May 22, 2024

Corruption in Nigeria: Perception or Reality? – Perspectives by Victor Ejechi

President Buhari arrives Abuja after his participation at the UK-Africa Investment Summit on 23rd Jan 2020
President Buhari arrives Abuja after his participation at the UK-Africa Investment Summit on 23rd Jan 2020

In Nigeria today, there are many unresolved problems, but the issue of the upsurge of corruption has been alarming. No doubt corruption has become endemic in Nigeria. The damages it has done to the polity are astronomical.

This menace has led to situations like the slow movement of files in offices, police extortion of toll fees, port congestion, queues at passport offices and petrol stations, ghost workers syndrome, election irregularities, among others.

Transparency International (TI) recently released their 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index and the report shows that Nigeria scored 26 out of 100 points and ranked 146 out of the 180 countries assessed.

In 2012, Nigeria was estimated to have lost over $400 billion to corruption since independence.

In 2018 the country ranked 144th in the 180 countries listed in Transparency International’s Corruption Index with Somalia, at 180th, is the most corrupt, and Denmark the least.

The average score across the 180 countries assessed was 43 while the sub-Saharan African average was 32. The report clearly shows that Nigeria failed to meet any of these average scores.

Taking a closer look at the report, you will discover that among the countries under the Economic Community Of West Africa States (ECOWAS), we only performed better than
Guinea-Bissau which was ranked 168.

The major revelation from the report shows that Nigeria is not making progress in the fight against corruption, rather we have gone worse than we were in 2018.

The report didn’t come without criticism from both the nation’s anti-corruption agencies: ICPC, EFCC, the Presidency, and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, as they have all taken similar positions condemning and challenging the methodology used by TI in carrying out the research. That was expected as it has been the tradition of government to celebrate when it favours them but cry foul when it doesn’t. 

Whether the federal government agrees with the report or not, it still won’t change the very fact that we run a corrupt system of government and lips service has been fighting corruption in Nigeria.

We need to build a strong system that is structured to fight corruption by itself irrespective of the government in power.

Corruption perception index & the government in power

In 1999 under President Olusegun Obasanjo, we scored 90 out of 90 which was the worst we have had and in 2006, there was an improvement being that we scored 142 out of 163.

In 2008 under President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, we saw some improvement compared to the last administration as we make progress in the way the world perceives us to be corrupt and we scored 121 out of 180 countries that were accessed. But that celebration was short-lived as we drop down again and scored 134 out of 178 in 2010. President Goodluck Jonathan who took over President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua could not build on his predecessor successes because, in 2012, Nigeria was scored 144 out of 175 and in 2014 we came to 136 out of 174 countries.  

President Mohammed Buhari became president in 2015, and in 2016 when the report was released, the administration was able to maintain the 136 positions out of 180 countries. 

This is true because of the body language of the president as regards to fighting corruption when he assumed office, that apparently sent in a silent message to all the sectors and institutions in the country.

The introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), which came as a quick fix the regulating the level of accountability and transparency in the financial resources of the government of the country, the declaration of his assets in 2015 to the Code of Conduct Bureau, his continuous speech on the fight against corruption etc. all contributed to while the perception of Nigerians to corruption did not increase, instead, it maintains the 136 positions.

The main perpetrators of corruption are the corrupter, the corruptee and the fence. They are the elites with social status, political, economic and/or bureaucratic power. The Nigerian public is the victims affected by corruption.

The fight against corruption is a fight everyone is responsible for but the government must set the tone and lead by example by putting in place impartial system and institutions that can deal with these issues without fear or favor.

Victor Ejechi writing from Lagos and can be reached via twitter on @victorejechi

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