The global corruption tracking organization, Transparency International (TI), Thursday, released its 2020 annual report in which it scored Nigeria very low, thereby casting aspersions on the relentless efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to curtail the scourge of corruption and its ripple effects.
The latest TI’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) claims Nigeria scored 25/100 which is one point less than its 26 points in the previous year. It pegged Nigeria at 149 out of 180 countries, a record that is three steps lower than its rank of 146 in 2019.
One can hardly make any sense out of TI reports on Nigeria except that it has become a tool in the hands of some disgruntled elites who have made it a pastime to distract President Buhari from concentrating on the arduous task of repositioning Nigeria to restore the country’s former envious status.
In their monkeyshines some segment of the civil society organisations in Nigeria and TI seem to have lost every sense of reasoning. One of the areas the report made reference to was the hoarding of COVID-19 palliatives by states, not minding that President Buhari shares no blame because Nigeria practices a federal structure of government where the president cannot entirely dictate for the states governors on what to do. It is common knowledge that the federal government, in rolling out its palliatives to individuals, groups, organisations, businesses and school children, follow through to ensure 100 per cent implementation.
It is an indisputable fact that the Buhari administration has proven its disdain for corruption and has demonstrated such to the admiration of the rest of Africa and the world at large. So why the persistent angst from the enemies of Nigeria? It would be recalled that the African Union (AU) in recognition of President Buhari’s anti-corruption efforts, named him the Champion of African Union anti-corruption. What else do these despicable detractors want?
Despite the effort the government under Buhari invested in setting up preventive mechanisms like IPPIS, Treasury Single Account, among others, the TI still went ahead to write what it likes because it has become a propaganda arm of the enemies of Nigeria. Because of IPPIS, the federal government discovered over 70,000 ghost workers and saved over N206.
Isn’t it obvious that TI and its local collaborators have something up their sleeves? The TI’s report still went against Nigeria in a year President Buhari did not spare even the head of its anti-corruption outfit, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC). How can a fair report indict Nigeria when Buhari has blocked perceived leakages in government, including faulty contract-bidding process and lack of financial documentation, which has made it more difficult to indulge in brazen corrupt practices?
For the umpteenth time, President Buhari has demonstrated that he is a father who does not spare even his own children. We all know how he vehemently opposed the 8th Senate in their subtle moves to truncate the appointment of Ibrahim Magu as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. But when the president found reason to come against Magu, he did not hesitate because he will not tolerate anyone with a stained record working with him. In the Buhari anti-corruption fight regime, no one is too powerful to be touched.
The anti-corruption commission has had a busy time prosecuting alleged corrupt individuals and politicians. We are all aware that three former governors, Rev Jolly Nyame, Joshua Dariye and Orji Uzor Kalu were prosecuted and sentenced under the Buhari administration. One of the governors who were convicted is not only a card carrying member of the president’s party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), but also an elected public office holder.
As a fellow of Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies Geneva, I have embarked on a series of global research on international miscellaneous offences and corruption in developed countries like Russia, France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. From my findings, it is quite rare in these countries for a ruling party to investigate, prosecute, convict and jail a state governor from the ruling party But the Buhari administration has made it clear from convictions secured under his watch that whether you are a state chief executive under his party or a member of his family, you would not be spared once you are found guilty.
Transparency International, failing to do minimal research that any right-thinking and credible governance index and data collation organisation would attempt, jumps to the conclusion that Nigeria scored 25 out of 100 points in its 2020 CPI. At least TI should have cross checked Nigeria’s recent legal records and the convictions secured by its anti-corruption agencies to know the extent to which the anti-corruption fight had gone before rushing to the public to colour our great country black.
Needless to remind the TI of the unwavering efforts the Buhari-led government has done to recover the $2bn ‘arms gate’. There is no gainsaying President Buhari’s relentless efforts at ensuring that the humongous amount involved is recovered demonstrates the fact that Nigeria is in a new era for good.
For the records, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC) has been a held down ‘fat cow’ for elites from the Niger Delta Region. It was until the President Buhari era that we are getting to know the truth of what is going on at the NNDC. As a swift leader that he is, President Buhari immediately ordered a thorough forensic investigation. It is important to drum into the ears of TI informants that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government has demonstrated enough openness and accountability in the governance process.
It is clear from the distortions and lies spewed in the TI report that their stool pigeons have lost their sense of reasoning that they forgot so soon that Chief a chairman of the defunct Special Presidential Investigation Panel was arrested on March 20, 2020 by the ICPC after many months of his refusal to honour the invitations of the commission requesting him to appear for investigation on the allegations of sundry breaches of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 as well as other allied criminal statutes. If not for their desperate attempt to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it, how else should an administration demonstrate total commitment to the ongoing war against corruption?
President Buhari is not unaware that despite the massive achievements in the anti-corruption front, there is still a lot that needs to be done. TI should not pretend it does not know that when you fight corruption, it naturally would fight back until finally defeated.
In any case, fighting corruption is never a tea party. They critics must realise that corruption is a highly organised industry supported by a large and materially fortified army comprising powerful mafia-like fraternities in public and private arenas as well as influential persons, they have all managed to secure a strong grip on strategic spheres of the nation. To therefore think that they will suddenly surrender to the anti-graft war of the government is wishful thinking, to say the least.
Ibrahim is director, Communications and Strategic Planning, Presidential Support Committee (PSC).