The discussion on how to sustain the ongoing war against corruption should continue to top agenda of public debate towards the forthcoming elections because corruption remains a central problem in Nigeria.
Mr. Waziri Adio, Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), made this assertion while addressing participants at an event, recently organized to mark the International Anti-Corruption Day.
His words: “Politicians will not supply what is not demanded, organized civic groups and those that have platforms and voices should begin discussions about why corruption should be a central issue in the forthcoming elections”.
The Executive Secretary explained that the 2019 elections offer special opportunity not just to choose new set of political leadership but also to decide the future and the direction the country will follow.
“Corruption is implicated in all the various problems in Nigeria, whether in terms of lack of economic development, infrastructural deficit, insecurity, massive un-employment, and inadequate provision of social amenities”, he stated.
He further explained that corruption imposes a lot of cost on business, quoting United Nation Office on Drug and Crimes report that put cost of corruption on business at $1 trillion annually. “This implies that business cannot be profitable nor create jobs as they should be”, he noted.
Mr. Adio cautioned that given momentum already built against corruption, Nigerians should not allow the issue to slip-off the agenda. He also called for commitments from politicians on how they intend to combat corruption.
Speaking at the event, Chairman of the NEITI Board, Dr. Mahmoud Isa-Dutse who also chaired the IATT said it is important to sustain the already garnered momentum against corruption as Nigerians proceed to the polls in 2019.
Dr. Isa-Dutse represented by a member of the Board, Dr. Bernard Verr, explained that the Federal Government was aware that Nigeria has huge corruption problems that are historical, adding that the government was not relenting in its efforts to deal with the issue.
“We continue to see quickening of efforts in enforcement and sanctions as well as innovative methods to prevent corruption. We are routinely assessing risks and vulnerabilities to corruption and reviewing our systems to tackle the anomaly from the roots”, he further stated.
He informed participants that several initiatives such as Freedom of Information, Open Government Partnership, Beneficial Ownership Disclosure, Open Contracting, and global EITI being implemented by Nigerian government are beginning to yield positive results.
“Our range of legislations and institutions show that we have significantly domesticated the provisions of global instruments in the area of prevention and criminalization as well as recovery of proceeds of corruption”, he stated.
While noting that the essence of government is to ensure and guarantee development and well-being of citizens, he challenged Nigerians to demand transparent and credible electoral processes and place emphasis on tackling corruption from the roots.
Also speaking, Ms. Lilian Ekeanyanwu, Head, Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-Corruption and Reforms (TUGAR), the secretariat of the Inter-Agencies Task Team (IATT), stressed the urgent need to clean up Nigeria’s electoral processes to enable the citizenry have their choices reflected, and ultimately hold their leaders accountable.
Government officials, civil society, media and development partners attended the event, organized by TUGAR under the platform of Inter-Agencies Task Team (AITT).