A Coalition of civil society and media organizations involved in exposing corruption in Nigeria has called on President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to be courageous and sincere in the fight against corruption.
The call was made during a special radio town hall meeting on Thursday in Abuja to commemorate the 2021 International Anti-Corruption Day, organized by five Civil Society Organizations.
Led by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development (PRIMORG), the other CSOs include the African Center for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL); the International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR); the Wole Soyinka Center for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ), and Akin Fadeyi Foundation (AFF).
One of Nigeria’s major anti-corruption organs, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) said during the program that it recovered N82.5 million and assets in the last year.
ICPC was represented by the Director, Public Enlightenment and Education at ICPC, Mohammed Ashiru Baba.
Underscoring the importance of the international anti-corruption day, Baba stated that marking such an important day provides an opportunity for the global onslaught against corruption.
Reeling out ICPC’s achievement in the last year, he revealed that the anti-corruption agency performed remarkably well in their mandate by noting that their Anti-Corruption and Transparency Unit (ACTU) domiciled in Federal Government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) is deterring public servants from corrupt acts.
“Between January and December last year, we recovered N82.5 billion worth of assets and also restrained N147 billion overhead cost from MDAs as well as the capital cost that would have been pocketed by MDAs, we recovered that one as well.
“In our constituency and executive project tracking initiative, we have tracked 546 projects across Nigeria executed by the legislators, initiated by the legislators, and of course supposed to be executed by the executives but they were either not handled well, shabbily done, or not even implemented at all and additional 269 executive projects,” Baba stated.
According to Baba, “the fight against corruption as far as ICPC is concerned is comprehensive, top-bottom, bottom-up. We have a lot of forums targeted at people high up there, we call on Nigerians to be patient and contribute their quota in the fight against corruption by at least reporting corruption.”
In his remark, Senior Program Officer at Wole Soyinka Center for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ), Adeolu Adekola said the government needs to ensure systems in place to fight corruption are turned into institutions.
Adekola, who identified lack of political will as a hindrance to fighting corruption, called on the government to build a culture of speaking truth to power while decrying that investigative journalists in Nigeria are still facing backlash and adverse challenges for doing their job.
Similarly, Senior Program Officer at African Center for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), Godwin Onyeacholem urged President Buhari to demonstrate the courage to expose corruption, noting that the current administration doesn’t seem to have the political will to fight corruption.
Onyeacholem, while lamenting that corruption has permeated every facet of the public sector, stressed that Nigeria needs to urgently do something about corruption or risk losing more of its scarce resources.
“If we don’t do something about corruption in the next 10 years, according to the 2015 Price Water Cooper (PWC) report, 30% of our GDP will be lost to corruption,” he said.
Here is what the other CSOs had to say about the state of the anti-corruption fight in Nigeria.
The National President, Foundation for Correction of Moral Decadence (FCMD), Dr Joseph Obiechie called on President Buhari to sit up and be more serious in tackling corruption. While insisting that Nigeria needs a sincere leader to fight corruption, he urged Buhari to synergize with state governors to re-orientate the minds of Nigerians.
Journalist and a representative of the International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), Olugbenga Adanikin diffused allegations of imbalanced journalism, stressing that the ICIR focused on exposing corruption, criminal acts and ills in the society through investigative journalism in the last ten years. He urged serious prosecution and jailing of public servants that stole public funds.
While a representative of Akin Fadeyi Foundation (AFF), Ose Enaholo revealed that the Foundation had before now developed an App to encourage citizens to report corruption.
“The App (FlagIT) seeks to empower citizens to resist corruption in the public domain by providing a platform where non-corrupt experiences can be escalated and encouraged. On this platform, verified reports can also be made against corrupt practices and officials.” Enaholo said.
Communication & Media Officer, CLEEN Foundation, Anna White charged the government to show citizens example by holding themselves accountable, noting that Nigerians are mostly disconnected with the government’s anti-corruption initiatives due to trust deficit.
During the program, many citizens who called in via the phone expressed their desire to see corruption tackled more vigorously by the government.
All the CSOs involved in organizing the special Radio Town Hall Meeting have been involved in different activities to fight corruption in Nigeria with support from the MacArthur Foundation.