Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on Friday said the Nigerian government’s war against corruption will not be won by “sentiments” and “media trials”.
He said attention should rather shift to “the facts.”
“We must try to identify why, though we have been ostensibly fighting corruption for the past few years, Transparency International, the official global anti-corruption monitoring agency, has not increased our Corruption Perception Index rating,” Mr. Abubakar said while picking the Silverbird’s 2017 man of the year award in Lagos Friday.
In what appears a direct smack on the Buhari administration, Mr. Abubakar noted that in terms of corruption war, “The last time we made progress was in 2014.”
His comments came days after Transparency International announced in its new report that Nigeria’s corruption perception worsened between 2016 and 2017, driving a wedge between the Buhari administration and its critics.
Nigeria ranked 148 out of 180 countries evaluated in 2017, dropping 12 positions from 2016.
The presidency rejected the findings as a “fiction”, with Mr. Buhari’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, saying those who know “where Nigeria was coming from would not believe that corruption is worse under the Buhari administration.”
The Buhari administration has been criticised for its anti-corruption tactics, especially over how corruption cases that are under investigation often find their way into the newspapers.
The government is also accused of allowing its own corrupt officials and cronies of the administration escape prosecution.
Mr. Abubakar said Transparency International’s results showed that corruption is still endemic in Nigeria and would require concerted efforts to combat.
“Not to belabour the point, but we have to kill the snake of corruption that swallows the commonwealth that should lift our people up from poverty,” Mr. Abubakar said.
“Whether that snake is in a JAMB Office or any other government office, we must kill it or it will kill us,” Mr. Abubakar added in a reference to recent corruption allegations at the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board.
Mr. Abubakar, who has said he would run for president in 2019, said corruption could condemn more Nigerians to poverty which could worsen crime rate if not urgently addressed.
“This month of February 2018, according to the World Poverty Clock, Nigeria has just overtaken India as the world’s capital of extreme poverty. There are more extremely poor people in Nigeria than there are in India, a country that has six times Nigeria’s population.
“When people do not have jobs and the means to start a business are beyond their reach, they are incrementally much more likely to engage in criminal behaviours like terrorism, kidnapping, militancy and armed robbery,” Mr. Abubakar said.