Why Tinubu should strengthen the fight against corruption
By: Femi Mustapha
Corruption in Nigeria is endemic. That is no news. The menace is affecting infrastructure in every institution with high resource loss. Although most Nigerians have agreed that corruption is endemic, some still participate in small-scale transactional practices that undermine the country.
According to the Executive Director of Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) Rev. David Ugolor, the menace called corruption has remained a major challenge that is hindering the growth and development of Nigeria.
The anti-corruption crusader lamented that the underdevelopment is visible because Nigeria and other African political leaders, multinational corporations, business elites, and civil servants with the complicity of banking and property industries in Europe, North America, and elsewhere steal around $148 billion annually according to United Nations (UN) and the Africa Union (AU).
Rev. Ugolor said the 2022 CPI report ranked Nigeria 150 out of 180 countries, saying even though the latest ranking was four places higher than the 2021 CPI ranking in the country, Nigeria still scored 24 out of 100 points which was not different from the 2021 CPI score falling back one, compared to the 2020 CPI.
According to him the Federal Government of Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration while working with the international community showed commitment and determination to fight corruption.
He added that the regime also expressed a clear road map on how to trace, track, and repatriate looted assets to the countries of origin to finance development.
For progress to be made, Nigerians must abstain from corruption in every form, not just condemn it.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas during a reception organized in his honour by the Nigerian High Commission recently said that unless Nigeria strengthens her rule of law and the fight against corruption, the country would not go anywhere.
Abass opined that the laws of the land must be worked in such a way that both the “big and the small” are treated the same way to give everyone a sense of justice and fairness.
“In Nigeria, some people do whatever they like. You can commit any crime and go scot-free depending on the size of your pocket or the people you know. That has to go.
“Unless we can strengthen our rule of law to do it in such a way that it affects both the big and the small, and it doesn’t look at the face of whoever is committing an offense, we will never go anywhere,” he said.
Speaking on the war against corruption, Speaker Abbas said the country’s anti-corruption drive must also be strengthened for meaningful progress to be recorded.
One of such ways, he said, was to look at the living wage of workers to enhance it to make them “honest and transparent” in their dealings.
He said: “We need to also intensify the war against corruption. No society in this world can ever thrive and be what it wants to be if corruption is the order of the day. But I agree that for you to fight corruption, there are some things you need to do.
“Let’s take the example of the UK experiment or the Western world. Fundamentally, what they did was to sit down and say, let’s look at what an average worker would need to be paid as a salary. Come up with a living wage that will take care of the basics of a person such that he won’t be looking outside his lawful income.
“Today, if you’re a labourer in London, you will be paid enough for you to go and pay your rent, take care of your basics, and still be able to have a fairly good living. With that kind of incentive, you don’t need to go and borrow, you don’t need to go and beg, you don’t need to go and steal.”
He said the current Nigerian situation is such that “an average worker earns less than what somebody can use to buy fuel to fill his car tank. You still want that man to be honest and transparent?
“For us to wage a war on corruption, we need to create an enabling environment where every one of us will be able to operate transparently without having to steal, without having to intimidate, without having to go and beg or to borrow. That is the beginning of the reform.
“If we can get the rule of law working, we will be able to work on the reforms necessary for fighting corruption. In fighting corruption, we also need to create an enabling environment where an average worker should be able to earn enough to live with his family.”
The Chief of Party Palladium Lydia Odeh said Corruption is a pressing challenge, stressing that corruption has hindered progress, perpetuated poverty, and impeded development.
She opined that the national dialogue serves as a critical platform for stakeholders from various sectors to collectively
Shape the agenda for the new administration. Odeh disclosed that the objective is to identify priority areas that will enhance the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
“As we enter a new administration following the recent general elections, it is crucial to maintain the progress achieved in the fight against corruption.
However, Panellist at National Dialogue on Anti-Corruption was organized Under the Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE) project, a USAID-funded project being implemented by Palladium in collaboration with Nigeria Resource Partners (RPs) recently submitted that Nigeria is making progress in the fight against corruption.
The Managing Director of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, Civil society organizations Coalition UNCAC Coalition Mathias Huter, who spoke from Vienna Australia, said Nigeria is part of the global network of over 350 civil society organizations (CSOs) in over 100 countries, committed to promoting the ratification, implementation and monitoring of the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).
This he observed has helped the country to make progress and has benefited from the coalition, especially in the area of Asset recovery saying effective anti-corruption work demands efforts not only from governments but also from CSOs, the private sector, and the greater public.
“The neediest for the participation of civil society and the importance of access to information is explicitly recognized in Article 13 of the UNCAC.
“Without pressure from civil society groups, government anti-corruption commitments may remain mere window dressing. Without coordinated global action by a wide range of civil society groups, the UNCAC may not achieve its promise.”
Giving credence to this Rev. Ugolor Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) World Bank in December 2017, Nigeria, Switzerland, and the World Bank signed an MOU on the return of $321 million in funds stolen by President Abacha and his family to Nigeria (“Abacha II”).
He explained that under the agreement, the World Bank is monitoring the disbursement of the funds which are being used for a direct cash transfer program under the National Social Safety Net Project (NSSNP). As of May 2019, good progress has been reported and the funds are indeed reaching targeted poor households, with $37 million of stolen funds already disbursed to over 300,000 households and a further $50 million in stolen assets requested disbursement.
The Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer, UNODC, Princess Chifiero believed that putting in mechanisms like the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) established in 2000 and subsequently the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2004 have helped in the fight against corruption.
She, however, expressed dismay that despite pockets of progress, the anti-corruption crusade in Nigeria is beset with various obstacles–not least structural challenges that stem from the overlapping functions of various ACAs, which undermines their effectiveness and efficacy. Against this backdrop, this paper examines the overlap between the ICPC and the EFCC in particular.
Lukman Adekunle, a cluster member, is of the view that the assessment report by the cluster has identified both successes and weaknesses in the implementation of these commitments. We must build upon our achievements and address the identified gaps to strengthen our efforts.
Our findings revealed that Nigerians are on the same page that as President Bola Tinubu gradually settles down to business in the Villa, it is expected he should take deliberate steps to unite Nigerians, improve infrastructure across the country, and strengthen the fight against corruption,
President Tinubu Should make coordination extremely difficult. It is important to provide clear administrative protocols that make for more effective and cordial relationships among these institutions.
Experts have stressed that President Tinubu Should know that no matter how good the strategy, synergy, and partnerships throughout the country are vital to his anti-corruption crusade, he must counter the narrative that the anticorruption war is only being waged in the executive branch.
It is observed that former President Buhari has promised to link the public and private sectors in his efforts to ensure information sharing between law enforcement and the financial sector.
President Tinubu needs to do so soon, but first, he must enlist the help of all Nigerians and impress upon them the urgency of the cause. Without their support, a more open and accountable Nigeria will remain a fantasy.