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Corruption still pervasive despite Buhari’s promises, TI, CISLAC insist

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Transparency International (TI) and the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) have alleged that corruption remains pervasive under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

Coming a few days before the commencement of Buhari’s second term in office, the groups fear that graft may still remain intractable even under the next dispensation if the administration does not extend the anti-corruption fight beyond hounding the opposition.

Speaking at a media briefing in Abuja yesterday, Chair, TI Nigeria and Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, demanding an urgent intervention as the new cabinet was being anticipated, saying Buhari’s government has largely fallen short of delivering on anti-corruption commitment to Nigerians and the international community.

“Although Buhari had from the on set of his administration in May 2015, promised to rid Nigeria of corruption, civic society organisations believe that corruption has increased exponentially across sectors and tiers of government in the country.
“Having observed the disturbing trends, events and occurrences in our dear nation; noting the responses from government, groups and different stakeholders, CISLAC) and TI state with concern that corruption remains pervasive in Nigeria,” Rafsanjani said.

The groups argued that in the oil and gas sector for instance, the reforms meant to address corruption in the extractive sector have fallen short of desired goals in the past four years.”The recurrent lapses and loss to the nation in oil and gas revenue as revealed in report by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), which indicate poor attitude towards implementation of previous report, failure to pass the elusive Petroleum Industry Bill into law, exemplify this,” he said.

Although the groups acknowledged that the administration put in place the first-ever National Anti-Corruption Strategy in 2017, it noted that little has been done to put the strategy in motion.The last four editions of the TI’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) are a testament to a slow or even stagnant progress in the fight against corruption in the last four years with Nigeria scoring 27 out of 100 points in the 2018 CPI, same score as 2017 CPI and ranked 144 out of 148 in 2017 CPI.

“The scores mean that there was no change in the country’s corruption perception. Nigeria has not improved in the international comparison with regard to perception of corruption,” Rafsanjani stated.He said implementation of key anti-corruption strategies such as Freedom of Information, whistleblower regime, public procurement, judicial, educational, land, beneficial ownership, security, as well as oil and gas reforms, among others were marred in loopholes that made mockery of the anti-corruption crusade.

The groups asked President Buhari to scrap what they described as “Senseless Security Votes, which accounts for around N241.2 billion annually, a sum that exceeds 70 per cent of the annual budget of the Nigeria Police Force.They also demanded that the President should make defence of budgets more accessible for public scrutiny; appoint civilian oversight for military procurements and encourage the culture of reporting corruption within the rank and file of the Nigerian Armed Forces.

On the whistle blowing, they urged government to pass the Whistleblower Protection Bill, as a tool for sustening fight against money laundering; ensure vibrant judicial system for judicious interpretation and implementation of the legislation, as well as enable policy for protection of whistle-blowers.

This, they argued, would encourage constant reporting or information on misconducts and corrupt practices, discourage victimisation and unjust treatments against whistle-blowers, as well as strengthen whistleblowing mechanisms by anti-graft institutions within public offices using Anti-corruption and Transparency Monitoring Unit.


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