Anti-Corruption: FG Slams Nigeria’s Low Ranking as Baseless

Anti-Corruption: FG Slams Nigeria’s Low Ranking as Baseless

… Says We’re Not Fighting Corruption Because We Want to Impress Any Organisation …Transparency International Has a Hidden Agenda—EFCC …Govt Needs to Tackle Corrupting Role of Big Money in Political Party Financing–TI The Federal Government says it will not be swayed by what it perceives as the “baseless” rating of the leading global anti-corruption group,

… Says We’re Not Fighting Corruption Because We Want to Impress Any Organisation

…Transparency International Has a Hidden Agenda—EFCC

…Govt Needs to Tackle Corrupting Role of Big Money in Political Party Financing–TI

The Federal Government says it will not be swayed by what it perceives as the “baseless” rating of the leading global anti-corruption group, Transparency International, which ranked Nigeria low in its latest international Corruption Perception Index, casting slur on the anti-corruption drive of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, gave the government position on Wednesday in London when he featured on respective interview session with some international media organisations. He had so far engaged with Reuters News Agency, BBC, Financial Times and The Guardian since he arrived London on Monday.

Reacting to the TI not too heart warming rating, the Minister said that the position by the organisation that Nigeria is doing worse in fighting corruption is incorrect and the government is unhappy about the development.

“In any event, we are not fighting corruption because we want to impress any organisation.

“We are fighting corruption because we believed that without fighting the menace, the much sought development will not happen and we have results to show for fighting corruption.

“We have put in place policies and legislations that have tamed the monster called corruption.

“For instance, apart from the TSA, which has saved us billions of Naira, we put in place transparency portal which enables every Nigerian to see how much is being spent by government every day.

“Under the transparency portal regulation, any expenditure above N5 billion must be reported and that gives every Nigerian the opportunity to know exactly what is going on.

“We will continue to fight corruption and we know that are winning the war,” he said.

The Minister stressed that for the first time in the history of the country, high profile people have been convicted of corruption charges.

“For those who say that the anti-corruption fight is selective, how do you say that when serving Senators and past Governors who are members of the ruling party are now serving jail terms,’” he said

Mohammed recalled that President Buhari in 2015, won election based on his avowed promise to fight corruption and was re-elected overwhelmingly in 2019 because of his achievements in that regard among others.

He, therefore, called on Nigerians to continue to support and encourage the government in the fight against corruption and disregard the baseless rating of the TI.

While earlier dismissing the ranking, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) described it as baseless and biased.

In a statement by its spokesperson, Mr Tony Orilade, the EFCC accused Transparency International of having a hidden agenda against Nigeria, chiding the global anti-graft agency of being consistent in its biased rating of Nigeria.

According to the spokesperson, the EFCC recorded unprecedented success in the fight against corruption in 2019.

In the latest TI rating, Nigeria was ranked 146 out of the 180 countries that were surveyed worldwide

By the rating, Nigeria slipped from 144th to 146th position in the Corruption Perception Index, falling by 26 points, a minus of one when compared to its score in 2018.

Nigeria is now ranked 146 out of the 180 countries on the 2019 Corruption Perception Index published by Transparency International, having dropped two places.

According to the report released last Thursday, the country scored 26 out of 100 points, dropping from the 27 points that it has maintained since 2017.

In the 2018 index, Nigeria rose by four places from 148 to 144.

The index ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption in the opinion of experts and business people, using a scale of 0 to 100, where zero means “highly corrupt” and 100 means very clean.

According to the report, “our analysis also suggests that reducing big money in politics and promoting inclusive political decision-making are essential to curb corruption.

“from fraud that occurs at the highest levels of government to petty bribery that blocks access to basic public services like healthcare and education, citizens are fed up with corrupt leaders and institutions”.

The sub-Saharan African region was also classified as the lowest-performing region while Western Europe was the highest-scoring region.

Of the 19 countries in the West African region, Nigeria was ranked the fourth most corrupt country.

Transparency International’s Chair, Ms Delia Ferreira Rubio asked the government to urgently address what she describes as the corrupting role of big money in political party financing and the undue influence it exerts on political systems.

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP), in a statement by its spokesman, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, said the rating validated its position that corruption had worsened under the administration of President Buhari.

The PDP described as a national embarrassment that under an administration by the same leader who wore the medal as “African Union Anti-Corruption Champion” and whose government boasted of zero tolerance for corruption, Nigeria ranked the fourth most corrupt country in West Africa.

He said the PDP had since been challenging the Buhari Presidency and the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) to come clean, account for the over N14tn allegedly stolen by the APC leaders from government coffers in the last four years.

Also, a leading advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), said Nigeria’s downward slip on the TI’s corruption perception Index should not come as a surprise to anyone.

SERAP’s Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oludare, said the 2019 TI Corruption Perceptions Index, which showed that Nigeria’s corruption rating had worsened from 2018, confirmed the belief that Buhari’s anti-graft war was backsliding.

The group advised the Federal Government to accept the report and implement the recommendations rather than dismiss it.

Oludare said, “Nigeria’s score on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index 2019 is hardly surprising but suggests that the fight against corruption in the country has not improved, and in fact remains at the level of the 2015 ranking in which Nigeria also scored 26.

“With an average of 32, sub-Saharan Africa’s performance paints a bleak picture of inaction against corruption.

“The authorities should not simply dismiss the ranking. Going forward, Nigerian authorities must embrace the recommendations by TI and set some benchmarks for anti-corruption improvements in the coming years,” the group says.

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