ActionAid takes anti-corruption crusade to S/East, tasks stakeholders

The ActionAid Nigeria has intensified efforts in strengthening the citizens’ resistance campaign against the prevalence of corruption in the country.

The humanitarian organisation in this regard, on Monday, in Enugu, the former capital city of Eastern region of Nigeria, organised a two-day stakeholders’ dialogue on corruption, with people from various segments of the society, government and agencies, religion and traditional leaders including the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission(ICPC), the National Orientation Agency(NOA) from the region, as participants.

A similar forum had been organised for people in the southwest and northwest regions early this year.

The lead speaker at Enugu forum, Mr Nwabueze Ugwu, said though, corruption practices are almost by everyone in the country,  that by the people in the corridors of political power from the federal to local government levels, are overwhelming.

According to him, the magnitude of corruption which is a breach of trust and fraudulent practices in government circle from executive to legislative and judiciary arms in Nigeria cannot be quantified.

“And that is why citizens engagement in the fight against corruption by making government officials across tiers accountable and responsible for their public roles is absolutely necessary to tackle the menace,” he said.

Mr Nwabueze, who is a former member of Enugu State House of Assembly, pointed out that all indications from the successive government at all levels have shown that political office holders are not sincere but hypocritical in the fight against corruption in the country.

He said the main reason for their insincerity is that they and their supporters and relatives are greatly benefiting from corruption proceeds and want the status quo remained.

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The speaker,  who is a lawyer,  however, urged all participants to stand up as citizens and jointly fight the menace so as to make Nigeria a better country.

Earlier in her welcome address, the country director, ActionAid Nigeria, Mrs Ene Obi, said the consequences of corruption on Nigeria and its people are not only severe but killing.

According to her, corruption weakens the efficiency, effectiveness and probity of the public sector and its effects though on all but more on poor people.

She pointed out that corruption seems to have caused more death than HIV/AIDs and malaria in the country, stealing the future of Nigeria’s children both born and expected,  ruined the educational system; destroyed healthcare facilities; increased the inequality gap and the level of insecurity and conflicts; pushed back foreign investment opportunities and weakened the capacity of successive governments to provide basic amenities of life to the citizens.

Speaking further, Mrs Obi said corruption had also distorted competition and trade in the country, reduced investments and slowed development, widened economic and social inequalities,  heightened injustice, discontent, exclusion and polarisation.

“And if we say corruption is a global phenomenon, it has almost become synonymous with Nigeria as it has shrunk (and still shrinking) capitals for poverty reduction and development and robbed poor people of development opportunities.

“So we would need to enhance the effective participation of the individuals that occupy the office of the citizen (that is you and I) in the fight against this scourge called corruption that has eaten deep into the fabric of our nation and that is the essence of this meeting.

“But you may want to ask why is it important to empower the Nigerian citizens to effectively fight corruption or may be wondering why the burden of eradicating corruption is not mounted on the government and the public officials and so forth.

“The simple answer to all these questions is in the social cost of corruption and how it has fuelled unemployment and poverty,  undermine some of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) projects, especially on poverty and hunger.

“Though, governments over the years have made efforts to curb corruption, their efforts are insufficient to tackle the problem.

“That is why all of us the stakeholders must acknowledge the fact that corruption is our common enemy and then begin to decentralise and localise issues about corruption and ask the right questions and demand for social infrastructures from our political leaders if they failed in performing their roles. We all deserve to live a quality life,” she submitted.

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