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Was Nigeria President right about his Transparency International claim?
October 02 , 2012
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The Summary 

Comparing Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Indexes for 2001 and 2011, Nigeria was the 3rd (tied with Poland) most improved country in fighting corruption after Bangladesh and Uruguay. If the President’s claim was based on this, as reported by the nation’s Ministry of Information, then he was technically correct, but wrong to have said ”second most improved”.

Read on.

The Issue

October 1 is public holiday in Nigeria: not Thanksgiving Day or a day set aside to celebrate the birth of a prophet, but Independence Day. And as usual, the citizens await the early morning speech from the President, which comes with the usual bragging, pep talk, or even prophecy, all depends on the country’s state at the moment.

President Goodluck Jonathan, the Commander-In-Chief of the most populous black nation, made several statements during his early morning speech, but one stood out gigantically, sparking up criticisms among political pundits and journalists.

His statement:

“In its latest report, Transparency International (TI) noted that Nigeria is the second most improved country in the effort to curb corruption.”  

Few hours after this statement, Premium Times, a Nigerian-based online news media released a post debunking the claim:

http://premiumtimesng.com/news/102095-president-jonathan-lied-in-independence-anniversary-broadcast.html

In the post, Premium Times claimed to have had an email correspondence with Transparency International: 

“PREMIUM TIMES contacted Transparency International seeking a copy of its latest report which the President referred to in his speech. The group replied promptly disowning Mr. Jonathan and saying it had no such report. ‘Transparency International does not have a recent rating or report that places Nigeria as the second most improved country in the fight against corruption,’  the group said in an email to this newspaper.”

On May 4, WikiColumn sent an email to TI’s Communications Officer, Sophie Brown, to confirm a controversial claim made by some Nigerian local news outfits. http://wikicolumn.com/news/transparency-international-debunks-news-of-open-letter-to-nigeria-32

The reply came on May 8 – four days later. That Premium Times got a reply from TI within hours of contacting them via email (not phone call) ignited a passion to look up this issue. This is not saying TI is slow in email responses, but a quick response from TI got our investigative minds ready because a picture of relevance was painted.

24 hours after the President’s speech and Premium Times’ debunking of it, Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Information released a statement clarifying the President’s claim:

“The survey on global corruption perceptions for 2011 versus 2001 showed that the third best improvement in the world was in Nigeria, with its score improving by 1.5 points”. - http://fmi.gov.ng/mr-presidents-statement-was-based-on-notorious-facts/  (now removed)

Now the Facts

TI never released a recent report dubbing Nigeria as the 2nd most improved country in fighting corruption, so the President’s statement citing a “latest report” was wrong.

However, Nigeria’s Ministry of Information explained that the President based his claim “on the survey of global corruption perceptions for 2011 versus 2001”, which was carried out by BusinessDay, “a well-respected newspaper”. 

Comparing the Corruption Perception Indexes for:

2001 - http://archive.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2001 

and

2011 - http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2011/results/

Bangladesh was the most improved country in fighting corruption with a jump of 2.3 (0.4 to 2.7) followed by Uruguay with a jump from 5.1 to 7 (1.9 improvement), and Nigeria was 3rd with a jump from 1.0 to 2.4 (1.4 improvement). Poland also had a 1.4 improvement (CPI jump from 4.1 to 5.5). President Jonathan said, “Nigeria is the second most improved country in the effort to curb corruption” and the country’s Ministry of Information explained that the claim was based, “the survey on global corruption perceptions for 2011 versus 2001 showed that the third best improvement in the world was in Nigeria, with its score improving by 1.5 points”. 

If Transparency International CPIs are anything to go by as benchmarks for checking a country’s progress in fighting corruption, which they seem to be most of the time, then based on the above, the President was wrong to have said ”second most improved”, but the nation’s Ministry of Information was right to say Nigeria was the third most improved country in fighting corruption based on TI’s CPIs for 2011 and 2001 compared.

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