A NON-governmental organisation, Centre for Media, Policy and Accountability (CMPA) has called on government and other stakeholders to address the high level of corruption in the country through preventive measures.
Speaking on Tuesday, June 6 at a one-day stakeholders’ inception meeting in Abuja, Executive Director of CMPA and Project Manager, Suleiman Suleiman, stressed that, rather than concentrating on investigation of corruption cases, government should address the problem by enacting policies, laws and conventions.
He argued that corruption could be easily addressed through the adoption of proper preventive measures rather than tackling it through investigation.
“It is better to prevent corruption from happening rather than allow it to happen because what happens is that corruption always empowers. For example, if I am working in a government organisation or private sector and I am into corrupt activities, what normally happens is that I will become more powerful because I will get money to mess up the system, the police or anybody.
“So it is easier for anti-corruption agencies to fight by preventing it which can be done through anti-corruption laws, policies, public enlightenment and campaigns.”
The Executive Director of CMPA said the political participation of citizens is a viable way to address corruption in Nigeria, adding that bad governments are elected when citizens refuse to exercise their franchise and participate in political activities.
Suleiman added that the organisation has been collaborating with anti-corruption, agencies, other civil society organisations and the media in the campaign against corruption.
He also stressed the need for civil society and media organisations and other relevant stakeholders to create standardised ways to report corruption and human rights violations in the country.
“A key part of our project is what we called the anti-corruption community in Nigeria; we want to create that sense. It has always been there but we want to sharpen it. Anti-corruption work is done by various stakeholders who want to work together and collaborate with each other. Among these stakeholders are anti-corruption agencies and associate anti-corruption agencies like EFCC, ICPC, Code of Conduct Bureau and some non-governmental organisations.
“But they are not the only one working on corruption, even the civil society also do anti-corruption works as well, they provide research, they do advocacy. They do many things to reduce corruption in the country. People like CDD, PLAC etc they may not be anti-corruption agencies because they lack governmental structure but they are stakeholders because they are also involved in anti-corruption work.”
He added that their expected outputs include understanding Global Anti-Corruption Performance Indicators, developing Anti-Corruption Performance Reporting Skills for ACAs, developing Anti-Corruption Performance Reporting Skills for COs and developing Anti-Corruption Performance Reporting Skills for media.
“Now on the NARPPR project itself, various anti-corruption agencies do all kinds of anti-corruption works sometimes they do the detection of corruption, they receive petitions from the citizens they do research, and they do investigations of course anti-corruption cases. They also do risk analysis, they do system study and risk assessment of where corruption is absolutely taking place in the country.
“They also tried to sanction which involve corruption law enforcement agents like prosecuting those who have cases in court to answer, forfeiting their assets or even doing anti-corruption law to prevent corruption from happening.”
Similarly, the Country Director, McArthur Foundation Nigeria, Kole Shettima said that corruption is a menace which is threatening the existence of lives and living conditions of Nigerians.
Shettima stressed the need for journalists and concerned stakeholders to address the issues relating to corruption and accountability.
“It is about life and death; it is about people living without having access to water or going long distances to get medication; it is about women trying to deliver, it is about children going to school and is being beaten by the rain. It is about food that everyone must have but many of us are dying hungry. It is about ordinary citizens trying to live and struggle as human beings.
“For some of us who are in the position of power and authority have decided to be united by taking over all these processes. This issue about corruption and accountability is a life and death issue in Nigeria.”
Highlighting the negative implications of shoddy projects, he noted that poor execution of projects by contractors could lead to disaster and unplanned hazards.
“It is the fact that the government will allocate resources to build roads, somebody will not build those roads, somebody will leave a shoddy road and then there will be an accident and people will die as a result of that accident.
“It is about the fact that you check your loved ones, a pregnant woman – nine months old takes her to the hospital and the fact that she cannot get basic medication and you see her dying just because the state of medication that has been provided by the government have been pocketed or someone has decided not to come to work or a security guard who is supposed to go and switch on the generator has decided not to do it.
“And in the process when there is no light this woman may die so this whole anti-corruption is not just about the big organisations. It is about life and death. We must see this on the principle that we are trying to improve the quality of life of our own citizens. We are trying to improve the lives of all citizens of our children.”
He as well noted the importance of contractors executing projects according to the specification of the project signed and budgeted.
Lamenting the poor state of education in Nigeria, Shettima bemoaned the recruitment of unqualified teachers, adding that such recruitment exercise basically affects the children of the poor and vulnerable.
“It is relatively disappointing that we have teachers who cannot teach and who cannot be trained training our children but they employ them for the children of the poor.”
Stressing that the fight against corruption required the three arms and three tiers of government to function properly, the Executive Secretary of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Sadiq Radda charged journalists and stakeholders to improve on their accountability and anti-corruption reporting.
Stories with punches holding the powerful accountable. His determination to speak out against corruption and influence the conversation in Nigeria, the surrounding region and the continent inspires him.