•Insists security situation better than 2015
Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The federal government has described the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (TI-CPI), which downgraded Nigeria in the rating for 2020, as inaccurate and not a true reflection of the strides by the country in its fight against corruption.
In a statement yesterday in Abuja, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the country’s anti-corruption agenda, which emphasises corruption prevention measures and the building of integrity systems, remains on course.
Mohammed also insisted on his earlier position that the security situation in Nigeria had improved and was better than 2015 when President Muhammadu Buhari took over power.
He said the implementation of the various reforms, especially in the Ease of Doing Business, is expected to yield positive outcomes in the country’s corruption perception and other relevant assessments in the next 12 to 24 months.
”For instance, following the release of the 2019 TI-Corruption Perception Index, the government initiated some 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 relates 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,” he said.
Mohammed noted that aside stressing corruption prevention measures and building of integrity systems, high-profile corruption cases are currently under investigation and prosecution.
He stated that the emphasis on preventive mechanisms is in response to various local and international reviews and evaluation that Nigeria has gone through, including those from the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and even from the TI-CPI.
”In response to these evaluations, a number of significant policies have been instituted to enhance transparency and accountability and prevent corruption. Even in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of key transparency and accountability policies were developed and are currently being implemented,” the minister added.
He listed such policies to include the launch, by the ICPC, of the National Ethics Policy, which addresses integrity issues on all sectors of the polity and is directly linked to a key pillar of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS), which is ethical reorientation; efforts by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) to energise the Code of Conduct for Public Officers (CCPO) and the launch of the Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM), aimed at sustaining the country’s improvement in the Ease of Doing business.
”While we expect the results from these reforms to speak for us in due course, we are also taking measures to improve our data collection and retrieval on these issues to reduce the current under-reporting of our ongoing corruption reduction measures,” Mohammed added.
According to him, having analysed the 2020 TI-CPI rating for Nigeria, the federal government is interrogating some issues and discrepancies that have been observed in the rating process, including some data sources in which Nigeria’s scores have remained flat over the past 10 years, reflecting no improvement, decline or fluctuation.
”This is very improbable given the nature of behaviour of variables, which are normally influenced by a variety of factors (which is the reason they are called ‘variables’). In this case, the corruption scores would have been affected by changes in the size and structure of the public sector over the past 10 years, changes in policies and personnel and systems over the period including, for instance, process automation, etc. There is therefore a need to verify that there is no transposition of figures from year to year due to absence of current data,” he added.
Mohammed also stuck to his earlier position that security in Nigeria is now better than 2015 when Buhari came into office.
Mohammed, at a media briefing recently in Abuja, had said that while there were challenges, the country had recorded progress and the security situation “is by far better than what we met in 2015’’.
But some groups, including the Afenifere and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had faulted the minister’s position contending that the security situation now is worse than before.
However, the minister told journalists yesterday that until Buhari took over in 2015, the country did not witness peaceful Easter, Christmas and New Year celebrations.
“From 2010 to 2014, we did not have peaceful Christmas and New Year. It is only since we came that we have been celebrating these peacefully.
“Prior to 2015, worshippers were screened before attending jumat and church services. But this is not happening now,” he said.
Reeling out figures to back his position, the minister said on December 25, 2010, no fewer than 80 people were killed on Christmas eve by bomb attacks on churches around Jos in Plateau.
“December 25, 2011, bomb attacks were reported across the country, especially the one at Catholic Church in Madalla near Abuja that killed about 37 people and injured 57.
“On Christmas day 2012, Church of Christ in Nation’s was attacked and burnt down in Yobe by Boko Haram, killing at least six people.
“On Easter Sunday April 8, 2012, there was a bomb explosion in a church in Kaduna killing at least 36 people, injuring 13 persons,” he stated.
Mohammed said gone were those days when motor parks and markets were not safe while bombs were exploding like firecrackers.
Mohammed added that he did not say that Nigeria has overcome its security challenge, but the situation is better than that of 2015.