The Transparency International (TI) and affiliated Civil Society Organizations on Thursday explained how kidnaping, mismanagement of COVID-19 and other forms of maladministration hindered Nigeria’s anti-corruption efforts.
This is contained in the the Corruption Perceptions Index 2020 titled “Corruption in Pandemic Response and Law Enforcement drags Nigeria’s corruption perception further down.”
Published exclusively in Nigeria by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), the National Chapter of TI, the index shows that Nigeria scored 25 out of 100 points in the 2020 CPI, falling back by one point compared to 2019 when it scored 26.
According to the report, in countries’ comparison for this year, Nigeria ranks 149 out of 183 countries, three places down compared to 2019 results.
The report was jointly signed by the CISLAC/TI Nigeria, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) and BudgIT.
According to the report, “the CPI aggregates data from eight different sources that provide perceptions by Nigeria’s business community and country experts on the level of corruption in the public sector.
It recalled that the World Bank in its report on “Rising to the Challenge: Nigeria’s COVID Response” in December, 2020, warned that “In the next three years, an average Nigerian could see a reversal of decades of economic growth and the country could enter its deepest recession since the 1980s.”
Also, “The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) which is an independent think tank organization, Nigeria witnessed a total of 2,860 kidnappings in 2020 which was up from 1,386 in 2019.
“The picture is further gloomy when taking into consideration the Unemployment Data for the second quarter of 2020 released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).”
It said that each of these challenges can be linked to corruption and mismanagement of public resources, “which further exacerbates the economic and health impact of the terrible global pandemic.”
The index also said while there were other factors that led to ‘unfavourable’ ranking, “some of the most critical are absence of transparency in the COVID-19 pandemic response.
“Coupled with the gap in coordination, the process has been fraught by incessant flouting of procurement guidelines, hoarding of relief materials and diversion of these materials which are then used as personal souvenirs presented to political party loyalists and close associates.
“We find it disturbing that in some cases, supplies donated by a group of well-meaning Nigerian business persons, corporate entities, development partners and others under the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) were left inexplicably undistributed, and in some cases rotten, by the federal and state governments,” it said.
It also listed nepotism in the public service appointments and promotions as other factors identified.
“For example, Nigerians remember the controversy which trailed the decision of the National Judicial Council (NJC) when at least eight of the 33 judges recommended for appointment by the NJC were either children or relatives of current or retired Justices of the Supreme or Appeal Courts.
“The Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in itself is not an exception with allegations of individuals promoted on the basis of their relationship and other affiliations as against merit and other criteria stated in the rule books.”
The index also added lack of adequate anti-corruption legal frameworks and interference by politicians in the operation of law enforcement agencies.
It however acknowledged some successes recorded by the Nigerian government like the Transparency portal managed and implemented by the Office of the Auditor General.
“These activities have the potential to bring corruption and wastefulness of the government agencies at all levels to the end. We fully support this initiative,” it said.
It also said that important anti-corruption legislations like the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA, 2020) and the Police Act 2020 undeniably signaled move in the right direction adding that more needed to be done to enact legislation and implement it.
It said that there was still lack of accountability in some quarters of government, especially in terms of beneficial owners of lucrative government contracts.
Infighting, overlapping mandate of agencies
The report also said that the current scenario where different institutions like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Code of Conduct Bureau, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency the Nigerian Police and other agencies overlap with mandates and lack synergy was not sustainable and have proven to be a leeway to corruption.
It said that the infighting and politicizing of the anti-corruption agenda may be evident by the way of the suspension of the former Acting Chairman of the EFCC Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
According to the report, the accusation that Magu failed to give a proper account of assets recovered by his agency was questionable.
“CISLAC/TI will like to point out that the theatric handling of the suspension of Mr. Magu could have been done better and this greatly contributes to the negative image of Nigeria’s anti-corruption campaign,”
It also said that the security sector corruption, apart from violent extremism and insurgency to piracy, kidnapping for ransom, attacks on oil infrastructure, drug trafficking, and organized crime, placed Nigeria at the hub of complex security challenges.
“As many of Nigeria’s security threats are domestic in nature, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) is often the primary security interface with the public.
“However, low levels of public trust in the police inhibit the cooperation needed to be effective against these societally based threats.”
The index also said that the continuous ‘opaqueness’ in the utilization of security votes contributed to corruption perception in the country and “this process must be reformed especially when we have security agencies living and working in very poor conditions.”
It said that multiple reports of police officers protesting non-payment of allowances for election duties are now seen.
“The result of this is the widespread kidnappings, banditry and terrorism ravaging different parts of the country,” it added.
The report amongst others recommended that the utilization of COVID-19 relief funds by state and non-state actors must be ensured.
It urged the National Assembly and relevant anti-graft agencies to follow up cases of corruption in the COVID-19 response process and reports from the Auditor General’s office.
It urged that public servants should be appointed, appraised and promoted on merit to reduce nepotism and favouritism.
It said, “The Federal Government should urgently constitute the National Council on Public Procurement (NCPP) to actively coordinate the activities of the Bureau of Public Procurement and give full effect to the Public Procurement Act 2007.”
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