*NASS, Customs, NDDC – You are cesspools of corruption – Sagay
Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, has appealed to Nigerians to stop finger pointing and cooperate with the government in the fight against corruption in the country.
In his address at the opening ceremony of a 2-day dialogue, on anti-corruption, organised by the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption (PACAC), at the Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Thursday, Osinbajo said for the fight against corruption to succeed, it must be a collective responsibility by all Nigerians irrespective of race, religion and political leaning.
“I think we should leave the finger pointing, because the finger pointing is unhelpful. What is important is that we recognise that there is a major problem here. What I’d like us to do if that is possible in the course of this dialogue, is to look at models that have worked elsewhere and to see whether these models are somewhat applicable here.
To look at best practices. The truth of the matter is that there is nothing peculiar about the Nigerian citizen, or the Nigerian type. Corruption thrives where it is allowed to thrive and there are many societies that have found themselves in worse circumstances than Nigeria and have somehow managed to solve their problems,” he said.
The acting president who said corruption is prevalent in the executive, judiciary and the legislative arms of government added “there’s no one in our nation that can say they are not in one way or the other, not necessarily being complicit but, at least, under some influence or the other of some of the implications of corruption”.
While agreeing with Osinbajo that corruption has done great harm to the nation, Senate President Bukola Saraki, in his goodwill message lamented that the scale of corruption in Nigeria is such that it is no exaggeration to say that no enemy of Nigeria, within or without, would have done the kind of damage, to the psyche, integrity and ambitions of the nation, as much as what corruption has already done.
Represented by chairman Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, the senate president noted that “because of corruption, nations that were our competitors before, have left us far behind in the global index of development. There is therefore need to generate a platform for continuous discussions on the issues around corruption and I thank PACAC for this”.
Saraki who however cautioned that the fight against corruption must be driven by a well-articulated strategy added “these strategies must be multi-faceted, taking alongside, all facets of Nigeria’s political, economic and social system, with each arm or department of government operating within their jurisdictions and mandates to secure a collective stakeholder stage about the fight. Deliberately casting the fight as that of one man, a kind of knight in shining armour, who wrestles with a resisting society, in my humble view, will not secure the desired result”.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Onnoghene, in his own remark assured Nigerians of the commitment of the judiciary in the war against corruption in the country.
He however urged anti-corruption agencies to follow due process in handling all corruption cases especially as it affects the judiciary adding that “if we allow the rule of law to reign, then you will agree with me there will be a dramatic reduction in corruption and injustice’.
Chairman of PACAC, Professor Itse Sagay, in his welcome address took a swipe at the National Assembly, the judiciary, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), describing them as cesspools of corruption.
He accused those who demonstrated against the government’s harsh economic policies last month, in Lagos of deliberately undermining the anti-corruption efforts of the government.
“These groups consisting of rented characters, and those who have lost elections or whose federal appointments were not renewed, went about pretending that they don’t know those responsible for our catastrophic impoverishment. These characters belong to two groups: Those who are agents of the looters, 2010 to 2015, and want to divert the attention of the ordinary Nigerians from the true culprits of our recession and misery, by transferring it to a hardworking, selfless administration which met sand rather than cash in our treasuries and The second group are the naïve, unthinking ones who cannot make the slightest connection between cause and effect”.
Jude Iloh, who spoke on behalf of the Open Society Initiative of West Africa (OSIWA), however differed with Sagay saying that those who participated at the protests were patriotic Nigerians who voiced their displeasure over the harsh economic situation in the country.
Iloh said “Let me as a Nigerian respond to Prof. Sagey, I think it is a little bit disconcerting and disrespectful if we tag every Nigerian who disagrees with us as ignorant. People who took to the street did it because they believe in this country, there is nothing that they said in that demonstration that was false. They said the economy is bad which is correct. They said that the naira is doing badly which is correct. They said they are hungry?, the right and the freedom of expression is fundamental predicate of democracy and we must allow citizens to voice their opinion even if we find it stupid”.
He lamented that “the practice of a signal narrative in a democracy is as destructive as dictatorship. And I want to end with the words? of Francis Cardinal Arinze, He said, ‘no man is wrong all the time even a damaged clock is correct twice a day”.