President Muhammadu Buhari Friday hit back at Transparency International over its corruption perception index indicating that corruption was getting worse in Nigeria.
Buhari, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Malam Garba Shehu, described as misleading and unfair, the ranking of 148 given Nigeria out if 180 countries surveyed.
Shehu said President Buhari asked the anti-corruption watchdog to focus on facts, not fiction.
He said while the Presidency noted and welcomed constructive criticisms from the Transparency International, the organization has a responsibility to reflect the larger picture of the concrete and verifiable achievements of the Buhari administration since it came into office in May 2015.
He said the Presidency was 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.
He said political will is the first major component of fighting corruption in any country and Buhari had made a huge difference by demonstrating it with the extraordinary courage to go after high profile looters, including former military service chiefs and judges.
He said the rating might turn out to be just a political distraction given the strong views some of Transparency International’s patrons had expressed against the Buhari administration.
The presidential spokesman said notwithstanding, facts are facts, and those facts will not cease to be facts even if one does not care to pay attention to them.
Shehu stated: “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.
“Blocking leakages for corruption through the rigid enforcement of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) had made life tougher for corrupt officials. He regretted that these efforts were not acknowledged by the Corruption Watchdog.”
He said the figures published by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission reveal that N738.9 billion was recovered in just two years of the Buhari administration “and this impressive and unprecedented record is worthy of mention and acknowledgement by anybody genuinely looking at the larger picture of the country’s progress in the war against corruption.
“During the 7th session of the Conference of State Parties to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in Vienna, Austria, the Chairman of the Agency Ibrahim Magu noted that the figure represents $2.9 billion dollars.
“Besides these impressive recoveries of looted funds, the EFCC has recorded more than 140 successful prosecutions.
“The Federal 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.
“We wonder where they got their facts from. At a time, they are alleging increase in the incidence of 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,” he said.