Funding the Fight against Corruption in Nigeria
Despite years of investment in Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies (the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal (CCB and CCT)), corruption in the country remains endemic. How could their work be made more efficient and effective? To answer this question, the CLEEN Foundation published a study of Nigeria’s 2014 Appropriation Act. The aim of the analysis was to gauge the effectiveness of the Act in empowering the anti-corruption agencies to carry out their mandates, and to assess the commitment of government to fighting corruption in the country. This was achieved through comparative analyses of budget allocations to the four anti-corruption agencies from 2011 to 2014 as well as allocations to the government’s other priority areas.
Since 2009, Nigerian media and public discourse have been dominated by financial scams involving senior politicians and public officials. Citizens and civil society have become increasingly concerned by the culture of impunity for those who plunder public resources. Often, even the efforts to investigate these allegations generate fresh allegations of bribery. Many of the accused go unpunished and remain in government, or receive light sentences if a conviction is secured at all. Consequently, Nigeria continues to receive poor rankings in corruption reports such as Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI)which scored Nigeria 144th out of 177 countries surveyed in 2013.
Changing Trends in Funding Anti-Corruption in Nigeria
With reports of corruption increasing across the country, it might be expected that funding for these agencies would increase over time. However, in the four years since Nigeria’s last general election in 2011, a significant decline in the funding of anti-corruption agencies has been observed. This decline is clear when funding of the agencies is compared over time and against other priority areas of the government. While the smaller agencies saw marginal increases in their allocations between 2011 and 2014, overall funding for these agencies has declined to about 20 billion Naira for 2014, and some of that might not be disbursed to them before the year comes to an end.
To better understand the significance of the funding trend, we contextualise the allocations to anti-corruption agencies against two other areas of public expenditure – the Amnesty Program and the Ministry of Niger Delta. The Amnesty Program was launched in 2009 as a strategy to demobilise restive youths in the Niger Delta and provide opportunities for them to seek productive employment. The budget for this program is about 60 billion Naira. The Niger Delta Ministry was also created in 2009 and is tasked with coordinating development in the Niger Delta region and to supplement the development efforts of the 9 states that make up the region. Over the past four years the budget for the Ministry of Niger Delta rose from about 65 billion to 111 billion Naira. It is important to note that the activities of the Amnesty Program and the Ministry of the Niger Delta benefit some 10 million Nigerians who live there, while the activities of the anti-corruption agencies impact all 170 million Nigerians.
Total allocations to the anti-corruption agencies have remained less than 20 billion Naira since 2012, which comprises just one fifth of the budget of the Ministry of Niger Delta, or the lump sum of 100 billion Naira allocated to the National Assembly for “constituency projects” with no reporting requirements. Comparing the amounts allocated to these areas suggests that the fight against corruption is not the highest priority for the Nigerian government right now.
When this is juxtaposed against the missions of the anti-corruption agencies, it is clear that the agencies need to be better funded and staffed to ensure that they are able to lead the fight against corruption. According to infographics on the Public Interest on Corruption Cases (PICC) portal; in 2013, the EFCC received 2,853 petitions out of which it initiated 234 prosecutions and achieved 113 convictions. This is in addition to assets of 16.9 billion Naira, 10,271 dollars, and 76 landed properties recovered as a result of the prosecution of corruption. If there is that much money to be recovered from successful prosecution of corruption, then it is important that the country invest in the anti-corruption agencies to improve their efficiency.
Strengthening Anti-Corruption Agencies in Nigeria – Thoughts for the Future
Nigerians across all sectors need to work together in order to fight against corruption. The government could support the work of the agencies by making special intervention funds (such as the Sure-P) available. If the anti-corruption agencies were assured of funding for the pursuit of their mandates, they would be better prepared and motivated to prosecute cases. The relationship of funding to effective prosecution is apparent in the case of James Ibori, who the EFCC failed to convict but was later prosecuted in the UK in a case that was said to have cost about 4 million pounds.
While recognising the limited funding available, the agencies could amplify their efforts and generate a ripple effect if they partnered with civil society and the development community to provide citizens more access to information. Civil society can analyse and interpret the agencies’ information to make it more transparent and understandable for citizens. When citizens have access to reliable information about budgets and spending, they are able to become more meaningfully involved, asking questions, promoting transparency, and challenging corrupt practices.
With Partners, under the Access Nigeria project, we have provided support for civil society organisations to get more information to citizens about corruption and effective methods of fighting it. For example, our civil society partners can track the disbursement of allocated funds to these agencies over time to gauge how effectively they are using resources. With information from civil society, and through investigative journalism training that the Institute for War and Peace Reporting is providing under Access Nigeria, the media could also amplify the work of the anti-corruption agencies. Finally, thanks to the vibrant social media and the vast pool of technology experts that BudgIT is mobilising in Nigeria, we can work together to develop tools to draw people’s attention to critical trends and information on anti-corruption in Nigeria using infographics, pictures and charts, as we recently discovered during the Civic Data Codeathon.
* Nengak Daniel Gondyi heads the Lagos office of the CLEEN Foundation. He coordinates the AccessNG project and has worked closely with the anti-corruption agencies of Nigeria as well as other project partners. His other projects include public opinion and crime victimization surveys, reform of the traditional justice system, and research on migration and security in West Africa. He studied International Relations and International Migration in Nigeria and Sweden. You can follow CLEEN Foundation on Twitter: @cleenfoundation