The Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), Salihu Lukman has described the 2020 Corruption Perception Index report of the Transparency International (TI) on Nigeria as attempts to influence the outcomes of the 2023 general elections.
In the recently released Transparency International 2020 report of Corruption Perception Index (CPI), Nigeria scored 25 out of 100 points, ranking 149 out of 183 countries surveyed.
Lukman in a statement titled: “Politicising Anti-Corruption Campaign in Nigeria” and made available to journalists in Abuja also described the report as a poor attempt at politicising the fight against corruption.
He urged Transparency International to go beyond perception and expose actual corruption as no government can be perfect or successfully eliminate corruption, noting that the CPI 2020 report on Nigeria presented a very bad approach to engaging the Nigerian government in the fight against corruption.
“It is a poor attempt to politicise the fight against corruption largely because it completely ignores all the empirical cases that should have provided objective indicators for the performance of Nigerian government. Beyond politics is also the funding reality, which has made Nigerian civil society groups to be very aggressive in legitimising the CPI 2020 report in Nigeria.
“The challenge to Nigerian civil society groups and patriots is really to rise above cheap smear campaigns based on perceptions and sentiments. Corruption is not a theoretical issue. It is a very practical challenge. It is beyond the perception of anyone. Where perception is to be our guide, we should be able to confirm it with evidence of reality. If TI can conveniently rely on perception, any serious Nigerian organisation should be able to corroborate perception with empirical cases of corruption.
“If one is to interpret the Nigeria CPI 2020 report, the conclusion is that the current government of APC under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has lost the fight against corruption. For us to be able to fight against corruption, based on the ‘perception by Nigerian businesses and country experts’, there has to be a change of government. This is the underlying narrative in the CPI report. It is basically more of a political campaign, if you like for 2023.
“Nigerians, including local leaders of civil society groups and their international partners are free to make their political choices and decisions. But they should be transparent about it. It mustn’t be a case of shadowboxing Nigerian citizens and forcing them to kowtow political choices fraudulently contrived because Nigerian citizens are committed to the fight against corruption”, he said.
Lukman while querying whether initiatives of government in the fight against corruption were taken into account by Transparency International said: “For instance, if bribes were collected by government officials, irrespective of whether it was as a result of demand by public officials or proactively done to secure contracts, to what extent are they being arrested? Are there prosecutions?
“How many arrests and prosecutions were there in 2020 for instance? What is the impact of arrests and prosecutions on the campaign against corruption in the country? Were there cases that should have been arrested but were not? Were there cases of poor prosecution?
“Without evidence to validate these allegations, any conclusion will be highly subjective. For instance, if there is lack of transparency in the management of Covid-19 responses, what are the specific issues? If it is about funding, how much funding have been allocated? How much of the funds is unaccounted for? Who is to account for the unaccounted funds?
“If it is about procurement, especially now that we are at a stage when the issue of vaccine procurement is a major challenge, how is government handling it? Beyond vaccine, in other cases of procurement under the management of Covid-19 pandemic, how have the handling of government procurement processes impacted on the management of the spread of the pandemic? Are there cases of embezzlement, misappropriation or fraud? What is the magnitude of public resources involved in these cases?
“The point about nepotism in public service appointment, popular as it may be, is subjective and may require a more holistic assessment of appointments made in order to validate any allegation of nepotism. To that extent therefore conclusions based on perception can only be subjective. The claim about lack of adequate anti-corruption legal frameworks is outrightly false in today’s Nigeria.
“It will appear that this is most likely reproduced from old reports of CPI before all the anti-corruption laws that led to emergence of EFCC, ICPC, etc. since 2001. It is this kind of conclusions that validates criticisms that the respondents used for the CPI surveys are foreigners whose mindset is hardly located in the country.
“The issue of legal framework in the case of Nigeria should be about reviewing our existing laws so as to strengthen the capacity of the country’s anti-corruption agencies to fight corruption. Related to this, is the need to streamline these agencies to make them more efficient. There is also the challenge of reorganisation such that our anti-corruption agencies are insulated from the negative influences of our law enforcement agencies”.