The latest Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released wednesday by Transparency International has revealed that corruption is getting worse in Nigeria.
While the country scored 27/100 and was ranked 136th in 2016, the new CPI scores Nigeria 28/100 but with a rank 148 out of 180 countries surveyed — a significant 12 places below where it was the previous year.
This year’s CPI highlighted that the majority of countries, including Nigeria, were making little or no progress in ending corruption, while further analysis showed that journalists and activists in corrupt countries were risking their lives every day in an effort to speak out.
It is believed that the new CPI will disappoint President Muhammadu Buhari who came into office on the strength of his anti-corruption credential.
Although his administration has put many suspects on trial and seized assets of politicians and government officials, it has also been accused of condoning corrupt practices by top government officials.
The index, which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople, uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean.
This year, the index found that more than two-thirds of countries scored below 50, with an average score of 43. Unfortunately, compared to recent years, this poor performance is nothing new.
This year, New Zealand and Denmark ranked highest with scores of 89 and 88 respectively. Syria, South Sudan and Somalia ranked lowest with scores of 14, 12 and nine respectively.
“The best performing region is Western Europe with an average score of 66. The worst performing regions are Sub-Saharan Africa (average score 32) and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (average score 34),” Transparency International stated.
Since 2012, several countries significantly improved their index score, including Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and the United Kingdom, while several countries declined, including Syria, Yemen and Australia, it added.
Further analysis of the results indicated that countries with the least protection for press and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) also tend to have the worst rates of corruption.
“Every week at least one journalist is killed in a country that is highly corrupt.
“The analysis, which incorporates data from the Committee to Protect Journalists, showed that in the last six years, more than nine out of 10 journalists were killed in countries that score 45 or less on the index.
“No activist or journalist should have to fear for their lives when speaking out against corruption. Given current crackdowns on both civil society and the media worldwide, we need to do more to protect those who speak up,” it added
It stressed the need for governments and businesses to 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.
“Civil society and governments should promote laws that focus on access to information. This access helps enhance transparency and accountability while reducing opportunities for corruption. It is important, however, for governments to not only invest in an appropriate legal framework for such laws, but also commit to their implementation.
“Activists and governments should 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. “Specifically, governments must ensure access to information and the protection of fundamental freedoms and align these to international agreements and best practices,” it stated further.
In addition, Transparency International stated that the newly released Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) should provide a good baseline for the African Union (AU) anti-corruption efforts in 2018.