Garba Shehu, senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, has described as “misleading and unfair”, the recent report of Transparency International (TI) that corruption is “getting worse” in Nigeria.
In its latest corruption perception index (CPI), TI said Nigeria dropped from 136 in 2016 to 148 in 2017, out of the 180 countries surveyed.
Reacting on Friday, Shehu said it could be a “political distraction”.
The presidential spokesman said the ranking did not reflect efforts of the federal government in its anti-corruption crusade.
Shehu said even though the presidency welcomes constructive criticisms from TI, the organisation has a responsibility to reflect “the larger picture of the concrete and verifiable achievements” of the current administration in the anti-graft war.
“The government is still wondering the criteria or facts used by the anti-corruption watchdog to arrive at its very misleading and unfair conclusions in its assessment of the federal government’s efforts in this anti-corruption crusade,” Shehu said in a statement.
“It was once unthinkable to touch or prosecute the big men for corruption in Nigeria but President Buhari has ended impunity for corruption. Today, the Buhari administration has made accountability the bedrock of governance and corruption is no longer fashionable because it attracts consequences.”
The presidential spokesman cited leakages blocked through the treasury single account (TSA) as well as recoveries by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as part of the strides made by the federal government in the fight against corruption.
He said the government has also signed international agreements to recover the proceeds of corruption and “to block the laundering of stolen assets abroad by public officials”.
“Anybody who knows where Nigeria was coming from would not believe that corruption is worse under the Buhari administration,” he added.
“We wonder where they got their facts from. At a time, they are alleging increase in corruption under this government, the whole of Africa is applauding by choosing President Buhari as the continental champion to lead the fight against it. Nothing can be more eloquent than this.
“In the end, this whole episode may turn out to be just a political distraction, given the strong views some of TI’s patrons have expressed against the Buhari administration.
“This notwithstanding, facts are facts, and those facts won’t cease to be facts even if you don’t care to pay attention to them.”