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Nigeria's Ranking In The Corruption Index A Wake-Up Call - SERAP

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ABUJA, Oct 27, (THEWILL) - A civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has described Nigeria’s sliding in the Transparency International’s global Corruption Perception Index (CPI) as “a wake-up call for the government of President Goodluck Jonathan to demonstrate the required political will to prosecute allegations of high level official corruption no matter who is involved.”

Nigeria emerged 134th of the 178 countries assessed by Transparency International in the Corruption Index released on Tuesday in Berlin, Germany. In the latest position, the country slid four places from last year’s position. Nigeria was ranked 28th among the 47 African countries surveyed. The CPI is a composite index, drawing on 13 different expert and business surveys. Surveys for the CPI were conducted between January 2009 and September 2010.

Reacting to the development, SERAP in a public statement dated 27 October 2010, and signed by the organization’s Executive Director Adetokunbo Mumuni, said that, “Nigeria’s ranking in the TI Corruption Index did not come as a surprise especially given the pervasive culture of impunity enjoyed by perpetrators of high level official corruption in the country. But it also shows that the government’s efforts to tackle the problem are simply not working. The government is shirking from the fight against corruption, and letting down millions of Nigerians while benefiting only a few government’s staunch backers.”

The organization said that “lack of solid political will to fight high level official corruption remains an impediment to the full enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights in Nigeria. Despite making the fight against corruption one of its key agenda, the government continue to lag behind Nigeria’s international obligations and commitments to fight corruption.”

“The government’s lack of political will and good faith to fight official corruption is demonstrated by its lukewarm attitude towards bringing to justice those accused of official corruption in the Siemens and Halliburton cases; and its failure to disclose how much stolen public funds have been recovered and the use to which recovered money have been put,” the organization added.

“The fight against corruption has been bought over and politicised, with innocent Nigerians paying heavy prices. There is now a growing public skepticism about the ability of the government to successfully combat high level official corruption and to promote public accountability,” the organization also said.

The organization also said that, “because corruption is well entrenched in Nigeria, fighting it requires not only a minimum level of political will and an adequate and sensible strategy, but also involves being ready and able to confront powerful interest groups that clearly benefit from the status quo and will resist any such initiatives.

“High level official corruption will continue to grow and eat deep into the public treasury and lead to worsening poverty and economic inequality if the government does not change its policy of shielding powerful politicians from prosecution.”