As at the last count, the global corruption watchdog, Transparency International (TI), in its latest release on Corruption Perception Index of 2014, had placed Nigeria on Number 136 out of the 175 countries surveyed, scoring 27 out of a maximum 100 marks. This score has thus ranked her the 39th most corrupt nation in the world. As against the 2013 rating that placed Nigeria as Number 144 out of 175, she’s now improved with 8 points.
Corruption, acknowledged by all as the bane of our society and the number one enemy of good governance in our country, this supposed point appreciation and upward ranking on the TI corruption index, under normal circumstances, should be celebrated by any true patriot. The report naturally should excite and thrill the average Nigerian and even strengthen our optimism for a possible corruption-free society in the foreseeable future. After all, going by the maxim that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step”, the report , ordinarily presupposes that the country is gradually winning the war against corruption and that it’s just a matter of time for the scourge to be totally eradicated from our midst.
But then, for any careful watcher of the trend in governance at all levels; given the irresponsible display of impunity in financial administration by public officials as well as their counter-parts in the private sector, in which you-chop-i-chop and turn-by-turn concepts have systematically become the norm, one can not but become more curious as to what factors may have been responsible for the upward rating of our country by the global corruption watchdog.
Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) as well as other anti-corruption advocates and crusaders are no doubt unexcited by the rating, given the apparent non-repentant posture of our privileged leaders in every aspect of their dealings. Bare-faced stealing of our common resources, misappropriation, missing monies, unaccountability, executive recklessness and profligacy, over-bloated contracts, questionable money-transfers, bribery, judicial maneuvering on financial crime cases and organized outright stealing of petroleum products and other natural resources, among others, had so far remained unabated.
Given the afore-mentioned indices therefore, such upward rating could only be seen (and justifiably so) as a fluke or at most, momentary. It is an undisputable fact that such anti-corruption agencies of the government; the EFCC and ICPC which were once so dreaded that, mere mention of the names alone, would send jitters down the spines of any corrupt mind – be it in the public or private concerns, have become mere shadows of their old selves.
It is on record that, whilst a good number of prosecutions of high-profiled personalities took place during the ex-President Obasanjo’s era, it has so far been business-as-usual in the last 6-year reign of the incumbent. It’s also on record that the EFCC, in particular, has, all through the period under reference, remained a toothless bull-dog as no celebrated case was ever concluded in the conviction of alleged offenders.
Rather corruption has consistently been enjoying an unprecedented rise in every facet of our national life. The question now is; could this ravenous monster be tamed at all? The answer is YES but only if the political will is there and this we find missing in the present government.
It is generally agreed that the grievous damage done by corruption to the image of our country in the eyes of the world is beyond estimation. Therefore, rather than engaging in a self-deceptive celebration of this fluke of upward rating, those in authority should be sincere enough to admit that they have failed in their duty to rescue the nation from the claws of this rampaging monster.
Maximum support in men and materials should be given to these anti-corruption agencies to strengthen them to result-oriented action; commitment to the rule of law by government should be demonstrated in such a way that justice is unreservedly carried out on offenders to serve as deterrent to would-be offenders and lastly, such agencies should make themselves accessible to members of the public and establish healthy and consistent rapport with other non-governmental anti-corruption organizations in this quest.
If commendable results are achieved in our fight against this scourge, we would not necessarily have to wait for any TI score-card, for us to know that we are winning the battle as it would have become apparent enough for all to acknowledge.
Executive Chairman, CACOL
05 December, 2014