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Corruption Perceptions Index 2019: “Anti-corruption war fails delivering results – Nigeria slides back in global corruption ranking”

EMBARGOED UNTIL 6:00 CET, 23rd of January, 2019.

23rd of January, 2020

In Abuja: The 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) released globally by Transparency International today reveals that Nigeria has further slipped down in the perception of corruption in 2019.

Mr. Auwal Musa RAFSANJANI

The newly released index published in Nigeria, exclusively by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Transparency International Chapter in Nigeria, reveals that Nigeria scored 26 out of 100 points in the 2019 CPI, falling back by one point compared to last year. In the country comparison, Nigeria ranks this year 146 out of 180 countries – two places down compared to 2018 results.

The CPI aggregates data from a number of different sources that provide perceptions by business community and country experts of the level of corruption in the public sector. While the index does not show real incidences of corruption, it is a reliable indication of the perception of the Nigerian public and the international community about the state of corruption in the country. The index is 100% impartial, objective and globally well respected.

The negative result from this year provokes tough questions. Despite the proclaimed war on corruption, why is Nigeria perceived by Nigerians and the international community still as very corrupt? The Government of Nigeria claims winning the war on corruption, but is this statement backed by evidence?

As every year, when results are not favourable to the Government, the CPI, CISLAC and all other critical citizens will be dismissed, branded as unpatriotic and some activists may even be physically attacked. Instead of analytically discussing why Nigeria does not seem to be winning the war on corruption, the Government and her supporters will spend tax payers’ resources and precious time on denying the obvious – Nigeria does not make much progress in the fight against corruption!

CISLAC and other CSOs are not the enemy of the state! We have been consistent in recognizing governmental successes where the credit is due. Since 2015, important reforms have been pursued and they have saved billions of Naira. The introduction of the Single Treasury Account eliminated enormous leakages in most MDAs, the launch of the Anti-Corruption Strategy has provided, for the first time ever, a clear national strategy on how to fight corruption. The rate of convictions on anti-corruption charges and the volume of confiscated assets has provided tangible deterrent to some corrupt officials. Introduction of the Know-Your-Customer policy in the financial sector has made it much harder to export proceeds of corruption abroad and may have reduced the rate of the billions of US dollars leaving Nigeria illegally every year. Some partial breakthroughs on the introduction of Beneficial Ownership database of true owners of Nigerian oil and gas sector provide some optimism that monumental corruption in the Nigerian oil and gas sector can be tackled at last.

These are tangible results, which the Government should be proud of. Why is it that despite these reforms, the image of Nigeria on corruption is so dismal? Here are some possible explanations.

 

  • Nigeria’s rule of law is selective – the rich and powerful do not play by the rules

All useful reforms in Nigeria are limited to those who cannot afford to ignore them. The pre-election period witnessed mind-blowing scandals, which stayed without consequences. Politicians stashing millions of dollars in kickbacks or having corruption charges upon them just need to switch political parties or stay loyal and charges are dropped against them. Despite evidences brought by brave media and civil society, prominent personalities in politics and business are untouchable by the Nigerian law enforcement and the executive.

 

  • Backlash against media and civil society damages Nigeria’s anti-corruption effort

Like previous years, last year witnessed further growth in civil society and media involvement and activism in anti-corruption. A lot more investigative journalists are risking their lives to expose corruption in procurement, constituency projects and government spending, while civil groups are collaborating to put pressure on government across the federal and local government levels to make duty bearers accountable. These efforts are helping to put corruption in the public consciousness and mobilize civic voices.

But the period also witnessed increased attacks on civil society and media. A perfect expression of corruption fighting back and government not doing enough to appropriate the partnership opportunities provided by renewed civic involvement in anti-corruption. We witnessed increased threats to civic space, targeted attacks and arrest of journalists and civil society activists. Exposing corruption of those in power was met with harassment and intimidation. One example was the attack on a journalist with the privately owned broadcaster, Rave Television, in Edo State, by a group of people on November 9, 2019. In another prominent example, Omoyele Sowore was dragged out of the court room while the judges were literally held at gunpoint by DSS. The whole world watched in shock as state apparatus became a major threat to public safety and justice in Nigeria.

 

  • Institutionalised corruption in political parties and political integrity

Nigeria’s system of governance and the foundations of democracy are for sale! We do not have political parties. We have platforms without ideology and any ideas to offer voters. Our politicians are masters of survival changing political parties as they please. Political party primaries are for sale to the highest bidder in a system of godfathers and criminals, who buy themselves the right to loot Nigeria from within the Government, National Assembly or other politically exposed positions. Nigeria won’t win the fight against corruption when corruption is institutionalised within the political party system. At various arms and levels of government, see routine and systematic abuse of office which by many government appointees that has been elevated to a position of being celebrated and yet government has decided to not even acknowledge the serious negative impact of this on the failure of its anti-corruption campaign to bear substantive results.

 

  • Poor understanding of the definition of corruption and how to tackle it

The authorities lack consistency and understanding on what corruption actually is. Corruption thrives with incompetency and lack of technical understanding in sectoral areas. Take the example of the disastrous privatisation of the energy sector or botched defence contracts. In an environment where senior officials are nominated, promoted and advanced based on ethnic, religious and nepotistic criteria, technical understanding of governance, including the fight against corruption, is a scarce commodity.

 

  • Anti-corruption legal and policy framework is underdeveloped

Despite legal and policy provisions for many aspects of anti-corruption, we still lack crucial laws and policies. Take the example of asset recovery, which the Government takes as a big success. Our management of confiscated assets is questionable, if not dubious. Government has not created a transparent and accountable mechanism for the management of recovered assets and loots. It does not brief Nigerians on the whereabout of the recovered assts and loots, where it is being used and how. Nigerians are yet to see the results from the use of the recovered assets, if they have at all been put to us.

It takes an average of 10 years to confiscate criminally obtained assets. Nigeria has no legal and policy framework which would enable accountable confiscated assets management. The Proceeds of Crime Act that we have been negotiating for over 10 years has not been signed by the Presidency, probably due to the resistance of the anti-corruption agencies, which do not want any accountable and transparent system. While few profits from the chaos, Nigeria continuous suffering.

 

  • Inability to implement recommendations on anti-corruption

It does not matter how we are ranked on anti-corruption. It is obvious that we are NOT making progress. Nigeria is the world leader in the number of poorest of the poor. Insecurity has become endemic everywhere in the country. The state of our roads, hospitals, schools is disastrous. One of the reasons is that we do not implement sound recommendations.

For example, government identifies procurement as the single source of corruption. It is inexplicable that the National Procurement Council (NPC) as provided in the Public Procurement Act is not in place! Government has a whistleblower policy, yet whistleblowers are attacked and sometimes even sent to jail! Even governmental data recently launched through the Second Bribery Survey shows that Nigerians do not report corruption because they are afraid of repercussions.

 

  • Corruption in vital sectors such as oil and gas and defence is endemic

As reported every year, Nigeria cannot make progress against corruption if some key sectors do not see rapid improvement. Anti-corruption in the defence and security sector is even openly loathed by some government officials. Illegal checkpoints, secretive army defence procurement and corrupt usage of security votes fuel insecurity and insurgency.

Corruption in the energy sector, education, health and others, may not be as evident as by the police or security services but it eats out the social fabric of Nigerians. Every generation of Nigerians comes in less educated, less healthy and worse prepared than the generation before!

This year, we will not repeat any recommendations. The Government must make sure that their own recommendations are followed. Civil Society and well-meaning Nigerians can suggest, but the Government has to lead the fight.

The Nigerian elite needs to reflect on the state of Nigeria and look at the foundations why we do not progress. Rule of law needs to apply to all, not just those who are powerless. Government sanctioned attacks on journalists and civil society discounts the little progress that we are making against corruption. Political parties and complete breakdown of political integrity are the real sources of Nigeria’s lack of progress.

Furthermore, we need to have an impartial discussion of what corruption is and how we can tackle it without political agenda behind it. The approach to legal and policy framework is dominated by hidden agendas. Those very corrupt who would be most affected if these laws and policies are implemented decide about the legal and policy instruments. We do not lack recommendations and technical solutions on anti-corruption, we lack the authority, which could enforce the implementation to the benefit of Nigerians.

 

In conclusion, corruption remains the biggest governance challenge in Nigeria with far reaching cost on democracy and public support and confidence in democratization in Nigeria. While government anti-corruption efforts in asset recovery are yielding results, the fundamentals necessary to ensure rule of law and freedom of expression of activists have not received enough attention. Anti-corruption stands the greatest chance of victory where there is collective action of citizens against corruption and strong collaboration between state and non-state actors; where there is no cherry-picking in terms of which corruption case to prosecute and the one not to be prosecuted; where there is alignment of purpose and commitment among the arms of Government – executive, legislature and judiciary, and where the anti-corruption campaign is transparent, inclusive and objective. There must be no room for untouchables; no matter how close to government, power or influence. The anti-corruption campaign must be total as well, leaving no sector out of the spotlight. Critical revenue making sectors must be covered – the central bank, the extractive sector, customs, Nigeria Ports Authority and others in the business of managing huge resources accruing to the nation. There must be increased transparency and accountability in the management and use of recovered assets. The rule of law must be upheld in the fight against corruption. Non-state actors must be allowed the right to enjoy freedom of expression and speak out without intimidation.

 

Governments can achieve greater improvement in anti-corruption by forging stronger collaboration and coordination with non-state actors involved in anti-corruption. We can achieve more working together than what is possible working in silos!
Therefore, we call on President Buhari to prioritize and support urgent political reforms including the overhaul of the supervision of political parties. We wish to reintegrate our call on Mr. President to immediately initiate comprehensive electoral reforms to restore the trust of citizens in democracy. Furthermore, judicial corruption must be confronted head-on. There is also an urgent need to pursue and press on with security sector reforms to stamp out corruption in the security sector. Lastly, economic reforms in the extractive sector has to be pursued without further delays or excuses.

 

Above all, we appeal to all Nigerians, especially those in power, not to attack and critize the results of the CPI but to use this time for a critical reflection on tangible ways to introduce real reforms. Corruption rankings alone do not eliminate poverty or improve security. However, they are indicators on the impact of the policies and the state of governance. We hope that we can use the CPI results and this moment for a genuine reflection about real and tangible improvements necessary to strengthen the fight against corruption.

CONTACT

Mr. Auwal Musa RAFSANJANI

16 P.O.W. Mafemi Crescent, Off Solomon Lar Way, Behind Chida Hotel, Utako District, Abuja. Nigeria

Phone: (234) 0703 411 8266

Email: cislac@cislacnigeria.net

Web: https://cislacnigeria.net

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2019 CORRUPTION PERCEPTION INDEX

2019 CORRUPTION PERCEPTION INDEX: WHAT TO EXPECT
The Corruption Perception Index (CPI) has been published annually since 1995 by Transparency International.

Civil Society Legislative Advocacy (CISLAC), the National Chapter of TI in Nigeria, will be publishing the 2019 CPI on the 23rd of January, 2020.

The CPI scores countries from 100 (long term economic growth and GDP increase, very clean) to 0 (high perceived rate of corruption, highly corrupt) and ranks countries based on their public sector corruption analyzed by experts and opinions by the general public with the major aim of stopping bribery and every form of public corruption. Countries are ranked by position relative to other countries in the index.

Through the course of Nigeria’s corruption perception assessment since 2012, the country has averaged a score of 26.7 with its highest score at 28 in 2016 and lowest at 25 in 2013. Despite moving up four places from 148 in 2017 to 144 in 2018, there was no actual change in the scores for both years, which stood at 27. In the 2018 CPI, Nigeria scored 27 out of 100 points, maintaining the same score as in the 2017 CPI, indicating that Nigeria was still perceived as highly corrupt, and although the ranking showed that Nigeria moved up four (4) places, it only meant that four other countries scored worse while Nigeria stagnated.

The result also indicated a link between corruption and the health of democracies, where countries with higher rates of corruption also have weaker democratic institutions and political rights.
The CPI serves as an indicator for assessing President Buhari’s performance in fulfilling his 2015 anti-corruption flagship agenda.
It remains to be seen if Nigeria has improved or worsened.

It would be of immense benefit to public institutions, the government and Nigerian citizens as a whole, to look at the problems indicated on the CPI and follow the recommendations mapped out to ensure that corruption in the public sector is mitigated.

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What a difference two years makes: progress since the 2016 Anti-Corruption Summit

 

Each year governments make anti-corruption commitments at various international conferences and summits. Every summit is different, but afterwards we all grapple with the same problem: how to make sure commitments stick?

Two years ago, 43 governments made over 600 anti-corruption commitments at the 2016 Anti-Corruption Summit in London. At the time, Transparency International welcomed governments’ aspirations to undertake bigger and bolder reforms, but we were also keenly aware that the enthusiasm and political will for reform could quickly be lost.

In order to keep the pressure on countries to stick to their commitments, Transparency International UK launched the Anti-Corruption Pledge Tracker in September 2017. This innovative tool compiles in-country assessments by civil society, looking at how countries have delivered on the pledges made at the 2016 summit. The initial findings published last September were encouraging but showed that there was much more to be done.

This time we have narrowed our focus, allowing us to dive into the implementation of specific commitments. Whereas in 2017 we looked at 27 countries plus international organisations, this time we are tracking progress across 116 commitments by 16 countries in six areas: asset recovery, beneficial ownership transparency, law enforcement, open data, public procurement and protection for whistle-blowers or space for civil society.

Read More

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Why are public registers important to stopping financial secrecy? | Transparency International

 the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), which is Transparency International’s chapter in Nigeria, organised a special session at the World Bank and IMF Annual Membership Meetings in Washington, DC to highlight the importance of public registries in the fight against corruption.

The session entitled, Public Registers of Beneficial Ownership: Essential or Overhyped, featured panelists from the IMFOpen OwnershipTax Justice Network and Transparency International Spain.

Grand corruption and anonymous companies

CISLAC, together with international partners, considers publicly accessible registers of true owners of companies, trusts and other commercial entities as an essential tool in the fight against corruption.

According to the World Bank data, more than 70 per cent of grand corruption cases include the use of anonymous companies to move financial assets undetected and without a trace of the true owner — frequently a corrupt public official.

Some modest progress in Nigeria

In Nigeria, the President made a commitment in 2016 to the international community and to the Nigerian pubic to establish a public central register of beneficial owners of companiesHowever, to date, after four years of empty promises, there is no public register in sight.

Despite partial successes in advancing legal framework through the re-enacted Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) to include beneficial ownership reporting by companies and utilization of audit data in the extractive sector by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative(NEITI) to create a database of oil and gas ownership structures, the nexus between big business and grand corruption in Nigeria is still shrouded in secrecy.

Challenges and limitations in Nigerian law

Meanwhile, some great opportunities in the fight against corruption were lost in recent years. An example is the failure to enact the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) in Nigeria. This single act has inexplicably jeopardised the asset recovery effort, which the government championed with great vigour.

Many international partners and domestic stakeholders have expressed concern over the opportunity lost as hundreds of millions of US dollars are awaiting to be returned to Nigeria by the international community.

Without POCA, there is no framework to return such funds in an accountable and transparent way.

What we’re doing

CISLAC, with partners, are a part of international movement, which is urging the World Bank, IMF and other international institutions to raise awareness among political leaders and policymakers about the need for public registers.

Off-shore financial centres, which enable the creation of anonymous companies hidden from law enforcement authorities and others, contribute to gigantic graft and rob taxpayers and citizens of public resources that should instead to access of public services, like health care and education.

In the case of Nigeria, while more than 50, 000 Nigerians enjoy assets worth more than US$1 million, more than 60 per cent of Nigerians live in abject poverty.

Recommendations

While we urge the Nigerian government to create a beneficial ownership registry as promised, CISLAC and partners also call on the international community to support these efforts.

Although the IMF has made critical steps towards addressing corruption in the programming and policy implementation, it can do more to improve beneficial ownership transparency. However, we commend the IMF’s work to develop a methodology for assessing the nature and severity of governance weaknesses and urge the IMF to:

· Develop and implement clear and transparent anti-corruption policy, which will facilitate policy recommendations targeting systemic and coherent anti-corruption and transparency measures.

· Consult civil society in the governance assessment process and in IMF policy responses, particularly in the context of weak institutions, pervasive corruption, the penetration of organized crime into national governance structures and state capture by criminal networks and individual kleptocrats.

· Work jointly with CSOs, governments and development partners especially in areas of i) fiscal governance, ii) public procurement, iii) rule of law, iv) anti-money laundering and combatting facilitation of corruption.

The registers of beneficial ownership are a tool, which can prove decisive in tackling loopholes in all these four areas.

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CISLAC at the ongoing World Bank/IMF Annual Meeting

CISLAC at the ongoing World Bank/IMF Annual Meeting

Pic from the left, Program Manager Anti Corruption, CISLAC, Vaclav Prusa; Managing Director, Transparency International, Patricia Moreira; Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani; Moderator, Thom Townsend; Counsel Financial Integrity Group, (IMF), Francisca Fernando; the Director Financial Secrecy, Tax Justice Network, Markus Meunzer and the Chair of Transparency International, Spain, Prof. Dra Silvina Bacigalupo after a panel of discussants discussed Public Register of Beneficial Ownership to check Illicit Financial Flows during a side event of the 2019 IMF/World Bank annual meetings in Washington D.C. hosted by CISLAC

 

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Corruption Perceptions Index 2018

The index, which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and business people, uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean. More than two-thirds of countries score below 50 on this year’s CPI, with an average score of just 43.

It reveals that the continued failure of most countries to significantly control corruption is contributing to a crisis in democracy around the world. While there are exceptions, the data shows that despite some progress, most countries are failing to make serious inroads against corruption.

See previous CPI results.

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TI Launches Corruption Perceptions Index 2018

The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) was established in 1995 as a composite indicator used to measure perceptions of corruption in the public sector in different countries around the world.

During the past 20 years, both the sources used to compile the index and the methodology have been adjusted and refined.

In 2012, important changes were made to the methodology to allow for score comparison across time, which was not possible prior to 2012. The methodology follows four basic steps: selection of source data, rescaling source data, aggregating the rescaled data and then reporting a measure for uncertainty. The calculation process also incorporates a strict quality control mechanism which consists of parallel independent data collection and calculations conducted by two inhouse researchers and two academic advisors with no affiliation to Transparency International.

Learn more: https://www.transparency.org/cpi

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Launching of TRAC Nigeria

CISLAC Officially Launches Tracnigeria.

The Tracnigeria (Towards Realizing Accountability in Nigeria) project is an online advocacy tool which tracks the progress on commitments made by the Nigerian government at the Anti-Corruption Summit held in London in 2016 and by extension, the Open Government Partnership, with a view to realizing our common goal of accountability in governance. The project also provides a platform for related news, meetings, national action plans and features a bribery reporting tool which will be represented by a counter (in number and monetary value). This online platform is a collaborative effort of CISLAC and Transparency International.