The Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, has called on Nigerians to take advantage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act to demand accountability from their representatives.
Owasanoye made the call on Tuesday in Abakaliki during a town hall meeting with stakeholders in the area.
The chairman, who was represented by the Southeast Zonal Commissioner of the commission, Mr Amedu Sule, said that it had become necessary for the people at the grassroots to hold their leaders accountable.
He said that the spate of corruption in the country had defied all measures by successive administrations to combat the scourge.
“The endemic nature of corruption poses great danger to the economic, social and political stability of any given society.
“The poor showing of Nigeria across all indices of development is due mainly to corruption and the brunt of such is borne mainly by citizens at the local level,” he said.
The ICPC chairman said that if the people at the grassroots practice integrity and demand the same from public officials “then there will be good governance.
“Public officials will perform more efficiently and transparently when the Federal Ministry of Finance releases allocations to local government councils.
“The law on FOI empowers the people to request and obtain such information,” he said.
Owasanoye appealed to the participants to avoid corruption in all their dealings as well as educate others to embrace and practice integrity.
He said: “We urge you to make reports to the commission where necessary and proactively engage your leaders and hold them accountable.
“It is only through such citizens’ involvement that we can aspire to have access to an improved quality of life.”
He said that the current efforts by the commission to track constituency projects across the country would require the support of the people at the grassroots.
“This will not only guarantee integrity but also make sure that the people receive the value for public funds expended to make life easier for our people,” Owasanoye said.
In a lecture, the Head of Public Enlightenment Unit of the commission, Mr Godwin Achile, said that the commission was soliciting the partnership of Nigerians to end the menace.
Achile described the fight against corruption as a collective responsibility of all Nigerians, saying that the commission could not do it alone.
He said that ICPC had initiated some measures, including the Anti-Corruption, Transparency Monitoring Unit, domiciled in Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government.
He said that the National Anti-Corruption Volunteer Corps was another effort aimed at enlisting the support of members of the public in the crusade.
He further said that the commission was open to collaboration with relevant non-governmental organisations with a view to sensitising members of the public on the ills of corruption.
Achile appealed to the participants to report cases of corruption through the ICPC communication channels.
Earlier, the Chairman of Abakaliki Local Government Area, Mr Emmanuel Nwangele, said that the council was in support of the anti-corruption initiatives of the commission.
Nwangele said that the council had demonstrated probity, accountability and prudence in the management of its resources.
“We commend the commission for its thoughtfulness and sensitivity to the burning issue of corruption in the country,” Nwangele said. (NAN)