Five Reasons Nigeria Dropped On Corruption Perception Index

The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)/ Transparency
International (TI) Nigeria on Thursday released its 2020 Corruption Perception Index (CPI). 

According to the index, Nigeria experienced a striking decline, the worst the nation has seen since 2015.

The CPI aggregates data from 8 (eight) different sources that provide
perceptions by Nigeria’s business community and country experts on the level of corruption in the public sector.

Transparency International’s 2020 CPI showed that Nigeria scored 25 out of 100 points, dropping to 149 out of the 180 countries surveyed, taking the nation three steps down from the 146 scored in 2019.

A proper examination of the index as published by Transparency International shows that Nigeria’s decline in its corruption fight is predicated on five (5) weaknesses.

Below are the 5 reasons Nigeria dropped on the Corruption Perception Index for 2020.

1. Absence of transparency in the COVID-19 pandemic 

According to TI, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic out of Nigeria’s responsibility, there has been a lack of transparency in the emergency response of the government.

Coupled with the gap in coordination, the process has been fraught by the incessant flouting of procurement guidelines, hoarding of relief materials, and diversion of these materials which are then used as personal souvenirs presented to political party loyalists and close associates.

The agency said it is disturbing that in some cases, supplies donated by a group of well-meaning Nigerian business persons, corporate entities, development partners, and others under the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) were left inexplicably undistributed, and in some cases rotten, by the federal and state governments.

While these occurrences are not specific to Nigeria, citizens are yet to see concrete action by the anti-graft agencies on these issues.

2. Nepotism in the public service appointments and promotions 

In the past year, the anti-corruption agency said it witnessed nepotism and favoritism in the appointment and promotion of some public officers.

For example, all Nigerians remember the controversy which trailed the decision of the National Judicial Council (NJC) when at least 8 (eight) of the 33 judges recommended for appointment by the NJC were either children or relatives of current or retired Justices of the Supreme or Appeal Courts.

The Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in itself is not an exception with allegations of individuals promoted on the basis of their relationship and other affiliations as against merit and other criteria stated in the rule books.

Reports around the commercialization of employment into various institutions including admission into various tertiary educational institutions put the nation in a bad light. The extortion for the acquisition of services like healthcare, passports renewal, and obtaining of visas creates a negative perception of corruption in Nigeria.

3. Lack of adequate anti-corruption legal frameworks and interference by politicians in the operation of law enforcement agencies 

CISLAC/TI said it is not oblivious of some successes recorded by the Nigerian
government such as the Transparency portal managed and implemented by the Office of the Auditor-General.

According to CISLAC/TI, these activities have the potential to bring corruption and wastefulness of the government agencies at all levels to the end.

“We fully support this initiative”.

Important anti-corruption legislations such as the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA, 2020) and the Police Act 2020 undeniably signal a move in the right direction. However, more needs to be done to enact legislation and implement it.

The repeated failure to enact the Proceeds of Crime Act as a legal framework for the management and utilization of recovered assets in Nigeria which is one of the key pillars of this administration’s anti-corruption strategy is inexplicable!

There is still a lack of accountability in some quarters of government, especially in terms of beneficial owners of lucrative government contracts. Out of millions of corrupt transactions experienced annually, only a few hundreds of offenders are investigated, let alone convicted on corruption

The current scenario where different institutions like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Code of Conduct Bureau, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency the Nigerian Police, and other agencies overlap with mandates and lack synergy is not sustainable and have proven to be leeway to corruption.

The infighting and politicizing of the anti-corruption agenda may be evident by the way of suspending the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mr Ibrahim Magu. The accusation that he failed to give a proper account of assets recovered by his agency is questionably provided no clear legal and policy asset recovery framework exists.

CISLAC/TI pointed out that the theatric handling of the suspension of Mr. Magu could have been done better and this greatly contributes to the negative image of Nigeria’s anti-corruption campaign. The absence of a Whistle Blower Protection Legislation leaves Nigerian anti-corruption agencies deprived of key insider intelligence without which an anti-corruption crusade is a mission impossible.

4: Prevalence of bribery and extortion in the Nigerian Police 

The year 2020 witnessed the #EndSARS protests which saw young people across the nation demanding an end to police brutality and corruption. A factor that led to this protest was widespread bribery and extortion by law enforcement officials especially the police.

The first and second national corruption surveys conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in partnership with the government’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and released in 2017 and 2019 both showed the Nigerian Police is the institution with the highest prevalence of bribery amongst the institutions measured.

While there have been commendable efforts by the Police Complaints Response Unit (CRU) in reducing police abuses, there is a need to scale up the efforts of the unit to meet the demands of citizens as contained in the Police Act 2020.

5. Security sector corruption 

From violent extremism and insurgency to piracy, kidnapping for ransom, attacks on oil infrastructure, drug trafficking, and organized crime, Nigeria
faces a host of complex security challenges.

These threats typically involve irregular forces and are largely societally based. They are most prevalent and persistent in marginalized areas where communities feel high levels of distrust toward the government—often built up over many years. At their root, these security challenges are symptoms of larger failures in governance.

As many of Nigeria’s security threats are domestic in nature, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) is often the primary security interface with the public. However, low levels of public trust in the police inhibit the cooperation needed to be effective against these societally based threats.

Nigeria’s security system is also perceived to be politicized. Leaders are often appointed based on their political allegiances rather than on their experience or capabilities in law enforcement. As a result, the quality of leadership at the helm of affairs suffers. Appointees under such circumstances feel loyalty to their political patron rather than to their institutions or citizens. How and to whom the law is applied is not consistent. Norms of professionalism and ethics are weakened.

The problem of non-meritocratic leadership is exacerbated by a command-and-control structure that is opaque, centralized, and often chaotic. security leaders who have not earned their position lose the respect of their colleagues, who are then more likely to abandon a unit when facing an armed threat. Insufficient understanding or commitment to effectiveness among a force’s leadership often
results in the neglect of training. Problems of police engagement with
communities are thus perpetuated.

The continuous opaqueness in the utilization of security votes contributes to corruption perception in the country and this process must be reformed especially when we have security agencies living and working in very poor conditions.

Multiple reports of police officers protesting non-payment of allowances for election duties are now seen. The result of this is the widespread kidnappings, banditry, and terrorism ravaging different parts of the country.

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