Euphoria in Nigeria over international transparency rating

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Nigeria has described its improvement in the latest annual rating by anti-corruption body Transparency International (TI) as an indication that its anti-graft battle is succeeding.

The private Guardian newspaper Friday quoted Federal Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Michael Aondoakaa as saying the country’s improvement in the rating showed the Yar’Adua administration’s commitment to the fight against corruption, despite insinuations to the contrary by critics of the administration.

According to the report, released last month by the Berlin-based organisation, Nigeria has improved its ranking from 147 in 2007 to 121 in 2008 (out of 180 countries).

The country ranked 152 in 2005.

The Minister said in the past one year, ”the present administration under Yar’Adua has demonstrated practical efforts and determination to fight corruption in strict compliance with the laws of the land and without raising any tension. As we have all seen from the latest survey by the TI, we have been able to achieve a lot.

“There is no middle ground between right and wrong. You cannot use wrong approach to achieve right results. This is a President who has chosen propriety in all things. And we have now seen the result,” he said.

Since returning to democratic rule in 1999, Nigeria has launched a sustained battle against corruption.

The anti-graft battle is being spearheaded by two key agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), established by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Critics of the Yar’Adua administration have pointed to the controversial change in the leadership of the EFCC as an indication of a weakening fight against graft.

The government disputes that and said it remained committed to eliminating corruption in Africa’s most populous nation.

Nuhu Ribadu, the policeman widely acclaimed to have led the EFCC to great heights, was replaced by retired police boss Farida Waziri by President Yar’Adua in circumstances seized upon by critics to accuse the administration of toning down the fight against corruption.

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