In commemoration of the International Anti-corruption Day, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Africa’s leading pro-democracy, policy, and research think tank, has admonished the government to further tighten the noose on persons that are corruptly enriching themselves within the system.
In a statement issued and signed by its Director, Idayat Hassan, CDD said corruption has attained a national emergency status that requires a collaborative strategy, involving the government and the citizens, in combating.
International Anti-corruption Day, by the decision of the United National General Assembly in 2003, is being marked 9th December in recognition of the need for immediate action against corruption, and the necessity to raise awareness on the role of the [UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC)] in combating and preventing it’.
The theme for this year is: “Your right, your role: say no to corruption.” The United Nations (UN) says at least $2.6trillion is lost to corruption each year, with severe consequences such as reduced or zero access to healthcare, education, sanitation, water, in addition to the scourge undermining the rule of law, weakening democratic institutions, reducing public revenues, increasing cost of governance, and contributing to insecurity and instability.
In its statement, CDD called on Nigerians to exercise their rights to call for accountability and join civil society and the media in saying no to corruption, adding that this year’s theme has re-emphasised the necessity for a united front against corruption and in turn the effective utilisation of the nation’s assets and resources to fight poverty, hunger, and underdevelopment.
CDD said the political leaders must intensify efforts by providing the political will, in addition to the legislative supports, in the fight against the scourge of corruption in Nigeria.
In addition, the organisation added, the less-than-desirable level of citizens’ involvement in the fight against corruption must change if the battle must be won, because corruption is as bad at the leadership, and as well as the followership levels.
According to CDD, as the world recovers from the devastating economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which its latest variant is threatening another global lockdown, it is important to protect and appropriately challenge available resources to tackle world’s poverty, hunger, and starvation.
The pro-democracy group said corruption has continued to constitute a serious impediment to growth and development as monies meant to deliver on key socio-development and economic projects are being siphoned, thereby worsening the cases of hunger, poverty, and starvation.
CDD reiterated that all forms of kickbacks, bribes, contract inflation, inducement, budget padding, and any other small or large scale official or unofficial embezzlement are deemed act of corruption and should be jettisoned and replaced with a national culture of transparency, accountability, and probity.
Explaining the impact of public corruption, particularly in Nigeria, the Pro-democracy body explained that the Covid-19 pandemic has further created vulnerabilities to corruption, as the fang of hunger and starvation bites harder because of the lockdown, travel ban, and because of the continued shrinking in economic recourses.
Quoting Nigeria’s dismal performance in the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index for the past six years, the pro-democracy, policy, and research body, said “more worrying was the federal government’s lack of response to suspected instances of monumental corruption like the recent revelations involving the Niger Delta Development Commission and the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs.”
CDD believes that without a firm and impartial attitude toward corruption, Nigerians will suffer even more from the consequences of corruption. With the Covid-19 pandemic still raging and recovery efforts being pieced together, addressing corruption will be key to the success of the recovery efforts.
According to its, for the fight to be successful, the society must own the culture of accountability and must be willing to always uphold the value.
The statement reads:
“The International Anti-corruption Day is a special opportunity for stock-taking. While the world has made significant strides in the fight against corruption, particularly with improved beneficial ownership disclosure, international synergies between and among anti-corruption agencies, and asset recovery and repatriation, more need to be done at the domestic level.
“Countries such as Nigeria remain entangled in corruption, and with the economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic still deepening, the effectiveness of recovery efforts will hinge critically on limiting corruption. For this reason, government officials, civil society actors, media practitioners and citizens must take a bold stand against corruption. In continuation of its anti-corruption interventions, CDD remains committed to supporting public institutions, particularly anti-corruption agencies with the technical capacity and material tools to improve the performance of their mandate.