Despite Buhari’s anti-graft campaigns, Nigeria remains second ‘most corrupt’ in West Africa

Despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption campaigns since winning his first term election about five years ago, Nigeria is still been perceived as one of Africa’s most corrupt countries.

Not only did the country slipped two places below from 146th position in 2019 to 149th in 2020, the country also scored 26 out of 100 points, falling by one point compared to 2019, according to 2020 Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index.

The 149th position means Nigeria is just above 31 countries out of 180 countries surveyed worldwide, while Nigeria is ranked 25 out of 49 countries in the sub-region.

Of the 180 countries measured, Nigeria is perceived as the second most corrupt country in West Africa.

TI measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption in 180 countries/territories around the world.

“This year’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) paints a grim picture of the state of corruption worldwide. While most countries have made little to no progress in tackling corruption in nearly a decade, more than two-thirds of countries score below 50,” the report reads.

“Our analysis shows corruption not only undermines the global health response to COVID-19, but contributes to a continuing crisis of democracy,” it added.

According to the report, civil society organisations in Nigeria denounced reports of hoarding of COVID-19 palliatives by states and called on anti-corruption institutions to investigate the allegations.

The current low ranking is no surprise.

Nigeria has scored relatively low on the ranking. Between 2011 till date, Nigeria’s score has varied from 24 to 28 percent and its ranking from 136th to 149th.

Since 2012 when the scale of 100 was first used, 2016 was Nigeria’s relatively best year.

The country had a score of 28 and ranked 136 out of the 176 countries surveyed. With a score of 25, 2013 was perceived as the country’s most corrupt year, when it ranked 144 out of 177 other countries.

Until now, the Buhari administration believes it is making credible progress in its anti-corruption campaign, in that, in 2020 the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, and the anti-graft agency, EFCC, condemned the report, saying TI was oblivious of Buhari’s “achievements”.

Buhari has blocked perceived leakages in government, for example, faulty contract-bidding process and lack of financial documentation.

This has made it more difficult to indulge in brazen corrupt practices. The anti-corruption commission has had a busy time prosecuting alleged corrupt individuals and politicians.

Some of them were given jail sentences, while others ended as mere media trial after suspects were acquitted.

Corruption charges against some public officials and politicians have been put on hold as some of the accused are now part of Buhari’s administration or political party, All Progressives Congress. Some notable members of the party, including a former governor and serving senator, were convicted by courts.

Critics believe Buhari’s campaign against corruption is selective and questionable. But the president has consistently said he allowed anti-graft agency to work without interference.

In 2020, Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency boss, appointed by Buhari, was removed from office over graft allegations.

Ibrahim Magu headed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for about five years without the confirmation of the Nigeria Senate.

He served as “acting chairman” after the senate twice refused to confirm his appointment. Although there were political machinations behind the rejections, there were also allegations by the security services department of corruption and being too cozy with Umar Mohammed, a retired air commodore who authorities described as a “questionable businessman”.

Magu was accused of, among other things, re-looting recovered funds and “insubordination and misconduct.”

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