The perception of corruption in Nigeria was worse under former President Olusegun Obasanjo than under any of his successors, a review of data published by Transparency International has shown.
A PREMIUM TIMES analysis of the annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) by Transparency International (TI) showed that while the ranking of countries is relative to the performance of other countries, the index is based on the results of surveys in each country. Countries are scored from zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).
A country’s placement on the ranking may not be because the country was perceived to be more corrupt but because the perception of corruption in other countries changed.
The annual index, however, reflects how much residents of a country perceive it to be corrupt. It, however, does not measure corruption in the real sense, according to Transparency International.
Nigeria’s CPI since 1999
After almost two decades of military rule, Nigeria became a democratic nation in 1999 with Olusegun Obasanjo sworn in as the democratically elected president.
In the eight years that Mr Obasanjo was president, Nigeria’s corruption perception index (CPI) averaged 16 per cent.
Next to Mr Obasanjo was the perception under his immediate successor, Umaru Yar’Adua. Nigeria averaged a CPI of 25 per cent in the three years Mr Yar’Adua was president (2007 to 2010).
Nigeria’s CPI under Mr Yar’Adua’s successor, Goodluck Jonathan, averaged 25.8 per cent for the five years he was in office (2010 to 2015).
President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure, so far, has the highest average score with 26.6 per cent in five years (2015 to 2020).
An overall review of the average CPI since 1999, therefore, shows that the perception of corruption has improved from one administration to the next.
Nigeria’s annual performance
Over the last two decades, Nigeria’s CPI has varied with the annual score ranging from 10 to 28 per cent and its ranking from 90th to 149th.
Between 1999 and 2011, the scale of 0 to 10 was used to grade countries, but transparency international changed the system to 0 to 100 in 2012.
Nigeria’s performance on corruption index between 1999 and 2020
Since 2012, Nigeria’s relatively best year was 2016. The country had a score of 28 per cent and ranked 136 out of the 176 countries surveyed worldwide. With a score of 10 per cent and a ranking of 90 out of 91, the year 2001 was perceived as the country’s most corrupt year since 1999 (the Fourth Republic).
More Details of Annual CPI
Mr Buhari’s tenure as of 2020 averaged 26.6 per cent. Within the five years since he assumed office, the country’s score has ranged between 25 and 28 per cent, and its ranking between 136 and 149, according to Transparency International.
Although the president saw Nigeria’s best year in the first year of his administration, the country’s ranking has gotten worse since 2016.
In 2016, Nigeria’s CPI was 28 per cent. It dropped to 27 per cent in 2017 and maintained the same in 2018. The CPI dropped to 26 per cent in 2019 and dropped again to 25 per cent in 2020.
Between 2016 and 2020, Nigeria also slipped in the country ranking by 13 positions, from 136 in 2016 to 149 in 2020.
The rankings are from 1 to 180, with 180 indicating the country that has the worst perception of corruption.
Mr Buhari’s predecessor, Mr Jonathan, had an average score of 25.8 per cent. The score fluctuated between 24 and 27 per cent and the ranking was between 136th and 143rd in the years Mr Jonathan was president.
Under Mr Yar’Adua, whom Mr Jonathan succeeded, Nigeria had an average perception index of 25.3 per cent. The index was 22 per cent in 2007, 27 per cent in 2008, 25 per cent in 2009 and 24 per cent in 2010.
Nigeria’s CPI averaged 16 per cent under Mr Obasanjo. The lowest was 10 per cent in 2001 while the highest was 22 per cent, in 2006 and 2007.
Transparency International was founded in Berlin in 1993 to combat global corruption. Mr Obasanjo was one of its founders.
The organisation’s mission is to stop corruption and promote transparency, accountability and integrity at all levels and across all sectors of society.
Describing it as a taboo topic, Transparency International said “corruption erodes trust, weakens democracy, hampers economic development and further exacerbates inequality, poverty, social division and the environmental crisis.”
It added that exposing corruption and holding the corrupt to account can only happen “if we understand the way corruption works and the systems that enable it.”
‘Perception of corruption, not corruption itself’
However, the global body believes that the perception of corruption is different from corruption itself.
It noted that “there is no meaningful way to assess absolute levels of corruption in countries or territories on the basis of hard empirical data.”
On its website, the organisation says it does not rely on reported cases of prosecutions or scandals due to bribery and other crimes as they only show how effective prosecutors, the courts or the media are in investigating and exposing corruption in a country.
Hence, it submits, “capturing perceptions of corruption of those in a position to offer assessments of public sector corruption is the most reliable method of comparing relative corruption levels across countries.”