A non-governmental organisation, ActionAid Nigeria, has challenged the President Muhammadu Buhari administration over the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) report recently released by Transparency International.
The international anti-corruption watchdog, in its performance index released on Thursday, ranked Nigeria 146th out of 180 countries surveyed worldwide.
The index listed Nigeria as the 34th most corrupt country in the world and the fourth in West Africa, slipping two places below its 2018 performance. Critics said the performance undermines the Buhari administration’s mantra of fight against corruption.
However, the Nigerian government in its reaction, condemned the report, saying there is no data evidence to back it.
“The claim and inference by TI that Nigeria ranks the fourth most corrupt country in West Africa is totally unacceptable, as it is evidently not supported by any empirical data, especially when placed side-by-side with the remarkable achievements of the Commission in the past years,” the anti-graft agency, EFCC, said.
Speaking in Abuja on Friday, the Country Director of ActionAid, Ene Obi, said the administration’s claim of fighting against corruption will continue to appear fictitious except the government intensify its efforts through “stiffer punishment for looters and inclusion of citizens in the fight against corruption.”
“While it appears that the Nigerian Government is doing so much in fighting corruption, the just-released Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2019 has contradicted the assumption that we are excelling in the fight against corruption.
“We do agree that the CPI report annually is based on perception, however, perception also helps to validate the gaps that exist in the way’s government relates with its citizenry,” Mr Obi said.
The organisation called on the government to consider the CPI recommendations for citizens inclusion and engagements in its fight against corruption.
“Governments should protect civil liberties and political rights, including freedom of speech, expression and association. Governments should engage civil society, and protect citizens, activists, whistle-blowers and journalists in monitoring and exposing corruption,” CPI said.
“There should be no political interference in execution of legislation and there should be clear-cut roles and responsibilities among relevant agencies in the fight against corruption,” it added.
He also called on the media to be more proactive in “investigating the news behind the news” and create an “effective media engagement to generate more evidence through investigations of corrupt practices to stimulate public discourse.”