Nigeria And The Corruption Perception Index: Perception Versus Reality

Perception and Reality are two different things – Tom Cruise

For the last 25 years, Transparency International, an international body comprising of eminent persons from various countries, releases yearly reports on the corruption of about 180 sovereign nations. The findings or reports, termed, the ‘Corruption Perception Index’(CPI) ranks these countries and territories based on their perceived levels of primarily public sector corruption.

In its methodology of assessment, the index uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is most corrupt while 100 is least corrupt. The information for the index is provided by ‘experts and business people’. For 2017, being the most current period,  the index found that more than two-thirds of countries scored below 50, with an average score of 43, meaning that more than half of the countries surveyed did not make the halfway line.

Consistent with past trends, the worst performing regions is Sub-Saharan Africa with an average score of 32, and Nigeria scoring 27. That places Nigeria at the rank of 148 which is a drop of 12 places below where it was last year! Before we fret or celebrate over our new ascendancy, it is essential to highlight the methodology used to rank countries.

Transparency International uses thirteen different data sources from twelve different institutions to construct the CPI :  They are African Development Bank Country Policy and Institutional Assessment 2016; Bertelsmann Stiftung Sustainable Governance Indicators 2017; Bertelsmann Stiftung Transformation Index 2017-2018; Economist Intelligence Unit Country Risk Service 2017; Freedom House Nations in Transit 2017; Global Insight Country Risk Ratings 2016 ;  IMD World Competitiveness Center World Competitiveness Yearbook Executive Opinion Survey 2017 ; Political and Economic Risk Consultancy Asian Intelligence 2017 ; The PRS Group International Country Risk Guide 2017 ; World Bank Country Policy and Institutional Assessment 2017 ; World Economic Forum Executive Opinion Survey 2017 ; World Justice Project Rule of Law Index Expert Survey 2017-2018  and  Varieties of Democracy 2017.

 

The main issue to address is not the complex statistical methodology it deploys, which it reassesses every two years, but the primary source of information it uses to arrive at its conclusion. For data sourcing, it uses ‘businessmen and credible institutions’ as a source of information gathering. It is pertinent to indicate which type of business constitutes the sample size. Is it foreigners or locals ?? The ‘quality’ of the respondent matters in every research. There will be a difference in the results of a survey if the persons that probably come for business with ‘hot’ money are prioritized over those that live in Nigeria and engage daily in different sectors of the economy. It further states that it collects parallel independent data from in-house researchers and two academic advisors, who are mainly expatriates. Though Transparency International reports that it has no affiliation with the independent data sources, probably for ethical reasons, it is not clear on the technical methodology concerning where the independent sources obtain their data. Nowhere in the technical methodology is it stated that data is sourced from relevant institutions within a country that is being assessed.

 

By its admittance, most of the sources do not have global coverage. For a country or territory to qualified for assessment and ranking, there must be at least three CPI’s data sources from the earlier ones stated. So it is safe to assume that the African Development Bank, which is based in Africa and should know Africa was the primary data collection point for Nigeria.

 

Therefore, the African Development Bank and at least two other institutions will collect data on matters regarding public sector corruption in Nigeria. It shall also assess the ability of governments to contain corruption and enforce effective integrity mechanisms in the public sector. They will also study the adequacy of the legal framework on financial disclosure and conflict of interest prevention.Also included is to ascertain whether there is legal protection for whistleblowers, journalists and investigators when they are reporting cases of bribery and corruption. Other areas include the confirmation of an effective criminal prosecution for corrupt officials who divert public funds without excessive bureaucratic burden which may increase opportunities for corruption. Quite important is that they are to look at the prevalence of officials using public office for private gain without facing the consequences due to nepotistic appointments in the civil service or by narrow vested interests.

 

The global standard for assessing complex criminal justice matters such as money laundering, corruption or terrorism, researchers or assessors mainly look at the legal framework and see if its sufficient to combat such crimes. Next is the whether the institutions are capable of and having the technical capacity, funds, staff and other matters to implement the legal framework. Finally, is the measurement or impact of the first two, which is usually the area where most countries have challenges.

 

In the areas enumerated above, are the Nigerians laws robust enough and in compliance with international standards such as the United Nations Convention against Corruption? Are there institutions strengthened sufficiently to execute their tasks effectively? Are there data available held by these agencies that would be contrary to data obtained from foreign experts? Transparency International is very clear in its technical methodology that it does not capture citizens perceptions or experience of corruption! So where does the information or data generated from to support the  ‘perception’ to reflect the reality of acts of public sector corruption in Nigeria?

 

It also attributes the lack of journalistic freedom and engagement of civil society to highly corrupt countries. The information is sourced from data from the “Committee to Protect Journalists” which indicates that, every week, a journalist is killed in a country that is highly corrupt. It will be difficult to support that assertion in Nigeria because the state has sufficient press freedom with no recorded casualty because of reportage on corrupt activities. Countries were journalists are killed, is usually not as a result of speaking out against corruption but other factors such as war or political assassinations. Also, there is not a single reported case of government highhandedness to any civil society organization that has spoken about corruption. All anti-corruption agencies actively engage with CSOs as partners in the war against public sector corruption.

 

Furthermore, the ‘World Justice Project’ indicates that most countries that score low for civil liberties also tend to score high for corruption. Is there any evidence that Nigeria or any country in the sub-region is rated low on civil liberties or does not allow for civic participation? Most of the countries that scored high are old democracies with stronger institutions and based on that, will always have an edge and higher score over weaker democratic institutions.It is a constant that developed countries will typically rank higher than developing nations due to stronger regulations.

 

Another problem with the ranking is that it is measured by a different methodology every two years and would pose a challenge to making yearly comparisons. This significant subjectivity downgrades it as a tool for measuring the implications of new policies.

Part of its counter-productivity is that the ranking influences the actual perception of corruption because of the media attention they tend to receive. This raises the potential that the indexes influence the very same opinions on which they are based. This circularity reinforces perceptions of corruption, creating a vicious cycle between perception and fact. Evidently, perceptions of corruption can be shaped by media and entrenched historical stereotypes.Therefore, the perception of corruption does not always reflect the reality or complexity of the actual level or experience of corruption.

There is growing concern among anti-corruption agencies and the international community that perception-based indexes are not accurate measures. It is obvious that perception and experience of corruption are not the same things. Studies have shown that there is a wide gap between opinions and experiences from country to country. For example, in 2006, the perception based CPI rated the United Kingdom as the 11th and Turkey as 60th in the index. However, using the Global Corruption Barometer, another form of measurement that is more of experience-based, reported that 98 percent of the respondents, who are residents stated that they had not paid any bribe in the past 12 months. The incompatibility of corruption perception with the experience of corruption points to the shortcomings of the perception methodology used.

The complexity of understanding how to interpret these indexes places the responsibility on anti-corruption agencies to explain index ratings to the media. That is probably why the Minister of Information was fidgeting on live television when trying to explain the CPI to the press because it didn’t make sense to him. One can only imagine what would be going through the Chairman of EFCCs mind that after going to Vienna in November 2017 brandish a recovery of N739 billion, tons of asset recoveries ,prosecution of hundreds of high profile cases and over ten countries drooling to copy the Nigerian model, only to descend by 12 positions. Ridiculous I say!

 

Umar Yakubu

Director – General

Counter Fraud Center

[email protected]

Twitter: @umaryakubu

Take Transparency International’s Corruption Report Serious – SERAP Tells Buhari

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to see the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI), of the country as a wake-up call to renew its oft-expressed commitment and raise its game to fight both grand and petty corruption and end the legacy of impunity rather than simply dismissing the survey as ‘fiction’.”

According to Transparency International’s report, the perception of corruption has worsened under President Muhammadu Buhari. The report showed that the perception of corruption in Nigeria worsened between 2016 and 2017. But the presidency has criticized the global watchdog, saying that TI was publishing fiction.

Reacting to the development, SERAP in a statement by its deputy director Timothy Adewale said, “While TI’s index only measures perceptions of corruption, their findings correspond substantially with the reality of impunity of perpetrators, as demonstrated by the low conviction rate, the authorities’ slowness to adopt and implement critical reforms, appearance of selectivity in the anti-corruption fight, apparent complicity of key officials and cover-up, as well as unaddressed alleged corruption against several state governors.

The organization urged the authorities to take the report seriously and use it as an opportunity to raise their game in their efforts to rid our country of corruption and underdevelopment.”

“The government should make no mistake about this: Nigerians know corruption when they see it. Rather than simply criticizing TI as publishing fiction or going after its board members, the government should accept the fact that its oft-expressed commitment to fight corruption has not gone to plan.”

The statement read in part: “The CPI may not be perfect, and in fact no index is. The CPI may not show actual evidence of corruption in the country, but perceptions are commonly a good indicator of the real level of corruption. In any case, the devastating effects of corruption in virtually all sectors providing essential public services are too glaring for Nigerians to ignore.

“While the government may have blocked some leakages in the systems and reduced the level of impunity witnessed under the previous administrations, it has not done enough to address longstanding cases of corruption, and the appearance of selectivity in the prosecution of corruption allegations especially when such cases involve those close to the seat of power. Today, corruption still constitutes one of the greatest threats to the country’s sustainable and equitable development.”

SERAP noted that almost three years after taking office, and promising to fight grand corruption, no ‘big fish’ suspected of corruption has yet been sent to jail.

It noted that the situation has not significantly improved, and it seems unlikely that many of those facing grand corruption charges will be successfully prosecuted stressing that Nigerians need to see real commitment and heavy investment in promoting a culture of clean government, and total obedience to the rule of law.

It argued: “Possessing the political will to fight corruption is not in itself enough if it’s not sufficiently demonstrated. Buhari should take the CPI to heart and initiate and actively facilitate the passing of tough anti-corruption laws, strengthening the capacity and independence of anti-corruption agencies, substantially improving the criminal justice system, obeying decisions and judgments of our courts, and ensuring the passing of the Whistle-blower Bill.

“Buhari can’t fight corruption successfully without significantly improving on the tools used by his predecessor, former President Goodluck Jonathan. The government should as a matter of urgency implement governance reforms to advance effective functioning of government institutions, strengthen the quality of democratic institutions and rule of law, and reducing corruption, if Nigeria is ever going to improve on its global anti-corruption ranking.

“Public officials still use political power to enrich themselves without considering the public good. Selective application of the law is a sign that the law is not being followed strictly enough, and that the fight against corruption is not maximally prosecuted.”

The organization remarked that “corruption is taking place every day and every hour, especially in the power sector, the education sector, the water sector, the health sector and other important public sectors in several states of the federation, and federal ministries.

“Corruption continues to directly affect the lives and well-being of millions of Nigerians across the country, and to erode public trust in public institutions and leaders, threatening the foundation of our democracy.

“There is uneven implementation of the rule of law and democratic processes, limited citizen participation in policy processes, and deliberate disobedience of court orders and judgments, such as the judgment of Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court obtained by SERAP, which ordered the government to publish widely how recovered stolen funds since the return of democracy in 1999 have been spent.

“The best measure of a country’s progress toward transparency and accountability is a total obedience to the rule of law. The law ought to command the highest levels of respect by for example, the government immediately obeying orders and judgments of competent courts. The fight against corruption won’t succeed if the government continues to selectively adhere to law or refuse to rectify any disobedience. No country in which official position and orders claim a place in people’ s minds higher than the law can truly be said to fight corruption.

“Democracy works only if the people have faith in those who govern, and that faith is bound to be shattered when high officials and their appointees engage in activities which arouse suspicions of malfeasance and corruption”, it added.

Monkeys, Snakes, Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin By Lasisi Olagunju

“Their men, young and old, I took as prisoners. Of them I cut off the feet and hands; of others I cut off the noses, ears and lips; of the young men’s ears I made a heap; of the old men’s heads I made a minaret.”

That quote is one horrible monument to the memory of an Assyrian empire called Nineveh and its rulers. Nineveh, at the height of its glory, was the greatest empire on earth. It built a huge reputation for savage acts because it was powerful. To the Jews, it was “the bloody city, full of lies and robbery.”

Nineveh was destroyed in 612 BC by a coalition of victim-nations. A commentator (on how the empire blossomed and fell) notes that when you rule with wickedness and savagery, “your enemies are not likely to forget how they were treated.” When the enemies came in 612 BC, they destroyed everything, including the empire’s ‘everlasting god’, Ashur.

I was at a Christian burial service last Friday where the priest invoked what he called ‘the writing on the wall’ against leaders ruining Nigeria and its future. Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin, he chanted repeatedly in revulsion at the mess the country had become. That is a biblical statement interpreted to mean: “God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it.”

It points at why an empire called Babylon had to be destroyed and parceled out. A key member of the coalition that destroyed Nineveh in 612 BC was Babylon. Babylon also had to be destroyed in 539 BC by Medes and Persia, two of its allies in the war against Nineveh. Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin is a Biblical sign of the end of Babylon. What does it mean to say the days of Babylon are numbered? It means no empire lasts forever. What remains after the fall of every potentate is history of his behaviour in power. If Babylon is destroyed and shared by the allied forces of Medes and Persia, what does that tell us about contemporary powers and power relations? The APC is in power today. Before this ruling party, there was the PDP which prided itself as the biggest and largest party in Africa. A coalition of friends and foes in 2015 put a halt to the pillaging moves of the PDP. Are we not likely to see Medes and Persia in 2019?

History can be very mocking of powers and principalities. Nineveh fell. Babylon fell. Before the fall of Babylon, there was Medes which ruled over the Persians; then they flipped roles: “Under a brilliant young general named Cyrus, the Persians quickly supplanted the Medes and would go on to accomplish things never seen previously in history. After bringing the Medes to heel, they looked outward to foreign lands.” With Medes as a junior coalition partner, Persia was to add the powerful Babylon to the list of its victims.

Babylon became great and forgot its beginning. It became a habitation of evil and a cage for hateful birds. The priest at the burial believed our leaders had done what Babylon did to warrant the fate that befell it. His invocation of history as prayer pointed at the need to end Nigeria’s dynasty of corruption and ineffectual power and create an oasis of peace and prosperity.

The priest’s invocation was not as shocking as the scary chorus of ‘Amen!’ that followed it. Have things gone this bad? Obviously, they have; but the naked king thinks he is still clothed in the velvet of his coronation. But there is a problem. How will ending dynasties and calving powers be applicable as solution to the problems here? I found it very difficult to understand why the congregation chorusing ‘Aamen!’ did not go further to ask the priest what would follow the end of Babylon? If you take power from the current lords of nepotism, who is that saint that will collect it and won’t replace corruptive cronyism with kidnapping and robbery?

History has not been kind in its account of what follows every dynastic change. Nineveh was destroyed by Babylon and its allies because it was an empire of wickedness. Babylon too was destroyed by Persia and its ally because of the horrid iniquities it institutionalized. The PDP was degraded in the last elections to cure the nation of corruptive afflictions. Now, APC/Buhari’s Nigeria last week scored a miserable 27 per cent for its efforts at killing corruption. That was the verdict of Transparency International which was a darling of the APC and Buhari in the years of their enemies. What was the average score before Buhari? Less than 28 per cent! Corruption is the family house of all infractions. It includes nepotism which you commit when you use your powers to give undue favours to your family members. It includes cronyism – which means what? When you tilt advantages unfairly in favour of your associates and friends, you are guilty of cronyism.

Of course, there is bribery; there is embezzlement; there is graft and there is influence peddling. Use of public power for private gain is the official definition of corruption. Does that not smell like nepotism, cronyism, clannishness and favouritism which are the rainbow colours of the Buhari government? Even when Olusegun Obasanjo, the navigator of the process that birthed the Buhari government, spoke about these infractions, what defence did the government put forward? None. Instead, it gave a long list of ‘achievements’, including generating 7,000 megawatts of electricity which has not translated to a sack of darkness at night.

Corruption has gone worse under the APC government, according to Transparency International. Buhari and his government say that cannot be true: What else are we supposed to do that we haven’t done? We have used the past two years and nine months naming and shaming thieves. We have touched the untouchables and shamed the saintly crooks. We have recovered billions in local and foreign currencies and kept the loots for public good. We have stormed privileged homes at midnight and put fearful judges in handcuffs. We have seized powerful generals, air marshals and naval admirals and put them on trial for stealing billions to fund their greed. We have done more than has ever been done in this land flowing with loose Naira and careless dollars. Now this Transparency report has awarded a miserable 27 per cent to Nigeria for 2017. What marking scheme did they use? Who used them? What has gone wrong or what went wrong?

Really, what marking scheme did the examiners use? Does Buhari know that his government has been very transparent in its misbehaviour? How did we know that we have a multibillion naira State House clinic without paracetamol? Rodents chasing out big men out of Villa offices despite billions in maintenance contracts; snakes of the devil swallowing millions; monkeys invading farmhouses to mine senatorial millions; secret recruitments of nephews, nieces and children of mistresses and concubines to fill elite spaces; NNPC contracts without due process; reinstatement and promotion of associates caught pants down. The government did all these and exhibited them for all to see. Transparency International saw them too and was not amused.

Nineveh was destroyed because it was evil. Babylon which destroyed Nineveh was sacked because it became a city of foul spirits and of wicked use of power. Persia which sacked Babylon became history because it refused to learn and change from the evil acts of the past. When you remove dynasties and retain a nation’s character of evil, you have changed nothing. That is what I took from Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai. He talks anticorruption but demolished his enemy’s building last week and took over the land. That site will soon become a park to fulfill the vow of the powers of today. El-Rufai has also reportedly forwarded a N30 million bill to the same enemy-Senator as ground rent on another property. If the enemy does not pay N30 million in 30 days time, the building will also go down. That governor may be short in stature, but he has a very robust sense of (in)justice. There is methodology in whatever the petite governor does, including in his demolition ways.

Now, how much support does this governor’s (mis) behaviour enjoy from Abuja? We may not know because that power locus does not speak and does not act against wicked allies. What, therefore, is the difference between what the kings of Nineveh and Babylon did and what happened last week in Kaduna? The government there demolished a building because its enemies turned it to their office. The mind that did that obviously had no sense of history. That history-less mind has a script such as: If you dream of contesting against me in the next elections, I will demolish your house. If you don’t have a house, I will go after your father’s house. If your father has/had been too careless not to own a house, I will gun for your grandfather’s grave.

The kings of Babylon did similar things. Today, history remembers them and what remains of their empire: “A large tell of broken mud-brick buildings and debris” 85 kilometers south of present day Iraq. No power (and empire) lasts forever.

Corruption In Nigeria Getting Worse – Transparency International

Nigeria’s war on corruption may have suffered a setback, with the latest report released by the global anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International, indicating that the scourge is getting worse.

Transparency International’s latest global corruption perception index (CPI) ranks Nigeria 148 out of 180 countries surveyed.

This shows a significant drop of 12 places, compared to the country’s rating of 136th position in 2016.

The report, however, also pointsed out that the problem of corruption is a general trend across the world.

“This year’s corruption perceptions index highlights that the majority of countries are making little or no progress in ending corruption, while further analysis shows journalists and activists in corrupt countries risking their lives every day in an effort to speak out”.

Also according to the report, while the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arrested and arraigned several politicians and public servants, it accused the Buhari administration of failing to address corruption among key government officials.

The agency, however, opined that activists as well as the media are vital to combatting corruption.

As part of its recommendations the it said: “Governments and businesses must do more to encourage free speech, independent media, political dissent and an open and engaged civil society.

“Governments should minimise regulations on media, including traditional and new media, and ensure that journalists can work without fear of repression or violence. In addition, international donors should consider press freedom relevant to development aid or access to international organisations.”

It also called on activists and the government to “take advantage of the momentum generated by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to advocate and push for reforms at the national and global level.”