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Saturday, 19 December 2009

Doing Business but Suffering in Silence

According to the World Health Organisation, gender-based violence is a major public health and human rights problem throughout the world. Though the assault is carried on in the privacy of the home, the violation is widely seen as a "private" family affair, and for some - a normal part of life.

In Kenya, an estimated 49% of married women were physically abused by their husbands (Borwankar et. al, 2008). Though violence against women mainly occurs in the form of physical and sexual assault; it takes many forms including emotional abuse, verbal abuse, and economic abuse.

Economic abuse includes the controlling of finances; not allowing one's partner to venture into enterprise; taking a partner's money without her permission; denying access to, or knowledge of finances as well as using a partner's finances or credit for personal gain.

Socialisation of the girl child

Women entrepreneurs fall victim in part to economic abuse due to familial socialization from the time of birth. From a tender age, socialization which is the process of inheriting norms, customs and ideologies differentiates girls from boys. As boys grow up, they learn to be the head of their future homes as well as being the main (if not only) breadwinners. Girls in turn are socialized to be the home makers and caregivers.

In some settings, a girl’s day starts early. She wakes up to go fetch water and ensure breakfast is ready before she sets off to school. Her brother on the other hand has the luxury of sleeping in. Between the two, the chances of attaining higher grades are in favour of the boy. Then there is the practice of early marriage that dooms young women to lives where they never have the opportunity to actualise their aspirations.

Though education is one way in which women can emancipate themselves from the grip of the culture of male domination, the education system has only served to perpetuate the proposition that women should be more “arts” oriented than their science oriented brothers. Women are under-represented in tertiary institutions where they would have had the opportunity and facilities to hone their entrepreneurial skills. This in turn adversely affects their business growth potential.

McDowell and Pringle (1992) have argued that women are not only constantly defined in relation to men, but are defined as dependent and subordinate to them as well. This has been manifested in the low numbers of women entrepreneurs in “manly” sectors such as manufacturing. Women tend to operate micro service oriented enterprises with low possibilities for growth. The International Finance Corporation in Kenya has found that despite their potential, women-owned businesses which predominate in trade and service sectors, are smaller and less likely to grow.

And, all their early experiences and nurtured perceptions result in some established women entrepreneurs being disempowered when it comes to making independent decisions about how to spend their business profits as well as the direction for their businesses’ growth. Moreover, though many women empowerment programes focus on entrepreneurship development as a means to empower women, they neglect to design and implement ways to address gender based violence towards so-called “empowered” women.

WHO Controls The Purse Strings?

Then there is the issue of who actually “wears the trousers”, or has control of the household or business budget. Though single-motherhood and female headed households are becoming more common, these homes tend to be poorer than male headed homes.  According to the International Fund for Agriculture & Developmet (IFAD), the reasons are that female headed households tend to have a higher dependency ratio in spite of their smaller average size, and also have less access to resources.

An unfortunate trend has also been recognized where there is the self-perpetuating cycle of these women heads of household also causing their daughters to assume the same roles of unpaid house-help and caregivers, whilst their sons are urged to study so they can in future pull the family out of poverty.

Thus the question for development experts is: what is the use of trying to improve women’s livelihoods while such male dominating norms and perceptions continue to thrive?

Ending the silence

Through the emergence of micro-finance pioneered by Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, financial institutions and policy makers have come to acknowledge the challenges women entrepreneurs face, not least in accessing loans. However once credit is given, who is to say that the beneficiary can keep to the loan agreement if her partner insists on having if not a share then all of the money?

Lack of access to education and opportunity, and low status are correlated to violence against women. Long term socialisation and inaction has meant that many women do not seek help or report abuse when it occurs. Cultural norms, lack of awareness, community pressure and widespread insensitivity of officials have also contributed to the fact that the majority of women who are abused suffer in silence.

Though the educational system needs to take into consideration the inequalities of the girl child when they enroll in school, it is ultimately most vital that there is a committed move to strengthen policy and legal frameworks to recognize economic abuse and outlaw all forms of gender based violence.

Monday, 7 December 2009

African Leaders are saboteurs of development

By Lord Aikins Adusei


It is a waste of time to argue that there is anything remarkable or worth emulating about the brand of leadership that is seen in Africa. Throughout Africa not a single country has been able to deliver its people from poverty, malnutrition and diseases. Almost all countries in Africa South of the Sahara are facing deep poverty and that includes resource rich counties like Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Senegal, Gabon, Cameroon, Ghana, and even South Africa.

Everywhere in the world whenever the word Africa is mentioned four words come to mind: poverty, hunger, wars and diseases. Apart from Botswana where the leaders have relatively been able to use their resources to advance the development of their people, the rest of Africa is nothing but misery. Misery in sense that the average African is hardly able to live one-third of the comfort that a citizen of the global north (US, Canada and Europe) is able to enjoy in his/her lifetime. Apart from the corrupt politicians, dictators and their cronies who live in luxury, the rest of the population have to survive the harsh realities of the African economy on less than two dollars a day.

Why is black Africa so different? Any time the question of poverty is raised black African leaders are quick to point to colonialism and slavery. But it is a fact that the era in which everything is blamed on colonialism and slavery is past and gone. India, South Korea, Malaysia, Hong Kong were all colonised yet they have been able to shake themselves of what Dambisa Moyo terms the 'four apocalypse of hunger, disease, war and poverty'.

A visit to rural parts of Ghana shows that very little has changed economically since independence more than 50 years ago. In spite of the availability of tractors and other advanced farming technologies that can be employed to increase productivity, farmers in Ghana still cultivate and harvest their crops with cutlasses and hoes, tools their forefathers used before they were colonised. 

The situation in Niger, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Togo, Benin is not different from that of Ghana. The extreme poverty and deprivation in countries in the Horn of Africa region and Ethiopia in particular continue to baffle economists and development thinkers after so much aid money has been poured into that region to no avail as politicians divert aid money into their own private bank accounts.

Any major study about why Africa is so different from the rest of the world points to the kind of leadership that exists in Africa. The leaders in Africa love power and will do anything to get it: rigging elections, organizing thugs to cause mayhem and violence, refusing to step down when their term of office end. The likes are Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, Mamadou Tandja of Niger and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe who employed violence and intimidation against members of opposition parties after loosing elections.

The leaders love to be worshiped and served as kings even though they claim to be servants of the people. They love to live in fine palaces, drive in convoys, attend state functions, deliver long speeches yet do not raise a finger to fight poverty and deprivation that are so common in their countries. 

African politicians and traditional leaders and those in control of economic and political affairs are always interested in titles and the financial rewards that go with their office not the responsibilities attached to the office. Ghana's current President is a Law Professor but he seems to have no clue on how to move his country forward. He is surrounded by others with academic titles similar to his but the ministries, departments and the sectors they head have not changed since they took office earlier this year.

Malawi's president holds a doctorate degree but his country is no different from that of Togo, DRC or Gabon which are all being governed poorly by children of former dictators and thieves who took decades to mismanage their countries' economies and resources. Nigeria's current president has been titled "the first graduate president of Nigeria" but Nigeria with all its oil revenue and human resource is still deep in poverty, sometimes not even finding enough petrol to feed her economy despite being the biggest oil producer in Africa.

This contrasts the president of Brazil, Lula Da Silva who used to be a shoe shine boy and street vendor but is increasingly turning his country into an economic power house, thereby steering his country into economic independence and freedom . Where did Yar' Dua leave his thinking cap when he became president or what did he graduated from? I want to know because I still wonder why they are not applying what they learnt in school to free their countries from the international disgrace and weakness that have come to be associated with the continent. A poor Cuban seeking to leave her communist country said she "would be prepared to go anywhere except Africa". When asked why she said "how can I jump out of a frying pan into fire?". Meaning she cannot leave a bad situation in Cuba and get into a worse one in Africa.

In a conversation with a female Professor in Stockholm, Sweden about the poverty situation in Africa she asked angrily "well the leadership in Gabon claim to have used the huge oil revenue for infrastructure investment but is that the reality on the ground?" She continued, "Democratic Republic of Congo is a mess, Angola, Congo and Equatorial Guinea are an eyesore and as for Nigeria well I reserve my comment".

The monumental failures on the part of African leaders have given birth to the phrase 'Africa South of the Sahara' and the leaders seem to be happy with that phrase. Black African leaders have accepted the phrase with all the negative connotations it carries without reacting to challenge it. The phrase in its proper sense refers to a part of Africa which does not count in global politics; a toddler in everything important in the world, a backward part of the continent that continues to stand still while the rest of humanity is moving forward both technologically and scientifically. Africa whose people live in darkness despite 365 days of sunshine and availability of solar technology to convert the sunshine into solar energy.

It means Africa which is so poor in an economic, social and political sense  - despite being rich in natural resources and hard working people: an Africa which is so poorly governed, whose leaders are corrupt and lack the capacity to plan and to initiate any programme of development on their own without being told to do so or helped by outsiders.

Africa where infrastructure decay is a norm, where rural life is nothing but a condemnation to abject poverty, hopelessness, misery and frustration. 

Africa where ethnicity and tribalism are exploited by corrupt dictators and opportunists bringing a wave of negative tendencies of cronyism, nepotism, corruption and conflicts in its trail. 

Africa where politicians are happy to exploit the ignorance and illiteracy that have enslaved and prevented its people from taking their rightful place in the world community of continents.

Africa that has not learned anything from its colonial experience and whose leaders continue to dance to the tune of Western and Chinese rhythm to their own peril; Africa which can be and is being recolonised by China and its rival competitors in Europe and North America through their multinational corporations. (Have you heard of Africom)? 

Africa whose leaders can be bought by multinational corporations with some few thousand dollars and allow multinational corporations to plunder their resources without any accountability.

Africa which is both economically and politically fragmented, having no common foreign policy, and no economic, immigration and agricultural policies and whose leaders see no wisdom in unity and are without a mouth in world affairs.

Africa which is so militarily weak and technologically paralysed to defend itself against external forces, their ideologies, philosophies and cultural pollution.

Africa whose leadership are morally bankrupt to criticise one another. 

Africa whose leaders have great ideas about how to rig and win elections, kill journalists, stifle press freedom, freedom of speech and association but have not the slightest idea as to how to fight chronic poverty. 

Africa whose leaders prefer to steal from their countries and bank their loot in foreign countries instead of using the money to build roads, hospitals, railway tracks, irrigation facilities, schools, electricity, housing and other social and economic infrastructures for the development and benefit of their own people. 

Africa where natural resources are a curse rather than a blessing.

Africa where an illiterate soldier with a gun in hand can easily become a president of a country tomorrow. Examples are Yahyah Jammeh of Gambia, Moussa Camara of Guinea, Gaddafi of Libya, Joseph Kabila of DRC, Mamadou Tandja of Niger, Museveni of Uganda, Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz of Mauritania, Al Bashir of Sudan,Francois Bozize of Central African Republic, Jerry Rawlings of Ghana, Valentine Strasser of Sierra Leone, Sergeant Doe of Liberia, and Kolingba and Jean-Bedel Bokasa of Central African Republic.
Egypt a purely desert country and a member of 'Africa north of the Sahara' recently sent food aid to Uganda, a country rich in minerals, soil, natural lakes, rivers but whose leaders see no wisdom in employing irrigation technology that could be used to increase food production to reduce hunger.

Africa which continues to beg for and depend on foreign aid despite sitting on huge natural wealth an act that defies any economic wisdom. Africa which continues to depend heavily on natural resource exploitation as the main economic activity without diversification despite the dangers of such economic approach to development.

Africa where women are treated as second class citizens, denied political representation and are coerced and used as sex objects and commodities by those in power. 

Africa where child bearing is a matter of life and death, where pregnant mothers die of preventable causes of deaths; where so many children die before they reach the age of five; where child labour and child poverty are the norm, and where both rural and urban children grow without proper education, healthcare, food, shelter, clothing and without future or hope.

Africa where economic hardship put people on death roll and cut short young bright lives. Africa where there is no mortgage, safety net for the poor and the aged and where owning a house or a car can be as daunting as climbing Everest. That is the true meaning of 'Africa South of the Sahara' which the leaders have accepted without a fight.

Most of these leaders make an annual pilgrimage to London, Washington, Tokyo, Berlin, Beijing and see the infrastructures and the living standards of the people in these countries yet nothing pricks them to help their countries to do the same. When they are sick they are quick to take the next available plane to America, Europe or north Africa for treatment but forget to build the same hospitals and other institutions and infrastructures for the good of their countries. After blaming their monumental failures on colonialism and slavery they have now found a new scape goat: climate change and with it they can continue with their decades of inaction without having to lose anything.

Yoweri Museveni seems to be okay living in his palace enjoying almost three decades of his loot of Ugandan resources with his family and cronies. Obiang Nguema and his circle of friends live in their mansions surrounded by bodyguards yet the only 600, 000 people in his oil rich country live in 18th century conditions and likewise Sassou Nguesso of Congo-Brazzaville and Dos Santos of Angola.

The black African leader will accept bribes from companies and interest groups to stop implementing policies, programmes and projects that could help alleviate poverty in his country. The failure of Omar Bongo of Gabon to make his country the Switzerland of Africa can largely be linked to the hundreds of millions of dollars he received as bribes from Elf which allowed the company to loot Gabon's oil proceeds.

It is sad despite being the continent's biggest oil exporter Nigeria does not have a well developed petro-chemical industry and has to import most of her oil products abroad. How come Cameroon is so poor when the country exports oil every day? How come Equatorial Guinea is so poor when it is the third biggest oil exporting nation in Africa?

How come Angola is mired in deep poverty when oil revenues bring the country billions of dollars annually? How come Nigerians live in 18th century environment when oil proceeds flow into the country every day? The answer is the leaders. They are corrupt, power hungry, arrogant, ignorant, illiterate and visionless buffoons, who can neither think out of the box or understand what it means to be president, prime minister, senator, MP, councillor, Assemblyman, or a chief and who prey on the ignorance and powerlessness of their people to stay in power while amassing wealth at the expense of their countries. Chief among them is Yahyah Jammeh a murderer, blood sucker, sometimes a president, sometimes HIV/AIDS healer who makes a mockery of himself and the seat of the presidency in The Gambia and who like the rest of his colleagues in Guinea, Guinea Bissau, CAR, Ethiopia, Burkina Fasso, Niger, Mauritania and Ivory Coast cannot devise plans to steer their countries out of economic predicament.

They are what Ghanaians call 'Konongo kaya' which literally means saboteurs who will not raise a finger to do anything to help their countries and yet will not allow others to do it. Saboteurs whose continuous stay in power is the cause of Africa's woes and underdevelopment. If you happen to be in economic or business class and economic or development regions is discussed you will be surprised to know how Africa is bypassed several times even though it is strategically located at the centre of the globe. The discussion moves from North America to Europe to South East Asia then back to Latin America and to the Middle East without the mention of Africa. All these the leaders do not seem to worry about it. They are not bothered because they no know they are the cause, the saboteurs and enimies of Africa's development.

Black African leaders must put on their thinking caps. It is very disheartening to see women, and children die of starvation in many parts of Africa. At least we know these leaders don't care but at least they should give the people the chance they need to initiate their own development. I hope that some of the advice I have offered will be adhered to by the leaders so that Africa can also take her rightful position in the world community of nations.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Tanzania: PCCB Takes Fire Over Graft Ranking

By Frank Kimboy

The Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) and Judiciary should shoulder the blame for Tanzania's sharp drop in the global corruption rankings, politicians and activists said yesterday.

They told The Citizen that the two key institutions were not doing enough to stamp out entrenched corruption.

Their reaction came after respected anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI) released a report showing that Tanzania has dropped 24 places in this year's Global Corruption Perception Index (CPI).

According to the results released on Tuesday by the Berlin-based body, the country has slipped from the 102nd position in 2008 to the 126th spot this year.

The Leader of the Official Opposition in Parliament, Mr Hamad Rashid Mohammed, said the Judiciary did not act fast to clear pending corruption cases, while the PCCB was dragging its feet in investigating allegations of grand corruption.

Mr Hamad told The Citizen in a telephone interview that although Parliament had been at the forefront in the fight against graft, it was unfortunate that the Executive and Judiciary had not been aggressive enough in fighting the vice.

"There are many corruption scandals that parliamentarians have exposed and demanded tough action, but the Executive and Judiciary have so far done nothing in this regard," he said.

He added: " It must be understood that the Government's will and commitment to tame corruption is key to stamping out the malpractice if we are really intent on moving forward."

Mr Mohammed, who is a CUF parliamentarian, also questioned the sincerity of the ruling CCM in the campaign against corruption.

He was said attempts by the ruling party to rein in outspoken CCM parliamentarians raised "a lot of questions".

Mr Moses Kulaba, the executive secretary of Agenda 2000, a non-governmental organisation committed to promoting democracy and good governance, accused the Government of assuming the role of a spectator as Parliament and the media spearheaded the fight against corruption.

He said the PCCB was not efficient in investigating and corruption scandals and prosecuting the masterminds, and could therefore not escape blame for Tanzania's "poor" record in fighting graft.

Mr Kulaba said mega-corruption scandals such as the Richmond, EPA, Alex Stewart and radar scams were all revealed by either the media or parliamentarians.

He wondered how corruption scandals of such a magnitude could not be detected by the PCCB, and instead left to the media and MPs to unearth.

Mr Kulaba said many corruption suspects were being acquitted because of the PCCB's "shoddy investigations" and its failure to effectively prosecute those charged with corruption.

The chairman of the opposition NCCR-Mageuzi, Mr James Mbatia, said putting the PCCB under the Office of the President was a "grave mistake", adding that this made it impossible for the agency to operate independently.

"The law that established the PCCB is flawed. Putting the anti-corruption watchdog under the Office of the President gives the Government the leeway to interfere in its affairs when it feels its interests are threatened," he said.

Mr Mbatia said Tanzania would continue to lose credibility on the international stage if the Government would not address the shortcomings.

PCCB public relations officer Doreen Kapwani said she had not seen the TI report, but added that reports that Tanzania had fared better than other East African countries were "encouraging".

According to the TI findings, Tanzania posted its first worst performance in recent years in the annual ranking of the 180 countries surveyed worldwide.

However, with the exception of Rwanda, Tanzania did better in the region, ranking higher than Kenya (146) and Uganda (130) in the global index. Kenya improved by one position, while Uganda dropped four places.

Rwanda, which was ranked the same with Tanzania in 2008, is now considered the least corrupt country in the East Africa, coming in at an impressive 89th place.

The country led by reformist President Paul Kagame, who has won world accolades for wide-ranging steps to improve governance, went up by 14 positions to break into the top 100, with a CPI score of 3.7 points. Burundi, the worst performer in the region, was ranked 168th.

Tanzania's best ranking was 94, in 2007, when Parliament finally passed a law, establishing the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB). In 2006, the country was ranked 101.

With this year's decline, the average CPI score and confidence rating of the country's anti-corruption efforts dropped from 3.2 points in 2007 to 2.6 points this year, out of a maximum of 10 points, in what points to a setback in efforts to fight graft in high places.

Namibia: Country 'Highly Corrupt'

By Jo-MarÉ Duddy

NAMIBIA is still regarded as a highly corrupt country worldwide, the latest report of Transparency International (TI) shows.

Like last year and in 2007, Namibia again scored 4,5 points on TI's Corruption Perception Index (CPI) this year.

Any country getting less than five points is perceived as "highly corrupt" by the global watchdog for domestic and public sector graft.

The recent trend is a far cry from the period of 1998 to 2002, when Namibia was continuously ranked amongst the top 30 least corrupt countries in the world.

This year Namibia also has the dubious honour of being amongst the top six countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

However, only three of these countries achieved a score of five points and higher: Botswana (5,6), Mauritius (5,4) and Cape Verde (5,1).

The rest, starting with the Seychelles (4,8) and ending with Somalia (1,1), are all perceived as highly corrupt.

Although Namibia's 2009 score is an improvement on its all-time low of 4,1 points from 2004 to 2006, it is a drastic drop from its record-high of 5,7 points in 2002.

Top achievers in this year's CPI are New Zealand, with 9,4 points out of a possible ten, followed by Denmark (9,3), Singapore and Sweden (both with 9,2).

The bottom three places go to Somalia, Afghanistan (1,3) and Myanmar (1,4).

Releasing the 2009 CPI in Berlin yesterday, TI said as the world economy begins to register a tentative recovery and some nations continue to wrestle with ongoing conflict and insecurity, it was clear that no region of the world is immune to the perils of corruption.

"At a time when massive stimulus packages, fast-track disbursements of public funds and attempts to secure peace are being implemented around the world, it is essential to identify where corruption blocks good governance and accountability, in order to break its corrosive cycle," TI Chair Huguette Labelle said at the launch.

TI said the overall results in the 2009 index "are of great concern because corruption continues to lurk where opacity rules, where institutions still need strengthening and where governments have not implemented anti-corruption legal frameworks".

"Corrupt money must not find safe haven. It is time to put an end to excuses," said Labelle.

Bribery, cartels and other corrupt practices undermine competition and contribute to massive loss of resources for development in all countries, especially the poorest ones, the watchdog warned. According to a recent TI report, more than 283 private international cartels were exposed between 1990 and 2005, which cost consumers around the world an estimated US$300 billion in overcharges,

"Stemming corruption requires strong oversight by parliaments, a well-performing judiciary, independent and properly resourced audit and anti-corruption agencies, vigorous law enforcement, transparency in public budgets, revenue and aid flows, as well as space for independent media and a vibrant civil society," said Labelle.

Uganda: 'Corruption Worse in Country'

Tabu Butagira

Courts have trouble convicting corrupt bureaucrats because colleagues help destroy incriminating evidence in a "scratch my back, I will scratch yours" syndicate, a minister has said.

Ethics Minister James Buturo's remarks, likely to infuriate government officials, came hours after Transparency International said in a new report released yesterday that graft is getting worse here.

The 2009 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), a measure of citizens' opinion of public sector corruption, shows Uganda slipping from position 126 last year to 130 out of 180 countries surveyed worldwide.

"This is a powerful reminder to Ugandans that we have a common enemy - corruption...government, civil society organisations and citizens are not pulling their weight together to end the vice," Dr Buturo said.

Dishonest public servants, the minister said, are not caught partly because detectives investigating them scupper state efforts by falling for the allure of bribe-taking.

Anti-corruption activists welcomed the findings that place the neighbouring Rwanda, at ranking 89, as the least corrupt of the five East African countries fast-tracking both an economic union and political federation.

The progress of Rwanda, tied with Tanzania in position 102 last year, to present position 89 - while Tanzania backslid to number 126 - could offer a lesson to other EAC partner states on how to get it right on corruption fight.

The region's economic giant, Kenya, moved marginally from position 147 to 146 while Denmark, New Zealand and Sweden took the top slots.

Mr Raphael Baku, the Inspector General of Government, said the 2009 CPI "may or may not" be factual since the surveys capture only what "people think". "It could be that there is a lot of talking and writing about corruption in Uganda," he said, "When you beat the drum loud, everyone hears."

On a scale of 0-10, a lower digit reflecting higher corruption prevalence, TI reported that the vast majority of the 180 countries fell below the mid-mark.

The report speaks of entrenched wrongs: foreign investors offering bribes to fix business deals in developing countries and public employees falsifying accountability, undermining economic recovery from last year's financial meltdown.

The national coordinator of Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda, Mr Jasper Tumuhimbise, agreed with the report authors that those countries with fractured institutions such as Parliament and the Judiciary lose more public resources through official complicity.

Mr Tumuhimbise said: "We lost the anti-corruption fight when our leaders put in place institutions and laws without the accompanying political will."

Burundi is at number 168, a dozen places from the worst-rated country - Somalia.

Nigeria: Corruption Rating - FG Blames Private Sector

Daniel Idonor

Abuja — STILL recovering from the shock of Nigeria's downward spiral in the ranking of Transparency International, TI, the Federal Government yesterday blamed the low rating on the Organised Private Sector, OPS.

The government maintained that while the menace of corruption is fast fading out in the public sector, the virus is eating deep into the fabric of the OPS.

The blame apportioning notwithstanding, government has expressed discomfort over the retrogression.

Nigeria had dropped in the latest ranking of Transparency International, released Tuesday, from 121st position in 2008 to 130, this year.

Minister of Information, Dora Akunyili, while reacting in Abuja yesterday, said it is a sad development.

Akunyili stated that it is discomforting to list the nation among the world's most corrupt countries despite government's efforts to sanitise different sectors of the economy.

The Minister who noted that the Federal Government does not dispute the ranking however revealed that the government is ignorant of the perimeters used in the assessment.

According to her, the government is set to make amends in all areas that had led to the sudden slump.

Also, the government stated that contrary to opinion being expressed in some quarters that there are sacred cows in the fight against corruption, especially corruption cases involving some former governors, nobody would be spared, no matter how close the person may be to the President.

According to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, "nobody is going to be spared. The Ibori's case trials have commenced both here and in London and now his fate is in the courts. If you commit an offence that is corruption-related, we charge you to court. Once the banking sector corruption cases are over, we will look at other sectors that are capable of undermining the Nigerian drive to move out of the list of most corrupt nations".

He however explained "there is no way I can shut my door against anybody. If an armed robber today is charged to court, and he complains that his trial is unfair, would I say he cannot come to my office to lodge his complaint? He would lodge his complaint, I will go through his complaint, if the complaint lacks merit, I will dismiss it. The most important thing is that no Nigerian judge has ever accused me of interference.

The judiciary is doing their job and we abide by them.

Citing the recent Central Bank audit of banks, Aondoakaa stated that Nigeria's rating would have improved greatly if measures taken to curb the evil in the public sector were replicated in the private sector.

"The corruption is in the banking sector. I have already been given a clear report of the problems in the private sector. And mind you, Nigeria has never had it so good. The first year we came in we brought it down to 147. We took it to 121 and then this corruption that manifested in private sector, the NDIC has confirmed that it happened from January, 2009", he said.

He disclosed that before now, it was "only under the present regime that the country has recorded this great fit. The closest was when Nigeria was on number three in the bottom of the table. So we brought it down in the first year to 147, we moved it down to 121 and now we have a crisis in the banking sector which the people correctly recorded that there is crisis in the banking sector. People looted money in the banking sector which is a public knowledge. I gave a report and I think the rating must be based on the report I gave.

"Certainly that influenced the rating, which also Transparency International captured in their report. We were at Dubai and Nigeria was heavily praised for the reforms that we have carried out. The anti-corruption body did not complain about Nigeria, rather at the conclusion of the seminar in Dubai, we were co-opted to act in the drafting of the reform of peer review", he said.

According to him "with what happened in the banking sector, you must commend the EFCC and the governor of the central bank for taking the bull by the horn. First, from the recovery we made, that shows clearly that people were really stealing money because we couldn't have made such a quick recovery of over N170 billion in two months. That means that people were stealing this money and hiding it.

We are also targeting the assets of these people. We will get them both here and outside the country where they have gone. We will recover the money. The people will find this very unattractive".

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