By Chimezie Godfrey
#TrackNigeria: The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Transparency International (TI) have expressed concern that corruption remained pervasive as well as responsible for the insecurity and socio- economic problems of Nigeria.
Auwal Ibrahim Musa, who doubles as the Executive Director of CISLAC and Chairman (TI) Nigeria, made the assertion Friday in Abuja during a press conference tagged, “Setting the Anti-Corruption Agenda for the Incoming Administration.”
Musa said that there was urgent need for the incoming administration to set agenda for anti-corruption fight, adding one cannot say he is fighting fighting corruption without agenda setting.
“The last four editions of the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) are a testament to slow or stagnant progress in the fight against corruption in the last four years with Nigeria scoring 27 out of 100 points in the 2018 CPI.
“The score means that the there was no change in the perception of the state of corruption in the country, Nigeria has not improved in the international comparison in regard to perception of corruption,” he said.
He advised that the incoming administration in its anti-corruption fight must focus on areas such as, Freedom of Information, Whistle-blowing Regime, Public procurement, Judiciary, Beneficial Ownership, Land, Education and Security.
Musa encouraged the government to ensure total compliance with provisions of FOI Act to minimize corruption and secrecy that impair good governance, transparency, and accountability.
On the whistle-blower regime, he said that the absence of enabling legislation that could back whistle-blowing and protect whistle-blowers restricts sincere effort at exposing corruption.
He added that passage of appropriate legislation like whistle-blower Protection Bill, is a tool for sustenance of fight against corruption.
Musa pointed out that public procurement was one of the government activities most vulnerable to corruption.
“Identified types of corruption in the procurement processes include embezzlement, bribery of public officials involved in the award process, fraud in bid evaluations, invoices and contract obligations.
“The chapter advocates prompt inauguration of the National Procurement council for effective coordination and oversight public procurement activities,” he said.
On the issues of corruption in the Judiciary, the CISLAC Executive Director said endemic corruption in the judiciary system had resulted in loss of public confidence and hopelessness in the system.
“Consequently, the chapter has been advocating for strict adherence to the rule of law by the judicial arm of government to avoid all forms prejudicial activities, among other things,” he said.
He equally said that the Nigerian education sector has hitherto continued to suffer from continuous scourge of severe corruption and incompetence.
According him, “Corruption in the public education system symbolizes unchecked mismanagement of funds meant for educational projects, resulting in ill-equipped laboratory, library, and class room.
“And also, politicization of the education system by corrupt politicians who are elected on university boards, making learning environment unconducive, and unproductive.”
Speaking further, he said that land corruption has prevailed in West Africa because citizens have limited access to information.
He added that the laws and procedures regulating land ownership are complex and there is insufficient success to justice, while lack in capacity of local land offices and traditional institutions has hindered good governance practice.
The Human Right Activist also spoke about corruption in the security sector and stressed that there is need for government to effect security sector reform.
“CISLAC regrets the rejection of the police Reform Bill by the House of Representative on Wednesday.
“CISLAC and other civil society group have been consistent in proposing immediate solutions, the government should ban security vote, which accounts in total for around 241.2 billion naira annually, a sum that exceeds 70 percent of the annual budget of the Nigerian Police Force.
“Make defence budget more accessible for public scrutiny, appoint civilian oversight in charge of military procurement and encourage the culture of reporting corruption within the ranks and files of Nigerian Armed forces,” he said.
Speaking on the need for reform in the oil and gas sector, he pointed out that frivolous and fraudulent tax waivers to multinational and Nigerian companies, communication and construction, need to be stopped.