…Now ranks 145 out of 180 countries surveyed
Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Nigeria has gained five points in the 2023 Corruption Perception Index ( CPI), released today ( January 30) by the Transparency International (TI).
The index is published exclusively in Nigeria by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), the National Chapter of TI.
According to the latest index, Nigeria scored 25 out of 100 points in the 2023 CPI, compared to 24 points in the 2022 CPI.
Nigeria now ranks 145 out of 180 countries compared to 150 on the 2022 CPI results.
Nigeria’s score is below the Sub-Saharan African average of 33 points.
The publication signed by CISLAC Executive Director, Auwal Ibrahim Musa, further indicated that most African countries showed stagnation.
Analysis of the report also showed that 90 per cent of countries in sub-Saharan Africa scored under 50.
The CPI for Nigeria aggregates data from eight 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,” the release from CISLAC said.
Continuing, it said: “In this year’s CPI release, it is important to highlight that this is not an assessment of Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies which are making commendable efforts in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
“The data used for the CPI is not collected by CISLAC/TI-Nigeria but by independent and reputable organisations with rigorous research methodologies.”
It further noted that the CPI is highly consequential as governments, business entities, civil society organisations and others direct their decisions based on this assessment.
“It is important to highlight that this is the first CPI under this (President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s) administration thus, it will be used as a benchmark for subsequent years.
Meanwhile, CISLAC/TI-Nigeria has listed key areas to explain why Nigeria showed some improvement and areas where gaps persist.
Some of the positive points include: the launch of the Beneficial Ownership Register; and vibrant media, civil society and citizenry in demanding transparency and accountability.
“In May 2023, the Nigerian Government launched its Open Central Register of Beneficial Ownership which is also known as the Persons with Significant Control (PSC) register having passed a Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 202 which supports its establishment. This was also in line with Nigeria’s commitment at the London 2016 Anti-corruption summit.
“While the launch of this register does not solve the challenge of procurement fraud in public contracting through the use of corporate vehicles and companies by politicians, it was a step in the right direction.
“To this effect, we are calling on the government through the Corporate Affairs Commission to ensure that this register is updated with information on persons who have significant interest in companies. It is also paramount for the various anti-corruption agencies to work with the information in this register which is actionable intelligence.”
The release said that vibrant media and civil society groups have through their complementary efforts, constantly put the Nigerian government on its toes, through the constant highlight of issues militating against the national interest of the country.
“CISLAC/TI-Nigeria recognises this effort and we would like to encourage those from this concerned constituency to continue this approach,” the release said.
It further identified the arrests and recoveries by anti-corruption agencies as part of the reasons for the slight improvement.
“There have been arrests and recoveries of proceeds of crime by Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies. For example, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC) through its Constituency and Executive Project Tracking Initiative has recovered billions of Niara in diverted constituency and executive projects.”
“Furthermore, the investigation of a handful of present and past public officials by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) provides a ray of hope. However, it is important to highlight that these agencies need to thoroughly investigate and prosecute high-profile individuals without political interference.”
CISLAC/TI-Nigeria also highlighted key weaknesses that would need to be improved.
They include: Electoral corruption, judicial corruption, corruption in the security sector, opaqueness of public institutions, among others.
“Nigeria’s 2023 general elections dashed the hopes of Nigerians who were hoping for a better electoral process despite the passing of the 2022 Electoral Act,” the report said.
“According to the European Union (EU) Observation Mission1, “The 2023 general elections did not ensure a well-run transparent, and inclusive democratic process as assured by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Public confidence and trust in INEC were severely damaged during the presidential poll and was not restored in state level elections…”
“This abysmal performance by Nigeria’s electoral umpire saw numerous litigation cases being sent to the courts in Nigeria. The poor performance of the election fails to justify the huge resources allocated to INEC for the conduct of the elections.”
It further read: “Judicial corruption with the disappointing conduct of the 2023 general elections in Nigeria, the Nigerian judiciary was expected to display independence and dispatch justice transparently as well as in equity and fairness. However different conflicting rulings by the different courts have questioned the independence and integrity of the judiciary as an institution. This has thrown up the discussion on the need for effective judicial oversight.”
The report recommended that the independence of the Nigerian justice system needs to be strengthened to shield it from interference.
“Merit-based promotion and appointments should be carried out rather than political appointments. This will help win back the trust of the citizens in the judiciary.”
It also recommended that there should be a proper integrity monitoring mechanism in the Nigerian judiciary.
This, it said, should cover whistleblowing and other reporting channels, adding that it should also cover the disclosure of assets and conflicts of interest.
It further said: “Our electoral system needs to be reformed to regain the lost trust of the citizens. The Beneficial Ownership Register should be regularly updated with information and citizens should also be granted access.
“The relevant anti-corruption agencies should ensure that high-profile corruption cases are pursued to their logical conclusion for the benefit of Nigeria and its citizens. They should also explore international alternatives in cases of grand corruption that are transnational.
“Government agencies should disclose as much data as possible about government contracts in line with the proactive provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, the open government partnership and other international commitments Nigeria has signed onto.
It also recommended that “Impartial and unhindered investigation of security sector corruption must be prioritised to improve the deteriorating security across Nigeria.
“Security Votes and other secretive defence expenditures must be investigated by the civilian law enforcement agencies.”