Nigeria has high tendency for corruption – Ezekwesili
A human right activist and former Minister for Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili has called for the immediate dismissal of excessive centralized power operating in opaque context, especially in the oil and gas sector to successfully wage war against corruption in the country.
Dr. Ezekwesili made this call at a One-day High Level Workshop to Share International Anti-Corruption Best Practices to Address Emerging Issues themed “Preventing the Facilitation of Corruption in Public and Private Sector: Leveraging on International Frameworks to Promote Sustainable Development” organized by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) with support from MacArthur Foundation and Ford Foundation yesterday in Abuja.
She bemoaned the refusal of the President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint a Petroleum Minister to effectively coordinate activities and pilot affairs of the nation’s oil and gas sector, giving chances to infiltration of politically exposed persons into oil and gas contracting.
“Where the tendency to be corrupt is high, there will be more corruption. Effort to reduce corruption must critically consider prompt reduction of power that exercise in opaque context especially in the oil and gas sector.
Government must embrace total transparency and accountability, and open-up the economy to the world.
“Government must embrace full accountability in the nation’s extractive sector. If these are taken into account, the existing challenges of identifying beneficial owners in public contracting will be automatically addressed.
“While Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is an enabling law to ensure openness and transparency of public information disclosure, the political class however, does not want the Act in practice,” Dr. Ezekwesili bemoaned.
The human right crusader encouraged anti-graft institutions to embrace high level professionalism, openness and transparency in their activities in order to earn their credibility before the citizens who will take ownership and de-normalise behavour in demanding social justice and accountability in governance.
Giving his welcome remarks at the Workshop, the Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani) said despite emphasis placed by successive administration in combating corruption in the public sector which accounted for an estimated 70% of corruption cases in Nigeria, the spite of corrupt practices in the public sector remained a major impediment to service delivery and development success of the administrations.
He said: “The effects of corruption in service delivery in Nigeria are outrageous. The effects range from under development, absence of basic infrastructure facilities such as potable water, good road networks, dilapidated health care facilities and degrading services, massive poverty, cluelessness in professionalism, deficient leadership outputs, high unemployment and youth hopelessness, falling standard of education leading to production of low-quality graduates.
“Let me also use this medium to emphasis that since the issue of corruption remains persistent in Nigeria, putting in place adequate and effective anti-corruption response mechanisms with a view towards tackling the menace remains looming.
“We must therefore share international anti-corruption best practices to address emerging issues towards building integrity and emerging best practices on curbing corruption by leveraging on international frameworks to promote sustainable development in Nigeria.”
The Chair of Transparency International, Delia Matilde Ferreira Rubio added that collective and sincere effort must be invested by relevant authorities and the citizens to successfully combat corruption.
She called for strong institutions and de-normalised citizens’ perception through the passage of internationally ratified conventions to change process and institutions.
“Corruption can happen in any country. It has nothing to do with race. It has to do with reaction of the government or society towards corruption cases. It is the reaction that makes the difference in each society,” the Chair explained.
Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)