Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has advised “the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to see the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) as a wake-up call to renew its oft-expressed commitment and raise its game to fight corruption.” Transparency International’s report last week, had noted that the perception of corruption had worsened under President Muhammadu Buhari.
The report indicated that “the perception of corruption in Nigeria worsened between 2016 and 2017.” However, the Presidency had criticised the global watchdog, saying that TI was publishing fiction.
But SERAP, in a statement issued yesterday by its Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, said, “while TI’s index only measures perceptions of corruption, their findings correspond substantially with the reality of impunity of perpetrators, as demonstrated by the low conviction rate, the authorities’ slowness to adopt and implement critical reforms, appearance of selectivity in the anti-corruption fight, apparent complicity of key officials and cover-up, as well as unaddressed alleged corruption against several state governors.
“The authorities should take the report seriously and use it as an opportunity to raise their game in their efforts to rid our country of corruption and underdevelopment. “The government should make no mistake about this: Nigerians know corruption when they see it.
Rather than simply criticising TI as publishing fiction or going after its board members, the government should accept the fact that its oft-expressed commitment to fight corruption has not gone to plan.” Continuing, it said, “the CPI may not be perfect, and in fact no index is.
The CPI may not show actual evidence of corruption in the country, but perceptions are commonly a good indicator of the real level of corruption. In any case, the devastating effects of corruption in virtually all sectors providing essential public services are too glaring for Nigerians to ignore.
“While the government may have blocked some leakages in the systems and reduced the level of impunity witnessed under the previous administrations, it has not done enough to address longstanding cases of corruption, and the appearance of selectivity in the prosecution of corruption allegations, especially when such cases involve those close to the seat of power.
“Today, corruption still constitutes one of the greatest threats to the country’s sustainable and equitable development. Almost three years after taking office, and promising to fight grand corruption, no ‘big fish’ suspected of corruption has yet been sent to jail.
“The situation has not significantly improved, and it seems unlikely that many of those facing grand corruption charges will be successfully prosecuted. Nigerians need to see real commitment and heavy investment in promoting a culture of clean government, and total obedience to the rule of law. “Possessing the political will to fight corruption is not in itself enough if it’s not sufficiently demonstrated.
Buhari should take the CPI to heart and initiate and actively facilitate the passing of tough anti-corruption laws, strengthening the capacity and independence of anti-corruption agencies, substantially improving the criminal justice system, obeying decisions and judgments of our courts, and ensuring the passing of the Whistle-blower Bill.
“Public officials still use political power to enrich themselves without considering the public good. Selective application of the law is a sign that the law is not being followed strictly enough, and that the fight against corruption is not maximally prosecuted.
“In several states of the federation and federal ministries, corruption is taking place every day and every hour, especially in the power sector, the education sector, the water sector, the health sector and other important public sectors.
“Corruption continues to directly affect the lives and well-being of millions of Nigerians across the country, and to erode public trust in public institutions and leaders, threatening the foundation of our democracy.”