Garba Shehu, President Mohammadu Buhari’s mouthpiece, on Thursday, rubbished the ranking of Nigeria as the second most corrupt country in West Africa, saying the report was the handiwork of some anti-Buhari elements.
In the statement titled, “President Buhari deserves credit for diminishing corruption in public service,” Mr Shehu said the present regime deserved credit for diminishing corruption in the public service and would continue to vigorously support prevention, enforcement, public education and enlightenment activities of anti-corruption agencies.
The presidential aide said the government was analysing the sources of data used in arriving at the latest TI’s report since the organisation admitted that it does not gather its own data.
He said the report did not accurately portray the facts on the ground in the country.
The statement read, “In the coming days, the Government’s Technical Unit on Governance Research will be providing more detailed information on the sources of the TI data.
“While this is being awaited, the examination carried out on their 2019 report showed that 60 percent of their data was collected from businesses and other entities with issues bordering on transparency and the ease of doing business at the ports.
“Although this is a government ready to learn from mistakes and make corrections, the economy of this country, in its fullness, is bigger than the seaports we have.
“We are also not unaware of the characters behind the TI in Nigeria whose opposition to the Buhari administration is not hidden.
“We have repeatedly challenged TI to provide indices and statistics of its own to justify its sensational and baseless rating on Nigeria and the fight against corruption. We expect them to come clean and desist from further rehashing of old tales.
“A Naira denominated review that excludes recoveries in Dollars, Pounds, Euro shows that a sum of N1.2tn was recovered by EFCC between 2009 — 2019. N939bn of that total was recovered between 2015 – 2019 with less than N300bn recovered in the first six years.
“Additionally, preventative instruments deployed by this administration such as Treasury Single Account, Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System coverage expansion and the removal of 54,000 ghost workers from federal civil service saving us N200bn annually serve as evidence that perception is not reality.”
Shehu argued that reality is based on verifiable facts and data and that any evidence-based analysis would prove that whether it is by prevention or punitive measures in recoveries and prosecution, the present regime would be rising fast up these rankings rather than standing still.
He urged organisations to be factual in their analysis and be prepared to rely on inputs outside of “sensational media reports and age-old narratives” which he said have not been updated to reflect today’s reality in Nigeria concerning its globally-respected war on corruption.
He added, “In the existential fight against this multi-pronged malice and manifestations of corruption, President Muhammadu Buhari has avowed that he would take-no-prisoners, guided by respect for the rule of law.
“We invite Nigerians to stand with an administration that has done so much on asset recovery, prosecution, legislation, political will and leadership by example in the fight against corruption.
“Equally, we urge our friends in the media, development partners and the civil society organisations to continue to support efforts to strengthen accountability, transparency, ethical values and integrity in Nigeria’s public sector.