The Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission [ICPC] is poised to establish a Nigeria Corruption Index. The index is aimed at facilitating a more robust approach to tackling Nigeria’s problems through proffering better solutions to same. Speaking at a national meeting of stakeholders on the project, ICPC Chairman Professor Bolaji Owasonoye said given the situation whereby the surveys on which much of the corruption rating of the country are based on externally designed parameters, the surveyors may not ask the right questions or go to the right places to get the right answers.
He said there was the need to domesticate the processes in order to capture more realistic perspectives of the challenge of corruption in Nigeria. The ICPC boss however assured that the exercise was not intended to target or witch-hunt any particular individuals or groups, but to prevent further crimes. Justifying the Nigeria Corruption Index project,Provost of the Anti-Corruption Academy Professor Sola Akinrinade pointed out how the various anti-corruption indices around the world were putting governments everywhere on their toes, hence Nigeria needed to provide a home-based response to the situation. Akinrinade was quick to point out that the exercise was not intended to displace the existing corruption indices, but just to accentuate the Nigerian context in its peculiarities.
The creation of this Nigerian anti-corruption index is a good one and it fits neatly into the anti-corruption posture of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. This is especially so given its promise to offer a more in-depth and therefore more realistic perspective on the peculiarities of the Nigeria’s socio-political milieu in which the challenge of corruption thrives.While the issue of corruption may feature in different perspectives across the various countries of the world, there still exist peculiarities that define the specific playout of the syndrome across them. Hence the adoption of generic parameters by much of the anti-corruption agencies around the world and their deductions often fall far away from the realities in some environments.
For instance, the peculiarities associated with the challenge of corruption in Nigeria derive from factors that are unique to the country’s political terrain as well as the quality of governance processes. A trending definition of corruption as ‘dishonest and fraudulent conduct by those in power(public offices of trust), typically involving bribery’, is relevant to the Nigerian situation with respect to the Nigeria Corruption Index project.The mismatch between the consolidation of modernity and associated processes of public formal administration in the countryand the disposition of the various sections of the population to remain attached and loyal to their primordial ethnic bases, is believed to engender significant reluctance to the fight against corruption in the country.
An immediate casualty of this syndrome is the problem of varied definitions and viewpoints about corruption and its circumstances across the various sections of the society. The immediate negative dividends from this situation are the endemic syndromes of favouritism and nepotism in the politics and administrative processes in the country. Due to such factors, even routine reportage of corruption and relevant remediation measures may be compromised. Little wonder that the country’s fight against corruption has been a victim of disharmony in perception by some key stakeholders in ensuring a corruption free Nigeria. It would seem a case of one man’s poison being another’s meat.
While it is a welcome idea to develop a Nigeria Corruption Index, ICPC and its other promoters should expect the idea to sail into a cloud of suspicion and skepticism at the outset. Many people are bound to think that the purpose of the new index is to whitewash this country’s problem rather than seek a meaningful definition of it and a good measurement of its variables. The only way to banish such suspicion is to produce an index that stands the test of time and that aids in the fight against corruption in our society, rather than whitewash or underplay it.