5 reasons Nigeria is now rated second most corrupt in West Africa

Transparency International has reeled out its reasons for ranking Nigeria the thirteenth and second most corrupt country in Africa and West Africa respectively.

When the 2020 corruption index of the Berlin-based organization was published it was received with mixed feelings. While some Nigerians were not surprised given the country’s continuous flopping downward in the index since President Muhammadu Buhari took over in 2015, the presidency attacked it saying it was opposite of what is on ground.

The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) while reacting asked the president and his All Progressive Congress party to refund the sum of N15trillion allegedly stolen from the nation’s treasury.

Below are 5 major reasons why the nation has made no progress in the latest rating by TI. The list is originally compiled by Nairametrics.

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Absence of transparency in the COVID-19 pandemic: The agency stated that there has been a lack of transparency in the emergency response of the government to COVID-19.

Coupled with the gap in coordination, the process has been fraught by the incessant flouting of procurement guidelines, hoarding of relief materials, and diversion of these materials, which are then used as personal souvenirs presented to political party loyalists and close associates.

It observed that, in some cases, supplies donated by a group of well-meaning Nigerians, corporate entities, development partners, and others under the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) were left inexplicably undistributed, and in some cases rotten, by the federal and state governments.

Nepotism: The agency had witnessed nepotism and favoritism in the appointment and promotion of some public officers.

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The controversy, which trailed the decision of the National Judicial Council (NJC) when at least 8 (eight) of the 33 judges recommended for appointment by the NJC were either children or relatives of current or retired Justices of the Supreme or Appeal Courts is still fresh in the minds of Nigerians.

Reports around the commercialization of employment into various institutions including admission into various tertiary educational institutions put the nation in a bad light.

Also, allegations of extortion from Nigerians while acquiring services like driver’s licenses, bail, healthcare and passports renewal creates a negative perception of corruption in the most populous black nation.

Inadequate anti-corruption legal frameworks and interference in the operation of law enforcement agencies: The agency noted that it is not oblivious of some successes recorded by the Nigerian government such as the Transparency portal managed and implemented by the Office of the Auditor-General.

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These activities, according to the agency, have the potential to bring corruption and wastefulness of the government agencies at all levels to the end.

It stated, “We fully support this initiative. Important anti-corruption legislations such as the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA, 2020) and the Police Act 2020 undeniably signal a move in the right direction.”

But it added that there is still a lack of accountability in some quarters of government, especially in terms of beneficial owners of lucrative government contracts. “Out of millions of corrupt transactions experienced annually, only a few hundreds of offenders are investigated, let alone convicted on corruption charges.

“The current scenario where different institutions like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Code of Conduct Bureau, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency the Nigerian Police, and other agencies overlap with mandates and lack synergy is not sustainable and have proven to be leeway to corruption,” it added.

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The infighting and politicizing of the anti-corruption agenda may be evident by the way of suspending the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mr Ibrahim Magu. The accusation that he failed to give a proper account of assets recovered by his agency is questionably provided no clear legal and policy asset recovery framework exists.

The agency pointed out that the theatric handling of the suspension of Mr. Magu could have been done better and this greatly contributes to the negative image of Nigeria’s anti-corruption campaign. The absence of a Whistle Blower Protection Legislation leaves Nigerian anti-corruption agencies deprived of key insider intelligence without which an anti-corruption crusade is a mission impossible.

Prevalence of bribery and extortion in the Nigerian Police: The year 2020 witnessed the #EndSARS protests which saw young people across the nation demanding an end to police brutality and corruption. A factor that led to this protest was widespread bribery and extortion by law enforcement officials especially the police.

The first and second national corruption surveys conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in partnership with the government’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and released in 2017 and 2019 both showed the Nigerian Police is the institution with the highest prevalence of bribery amongst the institutions measured.

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While there have been commendable efforts by the Police Complaints Response Unit (CRU) in reducing police abuses, there is a need to scale up the efforts of the unit to meet the demands of citizens as contained in the Police Act 2020.

Security sector corruption: From violent extremism and insurgency to piracy, kidnapping for ransom, attacks on oil infrastructure, drug trafficking, and organized crime, Nigeria faces a host of complex security challenges.

These threats typically involve irregular forces and are largely societally based. They are most prevalent and persistent in marginalized areas where communities feel high levels of distrust toward the government—often built up over many years. At their root, these security challenges are symptoms of larger failures in governance.

As many of Nigeria’s security threats are domestic in nature, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) is often the primary security interface with the public. However, low levels of public trust in the police inhibit the cooperation needed to be effective against these societally based threats.

It added that Nigeria’s security system is also perceived to be politicized. Leaders are often appointed based on their political allegiances rather than on their experience or capabilities in law enforcement. As a result, the quality of leadership at the helm of affairs suffers. Appointees under such circumstances feel loyalty to their political patron rather than to their institutions or citizens. How and to whom the law is applied is not consistent. Norms of professionalism and ethics are weakened.

The problem of non-meritocratic leadership is exacerbated by a command-and-control structure that is opaque, centralized, and often chaotic. security leaders who have not earned their position lose the respect of their colleagues, who are then more likely to abandon a unit when facing an armed threat. Insufficient understanding or commitment to effectiveness among a force’s leadership often results in the neglect of training.

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