From Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The federal government has urged global anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International (TI), to empathise and join forces with it in the fight against corruption.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made these pleas when he received a TI delegation, led by the Chair of the body’s International Board, Delia Ferreira Rubicon, in Abuja on Friday.
TI had in its 2017 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released in February, ranked Nigeria in a lowly 148th position out of 180 countries.
The CPI scored the country 28 out of 100, a figure considered to be lower than the average in the Sub-Saharan region.
In a statement he issued Sunday, Mohammed urged the anti-corruption body
to back government in the area of advocacy and capacity building, rather than condemn the Buhari Administration’s fight against corruption.
”Nigeria has never had a more transparent, more accountable government than the Buhari Administration,” the minister said.
Mohammed emphasized that as a policy the administration is the most committed to fighting corruption.
He lamented that TI and the civil society organisations affiliated to it have not offered any support to the administration, as they are always influenced by the “actions of an aberrant few to condemn the government”.
The minister said when government published the list of looters and said that just 55 people stole N1.34 trillion between 2006 and 2013, a section of the civil society rubbished the allegations as one-sided.
He accused the civil society of acting apparently in response to a challenge from the opposition, instead of seeing reason with government.
Mohammed urged TI and its affiliates to grapple with the sociological complexities of fighting corruption in Nigeria, where the central government exercises no control over the actions of the federating states under a federal system of government.
He said the Buhari sdministration was not just fighting corruption with laws and prosecution, but also with education and inclusiveness in
government, citing the government’s ‘Change Begins With Me’ programme as an example of efforts made to achieve attitudinal change among the citizenry.
The minister said the fight against corruption was bearing fruit as it was being led by a President whose integrity is beyond reproach and widely acclaimed by his worst critics.
He accused corrupt persons of using looted funds to mount a virulent campaign against the administration in the social media,
out of fear that Buhari’s re-election will spell
doom for them.
Ferreira Rubio insisted that TI was not an opposition but an NGO present in over 100 countries of the world, adding: “We are not enemies. We are here to help”.
She said the visit was her maiden trip to Africa, adding Nigeria can set the tone for the continent in the fight against corruption.
She said TI had the mandate to offer support through civil society organisations and the private sector to further the fight
Rubio also appealed to government to ensure more transparency and efficiency in service delivery while doing a lot to fight corruption.