European Corruption Research Centre Ranks Nigeria High on Digitalization, Raises Concerns on Press Freedom

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Prof. Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, Director, European Research Centre for Anti-Corruption and State-Building

The European Research Centre for Anti-Corruption and State-Building (ERCAS), a think tank established to offer an Anti-Corruption Toolbox dedicated to civil society activists against corruption, journalists, and scholars, has ranked Nigeria high on digitalization as well as for outperforming its region on transparency but expressed concerns about the country’s regression in judicial independence and freedom of the press.

The Centre therefore called on Nigeria to improve judicial transparency, pointing out that the Auditor General’s reports and Supreme Court rulings are not available online to the public.

ERCAS made the finding and the call in the results and analysis of Index for Public Integrity (IPI) 2023 and Corruption Risk Forecast 2024 for 120 countries produced by ERCAS.

According to the report published on https://www.corruptionrisk.org, Nigeria has made significant progress in digitalization, both in terms of government offering online services and civil society adopting e-citizenship. Additionally, Nigeria has surpassed its region (which has a low average) and income group in terms of transparency as the country publishes public contracts on an accessible portal, along with its register of commerce and mining concessions.

The report notes that when it comes to controlling corruption, Nigeria’s performance is a mixed bag. The country’s scores for integrity and transparency are 4.36 out of 10 and 12.5 out of 20, respectively thus placing Nigeria at the 97th position among a total of 119 countries globally for integrity and 66th among 143 countries for transparency. The report says Nigeria performs better than its neighboring countries and the income group it belongs to, in terms of transparency. It however states that the Corruption Risk Forecast for Nigeria remains unchanged, indicating the need for persistent efforts to fight corruption.

On a closer examination of the components, it is evident that Nigeria’s landscape is dynamic as there have been positive developments in E-Citizenship and Online Services, with scores increasing by 1 and 1.73 points, respectively. However, the nation is grappling with negative changes in Budget Transparency, Judicial Independence, and Press Freedom, with scores declining by 2.07, 1.18, and 1.47 points, respectively. Notably, the decline in judicial independence and press freedom highlights the need for Nigeria to enhance judicial transparency, ensuring accessibility to crucial documents such as the Auditor General’s reports and Supreme Court rulings. Nigeria’s report can be accessed online at https://www.corruptionrisk.org/country/?country=NGA