By Joel Popoola
60% of 10 Africans live in a country where governance has improved since 2010. Nigerians are not amongst them.
The very best thing we can say about Nigeria’s performance in a new international assessment of governance in Africa is that our government is not seen to be as corrupt as our private sector.
The Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) this week scored Nigeria an embarrassing 26/100 for corruption in state institutions and 25/100 for corruption in public procurement.
These awful results are at least better than those “achieved” for corruption in the private sector – 19/100.
It is pretty much the only positive the government can take from a report which ranks Nigeria 34th out of 54 for overall governance and highlights “increasing deterioration” in the governance of our nation – things are bad, and they are getting worse.
The report makes troubling reading for all of Africa, with governance across the continent declining for the first time on record, with deterioration detected in participation, rights, rule of law and security, and authors warning that “institutional checks and balances are on a concerning trajectory”.
Nonetheless, six out of 10 Africans live in a country where governance has improved since 2010. Nigerians are not amongst them – in fact we are one of only five countries to record a decline in rating in both rule of law and rights and inclusion.
There are plenty of what the report calls “warning signs” for Nigeria, including the following scores: 21/100 for a functioning criminal justice system (ranking in the lowest performing quarter of nations) 25/100 for political party financing 30/100 for disclosure of financial information 35/100 for law enforcement 32/100 for equal political power (ranking us 38th out of 54).
Across Africa this worsening performance is driven by “two transparency related indicators, accessibility of information and disclosure of financial and judicial information” where “little progress has been made in a decade”.
Perhaps this is why Nigeria performs noticeably poorly when it comes to the publically perceived Accountability of Officials”, scoring just 27/100, barely half the African average and dwarfed by the 74/100 scored by Tanzania.
This research shows Nigerians do not trust their public institutions, and that Nigerians are right not to trust their public institutions.
Vice President Osinbajo spoke perfectly this week, when he recognised the compelling need to rebuild the trust between the government and the governed in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests.
“There is a moral, social and ethical reconstruction to be undertaken…we must rebuild trust between the government and the governed; the vast majority of who are young persons, rebuild trust between law enforcement agents and the communities that they are meant to serve,” he said.
“We have also realised that order itself in a social context is sustained by the consent of the governed,” he added.
The IIAG figures lay bare the scare of the challenge. But fine and fancy words are not enough. We cannot just pay lip service to a fundamental – and apparently deserved – lack of trust in our democratic institutions.
Vice President Osinbajo placed his faith in the Judicial Panels of Inquiry established across Nigeria to investigate the causes of the protests. But the IIAG figures show Nigerian judicial independence to have declined since 2010, and with public perception of the integrity of elections in our nation is amongst the worst in Africa (ranked in the bottom third of countries) we cannot say with any confidence at all that the findings of these inquiries will be credible to the public.
At the digital democracy campaign I lead, we are dedicated to using digital technology to drive accountability and transparency in Nigerian public life.
We have created a free mobile app called Rate Your Leader to bring electors and elected closer together. Rate Your Leader allows voters to contact their local representatives person-to-person at the touch of button, opening dialogue, driving collaboration, sharing ideas and building trust.
We all know that personal relationships are the most rewarding, the most productive and the most trusted. That’s why we created a free gateway to make the political more personal.
With enough will from the heart of the government, backed up by the potential of household technology to drive accountability, accessibility and transparency we can start to fix the manifest failings outlined in yet another hugely depressing report.
Joel Popoola is a Nigerian tech entrepreneur and political commentator, digital democracy campaigner and the creator of the Rate Your Leader app.
Yobe Governor, Buni Marries Abacha’s Divorced Daughter, Gumsu
Yobe Governor Mai Mala Buni on Wednesday married Gumsu Sani Abacha in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The marriage was held at the Abuja residence of the new wife’s brother, Mohammed Abacha.
Buni is the All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker National Chairman; Gumsu is a daughter of former Head of State, Sani Abacha.
Notable personalities and government officials, including the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Hameed Ali attended.
In 2019, shortly after he assumed office, Buni tied the knot with Ummy, a daughter of his predecessor and incumbent Yobe East Senator Ibrahim Gaidam.
Gumsu, 45, is the governor’s fourth wife. Her marriage to Cameroonian multi-billionaire, Bayero Mohamadou crashed in 2020.
Wike Locks Down Rivers for LGA Elections
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has ordered restriction of movement ahead of the local government election in the state.
The election is slated for Saturday, April 17 across 4,442 polling units, 319 wards and 23 local government areas.
In a broadcast on Thursday, Wike said the restriction from Friday night to Saturday is needed to ensure the smooth conduct of the election by the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RVSIEC).
The governor assured residents that security agencies will provide adequate protection at all the polling units and collation centres.
“Consequently, vehicular and human movements, within and out of the state and the local government areas is hereby totally restricted from the midnight of Friday, 16th April, 2021, until the end of polling at 5pm on Saturday, 17th April, 2021, except for persons and vehicles strictly on essential duties with genuine and valid identifications,” Wike said.
“The security agencies have been directed to strictly enforce the restriction on human and vehicular movements and arrest and prosecute any person who dares to violate this ban. I have been briefed and received assurances from the RVSIEC that it is fully prepared and ready not only to conduct, but also to ensure that polling is hitch-free, fair and credible.
“Furthermore, the security agencies have clear directives to arrest and deal decisively with any person or group of persons, no matter how highly placed, who attempts to prevent the peaceful and orderly conduct of the election or compromise its integrity in any way.
“We call on community leaders and the general public to be vigilant and promptly report every suspicious movement and or illegal activity around polling units and collation centres in their localities to the security agencies for immediate action.”
Wike added that his administration will always ensure the promotion of democratic principles, including the election of officials at local government levels across the state.
“As a government that believes in the practice and consolidation of democracy, and in fulfilment of our constitutional duty to ensure the sustenance of democratically-elected local government councils in the state, we have since decided never to run our local government system with caretaker committees, except in inevitably justifiable circumstances,” he said.
“It is against this background that this election has been fixed to once again give our people the opportunity to effectively participate in the process of electing and constituting the next set of chairmen and councillors to administer the 23 local government councils.”
The governor urged voters to conduct themselves peacefully and refrain from any act of violence, adding that the election is not a do-or-die affair.
EFCC Frees Okorocha after Two Days Detention
Rochas Okorocha, former governor of Imo state, has been released from the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), two days after he was invited for questioning.
Okorocha, who is currently representing Imo west at the senate, was grilled at the EFCC office in Abuja on Tuesday, over issues bothering on alleged corruption.
The former governor, who was in charge of Imo from 2011 to 2019, had been accused by the state government of various corrupt practices including diversion of public funds — although Okorocha has denied any wrongdoing.
Documents obtained by TheCable showed how the former governor awarded 12 contracts worth N20 billion in violation of the public procurement act.
TheCable had also reported how a government committee uncovered N112.8 billion “dubious debts”, which various banks owed the state during Okorocha’s tenure.
Sam Onwuemeodo, Okorocha’s media adviser, confirmed that Okorocha left the custody of the anti-graft agency on Thursday.
“With gratitude to God Almighty, we are delighted to inform the general public that the former governor of lmo state, and by the grace of God, the Senator representing lmo west senatorial district, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, is out of the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and he is now in his house,” the statement reads.
“He left the Commission’s office on the afternoon of Thursday, April 15, 2021.”
Onwuemeodo, who described Okorocha’s invitation to the EFCC’s office as a “trip” said the former governor had earlier given the assurance that he will cooperate fully with the agency.
“We didn’t bother about whether he spent 24 hours or 48 hours at the Commission’s office. We were only keen in his having the needed opportunity to address the allegations contained in the avalanche of petitions written by the lmo State Government, against the former governor,” the spokesman said.
“Remember also that we had alluded that EFCC was not a slaughter house, but a responsible institution, established for the good of the nation and her people. And Okorocha being in his house today, only confirmed our hypothesis that, indeed, the Commission’s office is not an abattoir.”