The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has rejected the assessment of Bubari administration by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC).
Reacting to the current rating by CISLAC, Mohammed described it as unfair and unacceptable.
CISLAC, a non-governmental organisation, had on March 23 in Abuja addressed a press briefing where it allegedly accused the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration of lack of transparency in the recovery of stolen assets.
However, fielding questions from State House correspondents in Abuja on Wednesday, the minister dismissed CISLAC’s accusation, saying the assessment is not truly a reflection of the realities on ground.
He said: “I think that I’m aware of that particular rating which was not quite flattering to Nigeria, but our position, which I’ve declared before is that that rating does not truly reflect the great strides that the administration has made in the area of fighting corruption.
“The government has put in place various reforms in fighting corruption, but some of these reforms will take time to yield the desired results because the matrix used by TI is not just about grafts alone.
“It includes how transparent or how opaque the services are and you’ll find out that when we scored in the 2018, 2019 transparency reports, we realised that we scored very low in the area of ease of doing business in particular.’’
The minister stated that the Federal Government had embarked on various reforms aimed at tackling cases of corrupt practices in both private and public sectors of the economy to improve the country’s rating by the Transparency International (TI).
“That is why the federal government embarked on reforms, especially at the seaports, because that is one area where we scored very low.
“You will see that in recent times, we’ve embarked on numerous reforms at our seaports so that our rating will improve.
“For instance, we realised that following the release of 2019 TI corruption perception index, we initiated reforms to improve on ease of doing business indices.
“This is because we found that up to 40 per cent of the country’s corruption perception survey indices related to business, process and general public service delivery.
“So, that is why we are concentrating on the ease of doing business, making sure that people can get to the ports, clear the goods in good time and by the time some of these forms start yielding fruits, I’m sure that perception will improve,’’ he added.
Mohammed further disclosed that the federal government had put in place preventive mechanism to check corruption rather than prosecution.
He said: “We believe that it’s more important to put in place preventive mechanism rather than prosecution and this preventive mechanism that we’ve put in place include the programme launched by the ICPC, which is what they called the National Ethics Policy.’’
According to him, this policy addresses integrity issues in all sectors of the polity and is directly linked to the pillar of national anti-corruption strategy.
He revealed that the Code of Conduct Bureau had also put in place some preventive measures, especially in the area of energising the code of conduct for public officers
Mohammed disclosed that the Council for Ease of Doing Business recently launched the Nigerian Ports Process manual meant to help people doing business at the nation ports.
“In addition, we actually also analysed the process that the TI used in the rating that was used recently and we found quite a few discrepancies in the rating process, including some data sources in which Nigeria’s course has remained flat over the past 10 years.
“What we said is that we take this ratings seriously, so we actually went and analysed the ratings and we found that there’ve been some gaps.
“It’s either we’ve not flooded enough data or they have not revised all data because we found it strange that the country’s rating in certain areas has remained the same for a period of 10 years.
“We are taking the media measures so that they can get this data in respect of these sectors because we believe that it’s not possible for you not to improve, for you not to lose points for 10 years. So there’s a bit of discrepancy there,’’ he said.