Transparency International (TI) has decried the growing wave of grand corruption worldwide, lamenting that no fewer than six billion people were now affected by the menace.
Transparency International’s chair, Delia Matilde Ferreira Rubio, disclosed this on Tuesday in Abuja while delivering a keynote address at the opening of an international experience-sharing workshop on best practices to address emerging issues organised by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC).
“Our last Corruption Perception Index (CPI) states that 69 percent of the 180 countries we have surveyed are under 50 in our scale.
“Our scale reads from 100, very transparent countries, how public sector is perceived in those countries, and zero, highly corrupt-perceived public sector. 69 percent of those countries are under 50.
“That means that more than six billion people live in context of highly corrupt government and highly corrupt private sector. They are exposed to corruption everyday because corruption has to do with everyday lives of citizens.
“That is what is at stake here. They are facing corruption when they go to ask for a place in schools or when they go to the hospitals. They are also the victims of corruption in cases of grand corruption.
“In many countries, corruption has been normalized as the ordinary way of doing business and misbehaving. We have to fight that. We cannot accept that it is the normal way of doing business from the petty corruption to grand corruption. We have to stop discretionary powers.
We must stop comparing corrupt administrations
“Corruption can happen in any country. It has nothing to do with our countries being in the south or being developing countries or being poor. The difference between countries in our CPI has to do with the reaction.
“The reaction against corruption, not only from the institutions saddled with fighting corruption but the reaction of society. Can you imagine in a country, the Vice Prime Minister had to resign because she used the credit card of the ministry to buy chocolate, Toblerone.
“It was known as the ‘Toblerone scandal.’ She went out of the office, stopped to fuel and then used the official card to pay for fuel and a Toblerone. The following morning, she went to the office and wanted to pay back for the Toblerone. That was eight in the morning. By midday, she had her dismissal letter duly signed.
“It took her more than 15 years to come back to politics because it is unacceptable to use the official credit card for private expenses, a Toblerone. Can you imagine this in my country or here?”
Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa, urged the National Assembly “to also make their budget open to the public and as well comply with the laws passed by the institution such as Freedom of Information Act 2011, Public Procurement Act 2007, etc.”
“We also use this medium to call on NASS to ensure quick passage of subsequent budgets by not allowing personal or party interests to override the national interest.”
While hailing the Federal Government for its Open Government Partnership, Musa said Nigerians would be greatly interested “ in seeing the beneficial ownership operationalized and the FOI being complied with”.
Former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili and the board chairman of CISLAC, Ibrahim Ya’u, noted that corruption was a key factor in Nigeria’s underdevelopment, calling on all stakeholders to work in synergy to reduce the menace.