Civil Servants’ access to health, education and other social security measures will stem corruption in Nigeria, anti-graft experts have said.
Notable anti-corruption experts said billions of funds are lost yearly to corruption in the informal sector in Nigeria, urging the various anti-graft agencies to beam the searchlight on petty corruption associated with the civil servants and the informal sector.
The Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre), one of the country’s leading anti-corruption groups’ position was part of the recommendation made at the end of the one-day Consultation tagged The Role of CSOs in the Anti-corruption Campaign: Focusing on the NBS – UNODC Second Survey on Corruption was organised based on the report published in December 2019 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the National Bureau of Statistic (NBS).
“Corruption in Nigeria is not peculiar to politically exposed persons. There is a lot of corruption going on in the informal sector. This petty corruption when put together runs into billions of Naira every year. It affects the growth of public services and undermines the stability of street economy putting a heavy burden on its operators” the communique issued at the end of the conference organised by HEDA in collaboration with the United Nations Office of Drug and Crimes, (UNODC) stated. The conference urged the Federal and State Governments to upgrade social and financial security for civil servants to dissuade them from corrupt enticement, adding that civil servants’ access to health services, social security, insurance benefit and comprehensive life saving initiatives towards retirement will cut down the desperation for illicit funds.
The conference recognised an organic link between corruption and electoral malpractices which undermines the prospect of the emergence of credible and honest leaders. “There should be increased ethics and integrity training for electoral officers and public servants to reduce vote buying and other corrupt practices in the electoral processes” the communiqué noted.
Participants said excessive resort to cash-based transactions by corrupt people can be credited to government’s strict rules and implementation of cashless policy which make illicit transactions now more easily traceable.
“Government efforts have been focused on high-level corruption with less focus on petty corruption, the frequency of which is also higher and runs into billions of Naira. There is a misplaced faith in government’s ability to tackle corruption alone whereas, tackling the menace of corruption is a collective responsibility of all stakeholders” participants noted in the communiqué.
The programme was the 21st Anti-Corruption Situation Room (ACSR) in a series of events spanning one year put together to strengthen the campaign against corruption across Nigeria.
The event attended by several anti-corruption experts, the media and resource persons from the academic community discussed the different roles the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) can play in the anti-corruption agenda with special focus on “Corruption In Nigeria: Patterns And Trends (Second survey on corruption as experienced by the population).”
The participants commended the legal framework initiated by the Nigerian authorities including the various anti-corruption laws which included the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS), National Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) Act, Open Government Partnership (OGP), Preservation of Suspicious Assets Connected With Corruption and Other Relevant Offences Order and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, among others.
The ACSR is an innovative platform for all stakeholders to engage, evaluate and resolve issues around government’s anti-corruption agenda with a view to deepening stakeholders’ engagement in the anticorruption regime and generating alternative mechanisms for evaluation and monitoring of the progress.
The workshop brought together 53 critical stakeholders from state and non-state actors including the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related offences Commission (ICPC), Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-corruption Commission, Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB); Dr. Garba Abari, Director General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA); as well as leading media and civil society organisations across Nigeria.
The event which was Chaired by Professor Shehu Abdullahi, a leading criminology expert, had four seminal presentations by experts, including Dr Adebusuyi Adeniran who presented “A review of findings of the UNODC-NBS Second Survey on Corruption”; Dr Akinola Akintayo who presented a paper titled: “Government’s Anti-corruption Efforts in the Context of the UNODC-NBS Report: An Assessment”; Dr Ada Eze whose presentation was titled: “Mirroring UNODC-NBS Report in the Implementation of National Anti-corruption Strategy (NACS)”; and Dr Tunde Akanni who led the discussion on “Interrogating the Policy Implications of the UNODC-NBS Report: Opportunities for CSOs engagements.”