TI blames weak institutions for rising corruption

. As Nigeria drops 5 places in CPI ranking

The Nigerian chapter of Transparency International (TI), the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), has attributed the rising levels of corruption in Nigeria to weak institutions.

This comes as Nigeria dropped five places in the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranking released on Tuesday by Transparency International (TI).

The CPI is TI’s tool for measuring the levels of corruption in the systems of various countries around the world. The maximum points a country can score is 100 points, and the least is zero. Zero signifies the worst performing countries and 100, the best-ranked.

Nigeria scored 24 out of 100 points, and was ranked 154 out of 180 countries surveyed, falling back five places from the rank of 149 in 2020, thereby placing it as the second most corrupt country in West Africa.

It is Nigeria’s second consecutive year of a downward spiral on the TI’s CPI ranking, the country’s score having dropped from 26 in 2019 to 25 in the 2020 assessment, and further to 24 in the latest 2021 record.

The CPI result comes when Nigeria is battling with insecurity, unemployment and damning revelations on public finance management, and a host of others.

Speaking at the official launch of the CPI 2021, in Abuja, CISLAC’s Executive Director, Auwal Rafsanjani, noted that “while the index does not show specific incidences of corruption in the country, it indicated the perception of corruption in Nigeria.”

He cited the failure to investigate high profile corruption cases and prevent illicit financial flows (IFFs), as well as the absence of asset recovery, as some of the factors increasing corruption in Nigeria.

He added that the lack of protection for whistle-blowers and other key anti-corruption legal frameworks, judiciary challenges, security sector corruption, among others, were some of the key elements fuelling corruption.

CPI assessment

CISLAC/TI-Nigeria explained that the CPI result does not include the assessment of Nigeria’s anti-graft agencies who are making commendable efforts in reducing (in the fight against) corruption in Nigeria.

The group said the data used for the CPI was not collected by either CISLAC/TI-Nigeria or any of its partners, but by independent and reputable organisations with sound methodologies.

Also, the score, according to the organisation, does not reflect specific instances of corruption in the country, but rather the perception of corruption.

It therefore stressed the need to work on the identified key weaknesses stalling the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

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

Internal weaknesses

For the Deputy Director, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Kolawole Oluwadare, internal control weaknesses are the major causes of corruption in the country.

He cited the Non-Compliance/Internal Control Weaknesses Issues in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) report for 2019, as a case in point.

Oluwadare said the report, published by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation in November 2021, had left Nigerians in awe due to the level of financial recklessness, abuse of budgetary processes, and failure of MDAs to follow the due process of appropriation as disturbing.

“For example, the Auditor General revealed that the sum of N49billion was spent by nine MDAs, without appropriation by the National Assembly. This is in gross violation of Section 80 (4) of the 1999 Constitution (As Amended).”

Contributing, Project Coordinator at Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development (PRIMORG), Ms Adaobi Obiabunmuo, believes preventing illicit Financial Flows (IFFs), the absence of asset recovery and absence of protection for whistle-blowers are responsible for Nigeria’s poor corruption perception.

She said: “When it comes to asset recovery, Nigerian anti-graft agencies have made progress in recoveries, specifically those that have been finally forfeited.

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

“While Nigerians read about these recoveries by the numerous agencies with mandates to recover assets, Nigerians are in the dark as to the status of these recoveries,” she said.

The Manager Budgit, Tolutope Aguloye, argued that corruption in the country is compounded by judicial challenges, corruption in the COVID-19 responses, Twitter ban, shrinking civic space and intimidation of human rights defenders.

He therefore called on the Nigerian judiciary to speed up delivery of judgements, adding that the delay in treating high profile cases of corruption had dampened the morale of anti-graft agencies.

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