Friday, 26 February 2016

COMMUNIQUÉ ISSUED AT A TWO DAY TOWNHALL MEETING TO DISCUSS ANTI-CORRUPTION STRATEGIES IN NIGERIA



CLEEN Foundation organized a two-day town hall meeting on Anti-Corruption Strategies in Nigeria in Abuja. The town hall meeting had paper presentations on the role of citizens in the fight against corruption, evaluation of institutional efforts in combating corruption and strategic approaches to fighting corruption in Nigeria. The programme was chaired by the Chairman, Board of Directors of CLEEN Foundation, Professor Etannibi Alemika of the University of Jos. The keynote address was delivered by Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, the Executive Secretary of the Presidential Advisory Council on Anti-Corruption (PACC). Other presenters and discussants at the event included Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), Ms Lilian Ekeanyanwu (Head, Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-Corruption Reforms), Dr Hussain Abdu (Country Director of PLAN International), Mr Bankole Toba, CEO Inspire Incubator. The media, CSOs and representatives of various government agencies were present at the meeting.

Key observations
Ø  The Town-hall acknowledged the deep passion and commitment of the Buhari administration to fight corruption in Nigeria.
Ø  It acknowledged the renewed efforts and vigor of the anti-graft agencies in fighting corruption towards eliminating its adverse effects on the country.
Ø  It also noted with deep concern the battered image of Nigeria as a corrupt nation as it affects citizens in the diaspora and those within the country.



Key Issues
Ø  The country is deeply entrenched in corruption with the details being exposed to citizens. Corruption has affected effective service delivery including education, health, roads, electricity etc. This has further reduced the condition and quality of life of Nigerians.
Ø  Corruption accounts for poor policy choices and outcomes and reduces productivity
Ø  Corruption in Nigeria has fuelled poverty and diminished economic growth. According to the Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the poverty rate in Nigeria increased from 54.4% in 2007 to 69.1% in 2010.
Ø  This high rate of corruption is affecting every facet of the economy including the alarming decline in the exchange rate of the naira
Ø  Consequent on the falling oil prices, the effect is now more pronounced as Nigeria is solely dependent on crude oil.
Ø  Government at all levels is finding it difficult to fulfill statutory duties, payment of salaries, security and provision of basic infrastructures.
Ø  For more than one decade, successive governments have created more anti-graft agencies without enough impact in reducing corruption in Nigeria. Rather, corruption has increased in magnitude and numbers and in some quarters, it has reached the level of impunity.
Ø  This corruption is evidenced in the 2.1 billion dollars arms scam and the inability of the country to respond to challenges posed by the war against insurgency in the Northeast and other troubled parts of the country.

These issues and many others can be linked to the following causes:
Ø  Decline in family values
Ø  Lack of national patriotism
Ø  Lack of reward for hard work and excellence
Ø  Decay in the public service
Ø  Lack of protection for whistle blowers
Ø  Inaction by the government even where incidences of corruption are flagged
Ø  Absence of due diligence in investigation coupled with poor and prolonged prosecution of alleged culprits
Ø   Complicity of local and foreign banks
Ø  Complicity of some foreign governments who exhibit double standards in making their countries safe haven for looted funds from Nigeria.
In view of the issues identified above and the ongoing efforts by the present administration to rid the country of corruption, the 2-day Town-hall meeting proposes the following:
Ø  That President Mohammadu Buhari’s administration should intensify its efforts in the fight against corruption in order to place Nigeria on a true and sustainable path to development.
Ø  All indicted citizens no matter how highly placed should be duly prosecuted and when found guilty should serve the appropriate punishment.
Ø  Corruption should be fought in an inclusive manner while the government should inform the citizens through various reporting channels.
Ø  Citizens must demand good governance and accountability from the government.
Ø  Citizens should not rationalize the fight against corruption along ethnic, religious and party lines but rather to claim the space to fight corruption in Nigeria.
Ø  The Judiciary should expand its capacity to effectively handle the increasing number of corruption cases brought to the courts
Ø  All cases of corruption must be prosecuted in line with the rule of law and constitutional provisions accorded to accused persons.
Ø  All existing security and anti-graft institutions must be strengthened to enable them deliver on their mandates.
Ø  The fight against corruption should not be left alone to the government. All professional bodies such as the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM), Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) and others should join the government in the fight against corruption by making sure that erring members are appropriately sanctioned.
Ø  The media is an important ally in the fight against corruption. As the watchdog of the society, it must report factual information and not play to the gallery in reporting corruption in the country through sensational headlines.
Ø  Civil Society Organizations should continue to synergize and speak with one voice in the fight against corruption. As the voice of the people, they should embark on programmes that would enhance citizens’ demand for accountability and transparency in governance. 
Ø  The government should deploy Information, Communication and Technology (ICT tools) in the fight against cases of corruption through tracking, reporting and investigation of corruption. CSOs and Nigerians should make effective use of social media in educating and informing citizens on trending issues on corruption.
Ø  The religious and traditional institutions must speak out against corruption and play the expected role of reorientation and strengthening of family values.
Ø  The schools should intensify all efforts in inculcating moral and civic education in children. This will ensure they grow up as incorruptible, patriotic and responsible citizens.
Ø  The international community should cooperate with the Nigerian government in the fight against corruption through thorough investigation of international cases of corruption and ensure the return of looted funds back to Nigeria.





Done in Abuja this 16th Day of February 2016.


Signed,

Benson Olugbuo

Acting Executive Director

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