The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) on Sunday has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to see the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) as a wake-up call.
Deputy Director of SERAP in Nigeria, Timothy Adewale, made the appeal on behalf of the organisation in a statement signed by him on Sunday in Lagos.
SERAP urged the Federal Government to renew its oft-expressed commitment and raise its game to fight both grand and petty corruption, as well as end the legacy of impunity rather than simply dismissing the survey as ‘fiction’.
“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 statement said.
The organisation asked the government to take the report seriously and use it as an opportunity to up its game to rid Nigeria of corruption and underdevelopment.They noted that Nigerians know corruption when they see it, stressing that government must accept the fact that its commitment to fight corruption has not gone to plan.
The statement further reads 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.
“Almost three years after taking office, and promising to fight grand corruption, no ‘big fish’ suspected of corruption has yet been sent to jail. The situation has not significantly improved, and it seems unlikely that many of those facing grand corruption charges will be successfully prosecuted. Nigerians need to see real commitment and heavy investment in promoting a culture of clean government, and total obedience to the rule of law.
Transparency International (TI) had said in its report published last week that the perception of corruption has worsened under President Buhari.
The report added that corruption in Nigeria worsened between 2016 and 2017, but the Presidency criticised the global watchdog for publishing “fiction”.