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Published On: Thu, Jul 23rd, 2020

The real corruption perceptions index of Nigeria, 2019

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By Sam Amadi

Transparency International recently rated Nigeria’s anti-corruption crusade as very poor. The country dropped two points in the global Corruption Perceptions Index, becoming the second most corrupt country in West Africa, the TI report notes. This is despite having the most elaborate anti-corruption infrastructure on the continent. And being the only country in the world right now with a President or prime minister who won election on nothing else than over 50 years of manicured reputation as extremely honest and militantly anti-corruption. Expectedly, Nigerian public officials talk down on the credibility and objectivity of the rating. Laughably, the Federal Government even accuses the global body of a hidden agenda against it. Of course, we have gone this route before: Nigeria remonstrating its rating as a house of corruption or home of the most fantastic scammers.
Perhaps, the country has a point. It has two large anti-corruption agencies -the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt and other related Practices Commission- always bumping into each and lacking clear understanding of their jurisdictional limits. It also has the Department of State Services that darts in and out of courts like a legal Spartacus, prosecuting whosoever it likes. Don’t mind that one of the heads of the many extra-ministerial agencies managing anti-corruption in Nigeria is now facing prosecution for certificate forgery and sundry corrupt practices. Is this a classic case of corruption fighting back? How can you forget that the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has declared that government’s commitment to anti-corruption and security does not recognise the restraint of the rule of law because of overriding public interest?
Now, let’s heed the government’s call to disregard imperial Transparency International and manufacture our own index of corruption in Nigeria. What will the report look like for 2019? It will start with the primaries of the two major political parties in Nigeria. It will report that after the nomination of the presidential candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party, some of the defeated aspirants complained of the flooding of Port Harcourt, the venue of the primary election, with dollars. Next to that will be a story that a former governor of Imo State and now a senator alleged that the chairman of the APC collected millions of dollar to deny his son in-law the state governorship ticket. A footnote to that story will be how some APC members petitioned the EFCC to prosecute the APC Chairman for massive corruption during his party’s primaries. The report will underline that while on the campaign trail, the APC chair, in a real moment of Freudian slip, declared to whoever had ears to hear, “If you come to APC, your corruption case will be over”. Nigerians answered that call. During the rest of the campaigns and the voting itself, politicians turned to community banks handing out naira for votes
In Lagos, at the political shrine of Nigeria’s most influential political masquerader two bullion vans pulled to a stop on the eve of an important election. The generalissimo must stockpile for the campaign to consolidate and expand the Lagos colony. The APC strongman shrugged off concerns by citizen groups by claiming that not being a government official he had a right to bullion vans escorted by federal police on the eve of elections when citizens were not even allowed to move and all banks were closed. Just like in 2015 under the PDP, you must be sure the Central Bank or its commercial affiliates had a role to play. Much later, accountability campaigners, Deji Adeyanju, Ariyo Dare and others petitioned the EFCC to investigate the APC chieftain for corrupting the electoral process. The EFCC chairman said that the petition was a trash. The man in the centre of the storm has not been invited to the dreaded EFCC facility for questioning. Of course, he continues to make important trips to the seat of power in Abuja.
As Afrobeat king, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, would ask: ‘Election story nko?’ All the local and international observers reported massive corruption and killing of voters by agents of desperate politicians. That was one of the most violent elections in Nigeria. In Rivers, Bayelsa, Kano, Kogi, Lagos and many other states, there were many deaths. Most of the killings reportedly were done or aided by members of the security agencies deployed to protect voters and election management personnel. The ugliest of these incidents was how political agents burnt a PDP woman leader in the Kogi rerun. In Imo State, the Returning officer for Imo West alleged that Okorocha, candidate for the APC, forced him under gunpoint to declare him the winner of the election. Okorocha is sitting at the upper legislative chamber, making laws for peace and good governance of Nigeria. In another senatorial race in Imo, another senator forged his own result. He had his way until his unfortunate sudden death.
The Independent National Electoral Commission was anything but independent and competent. It was extremely shambolic in almost everything except media briefing and propaganda. The judiciary, perhaps worse than INEC in public integrity perception index, has taken it upon itself to right the many wrongs of INEC in the 2019 elections. So far, its judicial efforts have led to public condemnation, street protests by the leading opposition party and call by many citizen groups, including the Anglican Communion in Nigeria, for the Chief Justice of Nigeria to resign from office. If not that one could face prosecution for hate speech or treason, it could have been OK to say that Nigerians now consider their judiciary in unpleasant terms.
Before the campaign, a video went viral. It has the Governor of Kano State, allegedly receiving bribes in dollars from contractors. As usually, disgruntled Nigerians mounted a campaign for investigation and for the President to denounce his party man. He did not. But somehow another report went viral of the President wondering why the governor did not send someone else to collect the bribe. I can’t and don’t believe the President said that. How can? Anyway, the President did not distance himself from the besmirched governor. Instead, he has repeatedly praised his political dexterity. The governor won his election in a manner befitting of the profile in the viral video. He has since them won every other battle, including against the powerful and media savvy Emir of Kano. The Supreme Court of Nigeria has now sealed the governor’s reputation as a winner.
Nigeria’s homegrown Corruption Perceptions Index will report that INEC declared Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), the winner of the 2019 presidential election, against protests by the opposition PDP that the election was massively rigged. The PDP relied on a server which INEC says does not exist and it never allowed the party access to the non-existent server. The Supreme Court has since validated INEC. The President was sworn in for a second tenure in a low key ceremony and with a commitment to change the game. He promised to renew the fight against graft and advance his other priority agenda. He began to set up a cabinet by including persons whom his EFCC had indicted for corruption and were facing prosecutions. Most of those ministers who failed the integrity test returned to their posts or better posts. Till date, there has been no shake-up.
Nigeria’s CPI will also note that unlike before, the President invested greater energy to ensure that the leadership of the new National Assembly supports his agenda, foremost is the fight against corruption. His party came down strong on its legislators and legislated that the Senate President should be Dr. Ahmed Lawan and the House Speaker should be Chief Femi Gbajabiamila. Some APC legislators put up a fight to ensure that the elections of the heads of the National Assembly were competitive. The party was more suppressive and the presidency, remembering the nightmarish petulance and insolence of Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara’s National Assembly, threw its weight behind the party. To rule out any electoral upset, the presidency and the party made sure there was no strong opposition. The result: Senator Danjuma Goje, who was facing trial for embezzling billions while a governor, had his trial discontinued at the instance of the Attorney General after a private meeting with the President at the Villa. Lawan and Gbajabiamila became Senate President and Speaker respectively and thus began a new era of independent and effective legislature. We can be sure there will no more be the distraction of a dissenting legislature.
Here are the highlights of the homegrown 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index for Nigeria. Does it not look very different from Transparency International’s biased and baleful 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index on Nigeria?

Amadi is a law teacher at Baze University, Abuja.

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