Yesterday’s release of the Corruption Perceptions Index prompted the annual, dreary, unproductive pattern of overblown press releases and gnashing of teeth. Critics cite their government’s failure to sharply increase its CPI score as an excuse for issuing press releases bashing it for failings of every kind. The teeth gnashing comes from those in governments doing their best to fight corruption and frustrated that their efforts have had no discernable impact on the score.
No part of my work helping countries curb corruption has been more frustrating than trying to explain to the media, dedicated government corruption fighters, and civil society that they should stop making such a fuss about yearly changes in CPI scores. As Matthew reiterated in yesterday’s post (for the umpteenth time), short-term comparisons are “a pointless, misleading, intellectually bankrupt exercise.” But my explanations, GAB posts, and the academic literature explaining in excruciating detail why it takes years if not decades for anticorruption reforms to affect a nation’s CPI score have all fallen on deaf ears.
Thankfully, government corruption fighters and their supporters in Nigeria have found a way to use release of the CPI to advance the fight against corruption. As explained here, last year its Minister of Information and Culture responded to the release of the CPI with a statement describing what the government had done over the past year to prevent corruption. This year the Nigerian Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, TI’s national chapter, issued a statement putting the CPI in context and highlighting reforms underway and where more needs to be done.
Most importantly, rather than using the release of the CPI to criticize the many Nigerian public servants who spend their days fighting corruption, it went out of its way to applaud them, saying:
“It is important to stress that [the CPI score] is not an assessment of Nigeria’s anti-graft agencies who are making commendable efforts in reducing (in the fight against) corruption in Nigeria despite the political interference they face.
The full text of the Advocacy Centre’s statement follows. It merits close study by all those looking for ways to transform the annual, dreary, unproductive ritual around release of the CPI into something that can help produce results in the fight against corruption.Continue reading