Dr Salihu Lukman, Director-General, Progressive Governors’ Forum, has faulted the Transparency International corruption rating on Nigeria which placed the country among highly corrupt nations.
Lukman, in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja, said that the report which claimed that Nigeria scored 25 out of 100 points in the 2020 Corruption Perception Index was not correct.
He said that following the report, some Nigerians had intensified campaigns alleging that Nigeria was one of the most corrupt countries in the world, ranking 149 out of 183.
“No doubt such a damning report should be disturbing to every Nigerian, including President Muhammadu Buhari.
“For a government that prioritises the fight against corruption to have been condemned in the way the CPI report did, it is not only indicting but troubling,’’ he said.
Lukman added that this was especially so given that it was a report of perception by Nigerian businesses and country experts on the level of corruption in the public sector.
He said it was important to engage the issue beyond media campaign which might only gain prominence because of the widespread sentiments of Nigerians on issues that concern government.
According to the forum`s DG, the 2020 CPI report only helped to advance the gullibility of most Nigerians.
He said the allegation of nepotism in public service appointment, popular as it may be, was subjective and may require a more holistic assessment on appointments made in order to validate it.
He stressed that to that extent, conclusions based on perception could only be subjective.
“The claim about lack of adequate anti-corruption legal frameworks is outright false in today’s Nigeria.
“It will appear that this is most likely reproduced from old reports of CPI before all the anti-corruption laws that led to emergence of EFCC and the ICPC and others.
“Since 2001, it is this kind of conclusions that validate criticisms that the respondents used for the CPI surveys are foreigners whose mindset is hardly located in the country,’’ he said.
Lukman, however, added that the issue of legal framework in the country should be about reviewing existing laws to strengthen the capacity of anti corruption agencies to fight the menace.
He said related to this, was the need to streamline anti corruption agencies to make them more efficient.
He further said that there was also the challenge of reorganisation to ensure that the country`s anti-corruption agencies were insulated from the negative influences of law enforcement agencies.
Lukman said for the CPI to claim lack of adequate legal frameworks would be far from the reality in the country.
He said Nigerian civil society groups who were partners of TI should be able to go beyond perception and expose in clear terms how much had been stolen in 2020 and by who as alleged.
He added that if records of execution of government development projects across the country were anything to go by, poor performance in the fight against corruption would not be substantiated.
This, he said, was especially because in the same 2020, the government was able to set aside N50 billion through the Central Bank of Nigeria for Household and Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) support facility.
“Other welfare programmes under the government’s Social Investment Programme have similarly continued.
“Besides the fact that notwithstanding the contraction of economy caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the government was also able to inaugurate the Lagos-Ibadan railway transport.
“There were many other capital intensive projects that continued unhindered throughout the year,’’ Lukman said.
He said that by July 2020, about N49.195 billion has been disbursed to over 92,000 beneficiaries, in the Social Investment Programme, adding that it was therefore difficult not to cite political motives in the CPI reports.