Nigeria’s former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, on Saturday, said that the fight against corruption is a collective responsibility of all Nigerians for a virile and stable nation.
He said this while delivering the 2017 Convention Lecture of the Victory Life Bible Church, Abeokuta, titled “The role of the church in the fight against corruption”, that the Church has a vital role to play in combating the menace which according to him had eaten deep into all sectors in the country.
Obasanjo who was represented by the Pastor In Charge of Christ The King Glorious Church, Dr Femi Olajide, described the Church as an influential institution that must continue to promote good ethical standard.
The former president noted that corruption is still thriving despite effort by his administration to reduce it to the nearest minimum with the establishment of two anti-graft agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent and Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences (ICPC).
Obasanjo added that successive governments had tried to contain the menace through enactment of laws and enforcement of integrity systems with a slow pace of success.
He bemoaned the role of some religious leaders in the promotion of corrupt practices by accepting questionable “gifts” in form of appreciation, from people who are believed to be amassing public wealth at the detriment of the masses.
“It must be stated that ‘political corruption’ is a persistent phenomenon in Nigeria and there is politics everywhere including the Church, especially if politics is seen as concerned with power, status, influence within an organisation rather than with matters of principle.
“The government has tried to contain corruption through the enactment of laws and the enforcement of integrity systems, but success has been slow in coming. Legislations alone are not enough as they are often breached by those who make them and those who should implement them. In 2012, Nigeria was estimated to have lost over $400 billion to corruption since independence.
“Corruption is very pervasive and at times not too glaring to the public. It is a systemic problem in our society and thus should be addressed systematically from the root, stem and branches. To curb it, children, youth and adults must be given the power to distinguish between the rights and the wrongs. Schools should return to the teaching of moral education to empower children with the spirit of stewardship and scholarship, while adults live exemplary lives, reflecting truth, kindness, healthy competition, dignity in labour and integrity. It must be all hands on deck within the society.”
He emphasized that the war against corruption must start from the Church by ridding itself of the menace.
“The fight against corruption in Nigeria is the fight for the soul and survival of Nigeria. Like cancer, corruption is gradually killing the country. Now is the time for all of us, as individuals and institutions, to be active participant in the fight. The Church is an important and influential institution in our society. Our main problems are moral, ethical and attitudinal failure and disorientation. The Church is an institution that provides the moral and ethical standards for us as believers.
“There is no doubt that all our institutions have been tarnished by the brush of corruption. If the Church, as an institution, does not take bribe or get involved in other corrupt practice, the behaviour of some of our men of God leaves much to be desired. They not only celebrate but venerate those whose sources of wealth are questionable. They accept gifts (offering) from just anybody without asking questions.
“The Church needs to clear its Aegean stable. The temple of God must be cleanest to restore the holiness of the church. Our present-day ‘money changers’ and ‘merchants’ must be chased out of the Church and put to shame in the larger society,” he added.
The Pastor of VLBC, Apostle Lawrence Achudume, canvasesd for the re-introduction of the study of history as a subject in the school curriculum, while corroborating the guest lecturer on the need for spiritual leaders to play pivotal role in the fight against corruption.