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Nigeria ‘Not Fighting Corruption To Impress Transparency International’

It says TI’s report fails to capture Buhari administration’s anti-graft successes.

Nigeria’s federal government has faulted the recent rating of Nigeria as one of the most corrupt countries in the world by Transparency International (TI), saying the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration’s anti-corruption fight is not aimed at impressing the global corruption monitoring body.

TI had on Tuesday released its 2022 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) Report, ranking Nigeria as 150 out of 180 countries, with a score of 24 out of 100 points 

The Transparency International had said its tool for measuring the level of corruption in the systems of the 180 countries across the world, were based on certain prevalent indices like bribery, diversion of public funds, public officials using public offices for private gains without consequences, ability of governments to contain corruption and enforce effective integrity mechanisms in the public sector, red-tape and excessive bureaucratic burden, which may increase opportunities for corruption, meritocratic versus nepotistic appointments in the civil service.

Reacting to the TI ranking, Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said  Nigerian government has devoted itself to fighting corruption the way it has because it believes allowing it to persist would make growth impossible.

The Minister who was answering reporters’ questions on Wednesday after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the State House, Abuja, declared that although the administration does not know the templates TI used to rate countries, the organization has failed to capture the methods and achievements of Nigeria’s government in its fight against corruption.

Accitding to the Minister: “Now, the question about the Transparency International rating of Nigeria and my position is the same. We are not fighting corruption because we want to impress Transparency International or any organization whatsoever. 

“We’re fighting corruption because we believe if we don’t fight corruption, there’ll be no growth, either in terms of the economy or even political. Therefore, what we do and what we have put in place to fight corruption is not because we want to be rated by anybody.

“If, for instance, what we’re doing catches the attention of Transparency International and they give us better marks, so well and good. However, I can assure you that we do not, as a government, know what template TI is using, but whatever template they’re using is clearly oblivious of what this administration is doing to fight corruption.

“Corruption fighting is not just by how many people have you arrested or how many people have you tried or how many people have you convicted. Of course, even in that respect, we have a very impressive record; is it EFCC, is it ICPC? But you should look at what we’re doing even to make corrupt practices almost impossible or difficult. I’ll just give you two examples. 

“For instance, this administration, when funds were returned from the Abacha loot and other funds were recovered from the US and the UK and Europe, what this administration did, was rather than pay these funds into the treasury and face the possibility of it being stolen or being re-looted, the administration decided that we’ll put this money into a separate account and ask the  National Sovereign Investment Fund (NSIA) to manage these funds, and we used this money for specific projects. 

“Some of our legacy projects today are actually being financed by our money that have been stolen, which were returned and which we have kept. To me, this is an example of how to fight corruption, an example of how to ensure that people do not steal what has been recovered again. 

“I make proud to say that we have been more proactive in fighting corruption, but people are not willing to see those things that we have put in place in fighting corruption and that’s why I gave that example of putting aside monies that have been returned for specific projects so that we can monitor how those funds are being used. 

“Again, the courage of this administration, even to expose high ranking officials of administration who have run foul of the law, is evidence of our determination and courage to fight corruption.

“So, we are not really worried or bothered about the rating of TI because we know that everything we do is to ensure that we fight corruption the best way we know how to do, but like I said, if TI is not seeing this, then I think they might have to change their template. But again, we’re not fighting corruption to impress them”, Mohammed further said.

Deji Elumoye