Inderscience Publishers

Corruption in Nigeria: how effective is the corruption perception index in highlighting the economic malaise?

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Among the numerous problems facing Nigeria in 21st century is the bad image, which is rightly or wrongly portrayed by the Corruption Perception Indices orchestrated under the framework of Berlin-based Transparency International (TI). In 1999 TI released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranking 99 countries in order of their perceived levels of corruption with number one being the least corrupt, Nigeria at number 98, was only one rank above its neighbour Cameroon. In a more recent version released in London in October 2003, Nigeria at number 132 – was still only one rank above Bangladesh – even though the number of countries in the latter poll had increased to 133 countries. Typically, a score of less than 5 out of a clean score of 10 reflects perceived levels of corruption among politicians and public officials, while scores of less than 3 out of 10 indicates a high level of corruption. With an abysmal score of 1.3, therefore, Nigeria fits the bill of a highly corrupt country that needs a miracle in order to return its economy to a more governable status. This paper, however, argues that the CPI is not a sufficient indicator of the level of corruption in developing countries such as Nigeria. It adopts a more holistic approach to unmask the entrenched nature of corruption against the background that more often than not only one perspective is reflected in the CPI. Bribery is argued to be another dimension to take into account when designing the CPI, therefore, making it imperative to incorporate the Bribe Payers Index into the CPI calculus in order to present a more holistic and hence more credible measure of corruption levels in countries – especially Nigeria.

Keywords: bribe payers index, bribery, corruption levels, corruption perception index, CPI, Nigeria, Transparency International, TI, developing countries

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