Nigeria has dropped five places in the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranking released on Tuesday by Transparency International (TI).
The country, scoring 24 out of 100 points, ranked 154 out of 180 countries surveyed, falling back five places from the rank of 149 in 2020 placing as the second most corrupt country in West Africa.
The report was revealed on TI’s official Twitter handle, @TranperencITng on Tuesday.
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 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.
The ranking may be an indicator that corruption in the country has gotten worse over the years.
However, the Nigerian authorities, on the other hand, have always criticised any unfavourable TI’s reports that point to worsening corruption in the country.
It claimed last year, in reaction to the 2021 assessment, that TI was unaware of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration’s achievements in the battle against corruption.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had stated that the (TI-CPI) does not reflect “the great strides by the country in its fight against corruption.”
The minister also questioned the source of the data used for the TI ranking.
He said: “For instance, following the release of the 2019 TI-Corruption Perception Index, the government initiated reforms to improve on Nigeria’s Ease of Doing Business indices. This is because we found that up to 40 per cent of the country’s corruption perception survey indices relate to business processes and general public service delivery processes.
“Government’s swift action has led to major reforms in the processes at our ports and business process points.”
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), the national chapter of Transparency International (TI), said 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.
This, the group said, was despite the political interference they face. Rather, the CPI goes beyond the anti-graft agencies.
Auwal Rafsanjani, TI’s country representative, said this in a statement issued on Tuesday, further blaming the fall on the government.
The CPI result, he said, comes at a time when the country is grappling with rising nationwide insecurity, high unemployment, and damning revelations about public finance management.
The score, according to the organisation, does not reflect specific instances of corruption in the country, but rather the perception of corruption.
CISLAC also said the failure of the anti-graft agencies to investigate high-profile corruption cases and prevent Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) by anti-corruption authorities was one of the numerous deficiencies noted by the organization as reasons for the group’s drop in the CPI-TI ranking.
“While we commend the arrest of cybercriminals and call on the anti-graft agencies to do more, there is a need
to investigate high profile political cases including those of individuals who have
switched political affiliations.
“A case in point is the Pandora Papers revelations which is one of the biggest ever corruption leaks led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and over 600 journalists from 117 countries, including Journalists from Nigeria’s Premium Times.
“A close look at the Pandora Papers published in 2021 reveals that Nigeria tops the African continent when looking at the number of those exposed. Following the pattern of two previous leaks (i.e., the Paradise Papers and Panama Papers, which were released in 2016 and 2017, respectively), the Pandora Papers exposes systems and secrecy jurisdictions that enable and abate crime, corruption, and illicit dealings by politicians, billionaires, influential individuals, and their enablers globally.
“Since its release on October 3, 2021, Nigerians are yet to see any action or get answers from anti-graft agencies whose work has been made easier by the diligent reporters from Premium Times which highlighted stolen or suspiciously acquired assets to be investigated. With the elections fast approaching, and the response.”