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Dariye, Nyame’s release major setback in Nigeria’s anti-corruption war, says TI

By Guardian Editor
01 February 2023   |   4:30 am
Transparency International (TI) yesterday released the 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). Published exclusively in Nigeria by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), the National Chapter of TI, the index reveals that Nigeria scored 24 out of 100 points in the 2022 CPI, compared to 24 points in the 2021 CPI.

President Muhammadu Buhari commissioning the 10 megawatts solar-powered electricity project sponsored by Nigerian Social Investment Agency (NSIA), in Kano State…yesterday. With him are Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano; Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning; Zainab Ahmed; Chairman, NSIA Board of Directors, Farouk Gumel; Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of NSIA, Aminu Umar-Sadiq and others.

Scores 24 out of 100 points in 2022 CPI
Ranks 150 out of 180 countries

Transparency International (TI) yesterday released the 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). Published exclusively in Nigeria by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), the National Chapter of TI, the index reveals that Nigeria scored 24 out of 100 points in the 2022 CPI, compared to 24 points in the 2021 CPI. There has been no change in country scoring between 2021 and 2022.

In the country comparison for the 2022 CPI, Nigeria ranks 150 out of 180 countries compared to 154 on the 2021 CPI results.

The CPI for Nigeria aggregates data from 8 different sources that provide perceptions by country experts and business people on the level of corruption in the public sector. While the index does not show specific incidences of corruption in the country, it indicates the perception of corruption in Nigeria. The index is impartial, objective and globally acknowledged as the most widely used cross-country parameter for measuring corruption.

According to a release signed by the Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), it is important to stress that this is not an assessment of Nigeria’s anti-graft agencies who are making commendable efforts in the fight against corruption in Nigeria, despite the political interference they face. Rather, the CPI goes beyond the anti-graft agencies.

The CPI is usually released at the beginning of the year with the previous two CPI released on January 25 2022 and January 28, 2021 respectively. This CPI result comes less than a month to Nigeria’s general elections, which are crucial not just to Nigeria, but Africa. While Nigerians had high expectations that this regime could address corruption, the CPI index for the country has remained consistently low in the last 10 years.

The data used for the CPI is not collected by CISLAC/TI-Nigeria but by independent and reputable organisations with sound research methodologies.
CISLAC/TI-Nigeria notes that while Nigeria moved four places up on the country ranking, Nigeria maintained its previous score of 24, which is its lowest score on the CPI since 2012. This suggests a slowdown in the steady decline observed in the previous 3 CPI’s.

Accordingly, CISLAC/TI-Nigeria has listed key areas to explain why Nigeria may not have either moved downwards or upwards on the 2022 CPI score. Some of these are positive, while others are negative.

Some of the positive points are seen below:
Strength 1: The passage of key legislations
The passage of the Electoral Act 2022 has helped to strengthen Nigeria’s electoral system. This has further improved citizens’ confidence in the electoral process. The Act compliments the 1999 Constitution especially in areas relating to political party financing, and we would like to call on INEC to ensure that it plays its role in ensuring integrity in the conduct of political parties as envisioned in the 1999 Constitution and the Act.

The passage of the Proceeds of Crime (and Management) Act 2022 is also an important step in strengthening Nigeria’s asset recovery process. We have also seen relevant state institutions take steps in compliance with this Act, and we would like to encourage them to implement the act fully.

Also, the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act 2022 has helped to strengthen Nigeria’s legal frameworks when it comes to the prevention and combatting of money laundering and related crimes.
Strength 2: Strengthened resolve of Anti-graft agencies despite political interference

We recognise the efforts of the relevant anti-graft agencies in addressing corruption despite the political interference and the lack of adequate resources they need to perform optimally. These efforts cut across increased convictions and investigations.
Having listed the positive areas, CISLAC/TI-Nigeria would like to highlight key weaknesses that will need to be improved.
Weakness 1: Pardon of convicted high profile individuals

The pardoning of certain individuals by the current administration in 2022 is a major setback in the efforts to address corruption in Nigeria. This singular act is damaging as it fails the test of equity and fairness as those pardoned were Politically Exposed Person (PEPs) and the poor citizens who have been jailed for similar crimes (or even lesser offences) were left out of the pardon. This not only dampened the confidence of citizens, but it also weakens the morale of anti-graft agencies that spent years, money and had their officials facing physical attacks during prosecution. In addition to this, it sends a negative message to the international community especially around sharing intelligence and cooperation on asset recovery, and other related matters. It greatly contributes to a negative perception about fighting corruption in the country.

Weakness 2: Prevalence of high-profile corruption

The prevalence of high-profile corruption remains a major challenge Nigeria currently faces. The recovery of N30 billion from the former Accountant General of the Federation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) goes to underscore how deep corruption is entrenched. In addition to this, is the failure to investigate and provide citizens with answers on previous leaks like the FinCen files, the Panama Papers, the Paradise Papers, and the Pandora Papers.

Weakness 3: Increase in oil theft.
The continuous occurrence of oil theft, which is happening despite the presence of numerous security agencies in Nigeria, and increased spending on security is a major challenge in Nigeria’s anti-corruption efforts. While oil producing countries are having increase in revenues, Nigeria’s 2022 oil earnings was plagued with numerous news of oil theft as Nigeria was unable to meet it’s Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries quota.

Weakness 4: Opaqueness of the subsidy regime

In 2022, Nigeria’s National Assembly approved N4 trillion as subsidy payments for the year 2022. This figure represented about twenty-five percent of Nigeria’s budget. Despite this, Nigerians were subjected to queues for most of 2022 to get Premium Motor Spirit (PMS). There was also a disparity in the price with citizens purchasing the product above the range in different parts of the country according to the National Bureau of Statistics. It is also important to add that there was an import of toxic fuel in 2022, and nobody has been held to account for this economic and financial crime.

Weakness 5: Lack of transparency and accountability in the security sector
The lack of transparency in Nigeria’s security sector has weakened the country. The year 2022 was a year of brazen attacks by different non-state actors who do not mean well for the country. Despite the numerous atrocities by violent non-state actors, citizens are yet to see individuals held responsible for these acts. CISLAC/TI-Nigeria and other partners have argued in the past that there is a nexus between corruption in the security sector and insecurity in Nigeria.

Weakness 6: Lack of transparency in constituency projects
The Zonal intervention projects also known as constituency projects have continued to be operated in an opaque manner, plagued with corruption. In November 2022, the Independent Corrupt Practice and Other Related offences Commission (ICPC) launched its fifth phase of Constituency and Executive project tracking. The ICPC in its fourth phase discovered N7.1 billion worth of padded projects, compelled different contractors to return to different sites to complete N10.9 billion naira worth of projects, while it recovered N6.8 billion naira worth of cash and assets.

Weakness 7: Judicial challenges
The Nigerian judiciary has also contributed to the challenges faced in tackling corruption in Nigeria. This was highlighted in 2022, which saw numerous election related court processes. Different Politically Exposed Persons sought controversial orders from the courts to perpetrate actions, which were against the public interest of citizens.
We have listed the strengths and weaknesses above. However, to ensure constructiveness, we would like to provide advice on the way forward with the following recommendations:
1. The presidency, INEC, political parties, security actors and other relevant bodies should ensure that the 2023 general elections are free, fair, and credible.
2. The presidency should ensure that adequate consultation is made with citizens, the media, civil society, and other actors before presidential pardons are granted.
3. The relevant anti-graft agencies should ensure that high profile corruption cases are pursued to their logical conclusion for the benefit of Nigeria and her citizens.
4. Agencies given the mandate to recover assets under the Proceeds of Crime (and Management) Act 2022 should ensure that they establish a database where information about assets in their custody is easily accessed by citizens in line with the Act and the proactive provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.
5. The Federal government should address the lingering issue of oil theft in the country.
6. There should be transparency in the petroleum subsidy process, and the relevant agencies should investigate and prosecute those found wanting.
7. The relevant agencies should investigate those behind the importation of toxic fuel to Nigeria in 2022.
8. There should be transparency and accountability in Nigeria’s Security sector.
9. The National Assembly should ensure transparency in the implementation of the constituency projects. The relevant agencies should ensure that those found guilty are brought to book.
10. With the elections fast approaching, the judiciary should ensure more than ever to deliver justice.
As we have always maintained, we are open to working with the relevant bodies on how to make Nigeria better for the interest of the Nation.
God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!