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CSOs, FG disagree on Nigeria’s new corruption rating

Transparency International Nigeria says Nigeria now ranks 145 out of 180 on the Corruption Perception Index.

The latest index, recently released by TI, indicated that Nigeria moved up five places from previous CPI ranking released in 2022.

In the previous report, Nigeria was ranked 150 out of 180 countries on the scale of corruption.

The latest report, which is the first released under President Bola Tinubu, showed that Nigeria  ranked 145 out of 180 countries and scored 25 out of 100 points.

The CPI score indicates the perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of 0 (representing highly corrupt), to 100 (representing least corrupt perception).

Reacting on Tuesday, the Federal Government described the country’s new ranking  as “sweet news” and a demonstration of the Tinubu’s administration’s “steady progress” in its anti-corruption campaign.

The Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, in an interview with , said though the difference might not be significant, “it shows that our country is making a steady progress.”

He said, “If we were ranked 150 before and we are now 145, that for me is some progress. Slowly but surely, we shall get there.

 “I think what this government has done in removing fuel subsidy alone was like ending a cesspool of corruption.

 “The whole thing about subsidy was always reeking of corruption. So, by removing it, the President was actually dealing with the corruption cartel who have been milking the country dry for many years.”

Onanuga also cited the unification of the exchange rates, saying it represented a major part of President Tinubu’s drive to end corruption.

 “That is what you’ll see in also harmonising the exchange rates. It is also fighting corruption as well. Some privileged Nigerians had been getting this money at the official rate and then round-tripping it in what the corruption monitors will call arbitrage and then making a lot of profit by selling the same money in the BDCs.

 “So, at least we can see that the two reforms that the President has instituted were meant to tackle corruption. Not to talk about the suspension of a minister who appeared to have been violating financial rules.

 “This is one sweet news to savour that, at least, we are doing something. We have moved upwards,” he stated.

But civil society organisations said there was nothing cheering about the new corruption rating, saying it should be a call for the government to tighten its belt in the anti-corruption war.

Reacting through its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oludare, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project said, “These rankings have shown more than anything else that Nigeria needs to work more on our transparency and accountability systems. This must be interpreted by those in government to mean that they have more work to do. Even Transparency International has made clear that small fluctuations or changes as we have in the case of Nigeria are entirely insignificant. I do not think this is something that should be celebrated at all.

“As to recommendations to the government and anti-corruption agencies, they must be seen and perceived as being transparent and accountable.”

Similarly, the  Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Musa Ibrahim Rafsanjani, said the Tinubu administration would need to make “dramatic efforts” and many steps in the right direction, to improve the numbers in the coming years.

“This shift is not significant; that’s why we are encouraging the government to do more so that we can make progress. Look at the chart in the last 10 years of Nigeria’s rating. You will see that it was only in 2016 that we made a significant shift, and that is because at that time, President Buhari had made some commitments and Nigerians began to see that corruption is not welcome. Until we dramatically deal with these issues, we are not going to get any shift. So, this one-point shift is not enough to think that you are fighting corruption,” he said.

On his part, the Executive Director of the Rule of Law Accountability and Advocacy Centre, Okechukwu Nwagunma, described the increase as “motion without movement”, adding that the numbers were not indicative of any serious progress or improvement, and stated that President Tinubu must demonstrate commitment to fighting corruption.

 “The improvement as it seems, is marginal. And a different assessment might give a different result. So, for me, that margin is not enough to indicate serious progress or improvement. Considering the fact of the recent scandalous revelations that Nigerians have been exposed to, concerning corruption by officials in the federal government.

 “We haven’t seen any further measures beyond saying that this Minister has been suspended for further investigation.

 “So, if you ask me, from what we see and hear every day, there is nothing. We are seeing the trend of the same old stories of massive corruption, corruption with impunity, and no serious steps to check corruption. We are just moving round and round, it is just motion without movement. There is no genuine commitment to tackle corruption and it’s going to get worse,” he said.

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