Comrade Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Executive Director, CISLAC
Comrade Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Executive Director, CISLAC

CISLAC bemoans Nigeria’s backslide in global corruption index ranking

NEWS DIGEST – The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, has described as unfortunate the Transparency International’s 2019 Corruption Perception Index, CPI, which showed how Nigeria slipped two places downward in the perception of corruption in 2019.

The News Digest reports that Nigeria is ranked 146 out of the 180 countries captured in the report.

Also, the report shows that the country scored 26 out of 100 points that it had maintained since 2017.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja, the CISLAC’s Executive Director, Auwal Rafsanjani said this year’s result provokes tough questions despite the proclaimed war on corruption by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

He said, “Nigeria’s claims of winning the war on corruption without evidences to back the statements makes the country perceived by its citizens and the international community still as very corrupt.

“When results are not favourable to the government, the CPI, CISLAC and all other critical citizens will be dismissed and branded as unpatriotic and some activists may even be physically attacked.”

According to him, the government should stop spending taxpayers’ resources and precious time in denying the obvious, “rather than using such time and resources to analytically discuss why the country is not winning the war”.

Mr Rafsanjani, however, admitted that the present administration, since 2015, has introduced important reforms that have saved billions of Naira.

He added that the introduction of Single Treasury Account eliminated enormous leakages in most MDAs.

“The launch of the Anti-Corruption Strategy has provided for the first time ever, a clear national strategy on how to fight corruption, among others,” he stressed.

Mr Rafsanjani, however, lamented that despite these reforms, the image of Nigeria on corruption is so dismal, “owing to some possible explanations like selectiveness in Nigeria’s rule of law; which the rich and powerful do not play by the rules”.

“Despite evidences brought by brave media and civil society, prominent personalities in politics and business are untouchable by Nigerian law enforcement and the executive as long as they remain loyal.

“Backlash against media and civil society damages Nigeria’s anti-corruption effort. A lot more investigative journalists risk their lives to expose corruption in procurement, constituency projects and government spending while civil groups are collaborating to put pressure on government across the federal and local government levels to make duty bearers accountable.

“Exposing corruption of those in power was met with harassment and intimidation as in the case of an attack on a journalist of Rave Television, in Edo and that of Omoyele Sowore who was dragged out of courtroom while judges were held at gunpoint.

“Anti-corruption legal and policy framework is underdeveloped, emphasizing on the fact that Nigeria is yet to see results from the use of recovered assets if they have at all been put to us,” he pointed out.

He lamented that in Nigeria today, it takes an average of 10 years to confiscate criminally obtained assets, adding that the Proceeds of Crime Act that had been being negotiating for over 10 years is yet to be signed by the Presidency.

According to him, the inability to implement recommendations on anti-corruption makes it obvious that Nigeria is not making progress in its fight against corruption.

Mr Rafsanjani further disclosed that there is monumental corruption in vital sectors such as oil and gas and defence.

While emphasizing that corruption remains Nigeria’s biggest governance challenge, Mr Rafsanjani advised that all critical revenue-generating sectors must be upheld in the fight against corruption, adding that non-state actors be allowed the right to enjoy the freedom of expression and speak out without intimidation.