The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), stakeholders and Nigerians have scored President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration low on the fight against corruption.
SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare made known his rating of Nigeria’s anti-corruption known during a special radio town hall meeting against corruption, organized by Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG, with the support of MacArthur Foundation Friday in Abuja.
Oluwadare who stated that the opacity in the governance of the country was slowing down progress in the fight against corruption, also identified that lack of political will from the highest level of leadership was interfering and hindering anti-graft agencies from delivering on their mandate.
He, also noted that court processes in corruption cases were too slow and have affected judgments of cases. He added that the government office’s response level to Freedom of Information requests does not show sincerity and readiness to fight corruption.
Oluwadare stressed that the constitutional powers of the president to hire and fire heads of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at will hinders the commission from doing their job effectively and called for the legal framework of the anti-corruption agencies to be strengthened against political interference.
In his contribution, Coordinator, Outgrow Hunger Nigeria Campaign, Tom Odemwingie said Nigerians are losing confidence on Federal Government’s fight against corruption, adding that insincerity in the fight against corruption was massively affecting foreign direct investments into the country.
Odemwingie decried the neglect of corruption stories by the government amid the dangers journalists go through in unearthing corruption. To advance the anti-corruption fight he encouraged the government to submit to enact a law to protect whistleblowers and the investigative journalist who are putting their lives on the line in investigating corruption
The President of Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Igho Akeregha decried that political leaders in Nigeria were using their positions to confer undue advantage on themselves and cronies to the detriment of the country at large, noting that corruption has gotten worse under President Buhari’s watch.
He asserted that corruption is highest in public offices and that the president’s constitutional powers to appoint heads of anti-graft agencies will always compromise their independence.
Akeregha, however, advised citizens to reject inducement of all sort by politicians to vote them into the office and ensure people of integrity are installed as leaders.
“In electoral participatory democracy citizens will now go and get their own voters card and ensure that even after voting they should be prepared to resist any outcome of manipulation in the electoral process such that the best people will be in power
“Political parties and the internal party politics must ensure that someone of integrity emerges as their own candidate,” he opined.
Similarly, the Communication and Advocacy Director, Make A Difference Initiative, Lemmy Ughegbe also rated the war against corruption very low.
According to Ughegbe, the current administration has plunged Nigeria’s fight against corruption six decades backward through the breaching of the constitution and other forms of abuse of power.
He said the new EFCC boss, Abdulrasheed Bawa can only be different from his predecessors by being above board, upholding the constitution, and serving Nigeria more than the president who employed him.
His words: “Bawa should try to be above board, try to rise beyond all of the intricacies of the big power play that will definitely try to influence him and uphold the constitution if he understands that his loyalty is to the people and to the constitution of the Federal Republic.
“His loyalty is not to the president. Because the problems with public office holders and appointees of government is that they think that the president is the one paying their salary their loyalty is to the president.
“Once he realizes and knows that his loyalty is to the constitution, then he will follow the constitution to the latter and the oath of office in dispensing with his responsibility.”
Nigerians who called in during the program all scored the current administration low on the fight against corruption.
The PRIMORG’s Radio Town Hall Meeting Against Corruption series is aimed at calling the public and government attention to specific issues of corruption in Nigeria.