Recently, the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) released by Transparency International (TI), showed that corruption is on the increase in Nigeria. The country scored 24 out of 100 points in the CPI 2021, which is one point less, compared to the score of 2020.
In the Corruption Perceptions Index 2021, Nigeria ranks 154 out of 180 countries and territories, falling back five places from the rank of 149 in 2020.
Also on its website, Transparency International explained that Nigeria hit a historic low on the 2021 CPI. The CPI is TI’s tool for measuring the levels of corruption in the systems of various countries around the world.
The maximum points a country can score is 100 points, and the least is zero. Zero signifies the worst performing countries and 100, the best-ranked.
Giving reasons for Nigeria’s worse corruption ranking, Transparency International revealed that seven factors contributed to it, which include, the damning audit report; security sector corruption; failure to investigate high profile corruption cases; illicit financial flows (IFFs); absence of asset recovery, protection of whistle-blowers, and other key anti-corruption legal frameworks; judicial challenges; corruption in the COVID-19 response and Twitter ban, shrinking civic space and intimidation of human rights defenders.
Today, I am going to talk about one component of the factors, which is shrieking civic space. Citizens everywhere are finding it more and more difficult to have their voices heard. All over the globe, peaceful protesters are brutally attacked, investigative journalists are threatened and organisations promoting rights are raided or shut down.
While many activists are attacked because they fight to defend the rights of minorities or oppose brutal dictatorships/bad leadership, a growing numbers are targeted because they seek to expose corrupt politicians and officials who abuse positions of power for personal gain.
Much like corruption, civic space violations are now perpetrated in all parts of the world – rich and poor, democratic and authoritarian countries, especially in Nigeria.
There are two types of poverty, metric and non-metric poverty. Non-metric poverty is one in which the citizens cannot speak, their voices have been taken away from them by way of harassment, intimidation among others.
When the civil society organisations, do not by virtue of suppression, violation and attacks or threat of attacks, could not express themselves, protest against bad leadership, it leads to corruption because the elected representatives will continue to hold sway abusing public offices.
The elected representatives may enjoy the lure of the moment while the civic space is shrieked. But as time goes on, such like Transparency International has done, what savored them in the comfort of the offices/homes, will certainly saddened them. Unfortunately, the generality of the public bears that negative tag of a corrupt country and the world looks at each person from that prism.
The civil society organisations must not stop to place their positions on some policies that are anti-people. That role saves the states and the country from the embarrassment of continually go up the ladder of corruption.
Apart from the fact that international agencies/donors do not stake a fortune in a state whose civic space is not open for citizens’ participation. When that’s not done, the multiplier effects of the benefits of their investment/grants are denied the citizens.
Today, investment keeps going to Enugu and Anambra states in droves because the civic space is not shrieked. International agencies/donors flood into these states with huge investments. No wonder the states are doing well in terms of civil society practice than other states.
In Imo State, there’s hardly any civil society organisation that has taken it upon herself to mobilize other civil society organisations to begin to engage the government on some of the policies towards making sure that citizens are brought into active participation. The aloofness of some of the civil society organisations in Imo State for instances is not healthy even to the State government.
The state governments need to bring in the civil society organisations to help them in governance. How many of the civil society organisations have been co-opted to interpret the policies of government, bearing in mind that all the technical experts one needs, one can find in the bowel of civil society organisations.
We can start fighting corruption by at least opening up the civic space for greater citizens’ participation