By: Sylvanus M. Blake, Assistant Public Relations Officer
Transparency International on Tuesday 25th January 2022 published its Corruption Perception Index for 2021. Ahead of the release, I was on tenterhooks to know what the performance of my Sierra Leone would be. As was expected, especially from those of us who closely follow the works and gains of ACC and other players in the accountability space, Sierra Leone again recorded significant progress in the Transparency International’s Global Corruption Perception Index (TI-CPI). It was a mystery to some, because they cannot understand the plethora of accomplishments, positive ratings and rankings Sierra Leone and ACC continue to bag, but, majority of Sierra Leoneans saw this coming.
From 2018, Sierra Leone has in three consecutive years continued to record what can best be described as consistent, persistent and archetypal progress in the (TI-CPI). She has distinguished herself as one of the regular performing countries in all major credible global international corruption indices and ratings that assess the prevalence of corruption in countries across the world.
In the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) mandatory Control of Corruption indicator for instance, Sierra Leone’s scored 83% in 2021 from a failing position of 49% in 2017. In the Afro barometer rating for 2020, another highly respected global anti-graft watchdog, it was reported that the prevalence of corruption had reduced from 70% in 2015 to 40% in 2020. This 2021 TI-CPI Report which saw Sierra Leone jump two additional spaces from 117 in 2020 to 115 in 2021 and increase its score to 34 still above the Sub-Saharan average, completes the evolution, that has iced the cake on a hat-trick of historic wins in the three most prominent and respected global anti-graft assessments and rankings. This is not accidental.
Worthy of note is the fact that the TI on its website has described the current decade as one that has noticed stagnation in the overall global fight against corruption with half of the countries surveyed recording no progress including a historic low score of 67 for the United States of America. But despite the seeming global stagnation, Sierra Leone continued to increase its standing in the TI, by jumping 15 places upwards in the CPI in three years with remarkable consistency, from 129 in 2018 to 115 in 2021, ahead of 64 countries, including Bangladesh and 32 countries on the continent of Africa including, Liberia, Cameroon, Mozambique, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria etc.
On his Facebook page, Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission Commissioner, Francis Ben Keifala Esq., was unable to hide his emotions after the release of the TI-CPI. He congratulated the President and People of Sierra Leone for the historic gains and thanked all partners and players in the accountability space. When this young man was privileged to lead the nation’s anti-graft crusade, the stakes were very high, the nation’s performance in all international and local assessments and ratings were abysmally low. As he hit the ground running, his mantra, the “non-textbook” approach to the war against corruption, saw the ACC-Sierra Leone taking unpredictable and unfamiliar stratagems in the fight, especially the launch of the precision-laden rapid response elite ‘Scorpion Squadron”, which ushered in a kind of speed, fury, swiftness and boldness never seen before in Sierra Leone in regard the fight against corruption. Consequently, the results started trickling in.
By the time PLO Lumumba, the former Head of the Kenyan Anti-Corruption Authority was flown in to grace the occasion of the commemoration of the International Anti-Corruption Day, 9th December 2018, the wheels were set in motion for a re-write of our nation’s narrative in the war against corruption. Since then, the disposition of Sierra Leone has remained unyielding, stanch and robust. The reforms and policy directives have been phenomenal. The feats of the ACC and Sierra Leone in the fight against corruption since then have been awesome. Notably, the recovery of over Le:35 Billion from corrupt officials through the non-conviction based assets recovery approach, the recovery of stolen State property-vehicles and a hotel, the over 95% conviction rate on all cases charged to court since 2018, the robust corruption prevention work across Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), and the massive public sensitization. Safe to say that we have not arrived, we have not won the war on corruption. But safest again to say that the present positions and rankings of Sierra Leone are not only distinguished and venerable, they are crucial accomplishments that should be celebrated courteously while we continue to fight the scourge as if we were not making progress. Congratulations to us all.
For the purposes of edifying my readers, what then is the TI Process?
Established in 1995 and based in Berlin Germany, Transparency International (TI) is the global civil society organization that has been leading the fight against corruption for more than 25 years. As the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) has become the leading global indicator of the perceived prevalence of “Public Sector Corruption” across all 180 nations that are part of the TI-CPI survey, the annual index, ranks countries based on public sector corruption through a series of metrics, rating each country from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).
The goal of the CPI is to provide data on extensive perceptions of corruption within countries. The CPI is a composite index, making use of surveys of business people and assessments by country analysts and credible third independent institutions like; the African Development Bank’s Country Policy and Institutional Assessment, World Bank’s Country Policy and Institutional Assessment, World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index Expert Survey, the International Institute for Management Development based Lausanne etc. As at now, TI uses 14 different survey reports done by credible and independent third party institutions and for any country to qualify for the TI-CPI assessment, at least 3 of such survey data out of the 14 must be available. Hence not all nations in the world are part of the TI-CPI.
The process consists of credible sources using diverse sampling frames and different methodologies. These perceptions helps enhance the understanding of real levels of corruption from one country to another. The TI Index Advisory Committee which comprises highly professional and technical persons, formed in 1996 for global corruption measurement advises on the methodologies to be adopted every year for the TI-CPI.
One of the key themes of the 2021 CPI is what TI called the ‘’complacency’’ shown by nations across the world in their anti-corruption efforts. It also claimed that Anti-Corruption crusade had reached a ‘’standstill’’ in every area of the globe. This report reveals an unwelcomed deterioration in the world’s fight against corruption describing democracy as ‘under attack’ explicitly tied to the global rise of authoritarianism and decline of human rights. But in the middle of these, Sierra Leone still recorded gains.