Behind Willands Plaza, Wuse Zone 4, Abuja

The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has asked President Goodluck Jonathan to apologize unreservedly to Nigerians for misleading them on the blunder concerning the alleged positive rating given to the country by the global anti-corruption body, Transparency International.

In a statement issued in Lagos today by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, ACN expressed shock and sadness that the President of Africa’s most populous nation and the continent’s second largest economy can make such a frivolous claim on an issue of global concern as corruption.

”Transparency International has denied claims by President Jonathan, in his 52nd independence anniversary speech on Monday, that the global body has rated Nigeria as the second most improved country in the fight against corruption,” the statement said, noting that the ACN’s demand for an apology came after it saw a copy of Transparency International’s response to inquiries on the President’s claim.

“Transparency International does not have a recent rating or report that places Nigeria as the second most improved country in the fight against corruption,” the body said in response to enquiry by Premium Times.

”In the 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index, which measures perceived levels of public sector corruption, Nigeria scored 2.4 on a scale where 0 means highly corrupt and 10 means very clean. It was ranked 143 out of 183 countries.”

ACN said that in addition to apologizing to all Nigerians for the embarrassment, the President must immediately kick-start an investigation into the source of a claim that has exposed his Administration and the entire country to global ridicule.

Furthermore, the President, who was apparently trying to showcase the ‘achievements’ of his administration in the fight against corruption, has now raised doubts about the authenticity of other claims he made in the anniversary speech, the party noted.

It said: ”Among other claims, the President had said that real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 7.1 per cent on average; that his Administration’s Investment Climate Reform Programme has helped to attract over N6.8 trillion local and foreign direct investment commitments, and that Nigeria is ranked first in the top 5 host economies for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inAfrica, accounting for over 20 per cent of total FDI flows into the continent.”

It stated that in view of the fact that the President’s claim of positive rating for Nigeria in the anti-corruption fight has been debunked, it is logical for Nigerians to doubt the truth in the other claims, and indeed in the entire speech.

“This is very sad for the Jonathan Administration, because if the bond of trust between the government and its citizens is broken, the government’s credibility suffers and, without credibility, any government is not worth its name,” ACN said.

The party said if the President fails to act quickly to unearth the source of such a spurious claim and ensure it does not recur, he risks a bigger embarrassment from officials who may want to tweak facts and figures to justify their positions.

”In the end, the responsibility for any inaccuracy in any speech by the President rests squarely on his shoulders,” it said.

It would be recalled that during a worship service at the National Christian Centre in Abuja on Sunday, President Jonathan attracted widespread mockery and laughter when he said that he is almost second to none in combatting corruption.

“Our commitment to the fight against corruption is second to that of America’s commitment,” he told the shocked congregation.  “We are very commitment to it and everybody knows.”

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