespect for accountability also strives when people get away with all manner of questionable things and accountants are unable to check them. Corruption is the major reason why many children cannot go to school, why we have a few equipment and doctors in our hospitals. Corruption diverts public resources thereby causing much suffering, deprivation and unnecessary death in the country.”
Meanwhile, critiques of the government continue to stress that the corruption campaign of the current administration is selective, claiming that some political office holders and government officials are left to walk away despite money laundering and other corruption charges levied against them.