FORMER Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, Justice Muhammed Akanbi; former Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu; a member to the forthcoming National Conference, Prof. Akin Oyebode; serving governors Adams Oshiomhole of Edo; Babatunde Fashola of Lagos, and others have lamented the high level of corruption in the country.
According to them, the move to nip in the bud, corruption which continues to threaten national survival, must be holistic, while no effort should be spared to bring it to the end, just as they urged the Presidency, the Governors and other executive officers to take the fight against corruption as a very serious business.
Both Akanbi, Oshiomhole, Fashola, Ribadu and Oyebode spoke yesterday at the Third Nigeria Governorsâ€™ Forum, NGF, Retreat held at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Justice Akanbi who chaired the session with the topic, â€œBuilding Systems and Institutions that Prevent Corruptionâ€ however called for a holistic approach to the fight against corruption, just as he urged the presidency, the governors, political parties to include in their various manifestos, the issue of corruption and how they would eradicate it.
The former Justice of Court of Appeal urged the governors to lead by example and also ensure that those who are corrupt under them were brought to book. He however hailed the Nigeria Governorsâ€™ Forum under the governor of Rivers State for putting in place a retreat of this kind , adding that the leadership must ensure good governance at all levels in the country.
According to him, the commitment and readiness of the political class was critical to fighting corruption in the country. He maintained that until this was done, corruption may persist in the country. â€œAs we move towards 2015, whoever must be the president of this country or as a governor must be transparentâ€.
He said that President Goodluck Jonathan delayed in sacking the immediate past Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah when she was alleged to have been involved in corruption.
Akanbi who noted that there was the need for those heading the countryâ€˜s anti-graft agencies to be bold and courageous, said, â€œ you cannot lead in the struggle to fight corruption when you are yourself corrupt. The challenge is there for our leaders. My challenge to the NGF and the political class is that they should put the fight against corruption in their manifestosâ€.
Also speaking, former Chairman of EFCC Mallam Nuhu Ribadu warned that if Nigeria as a country must get it right, there must be the need for transparency, due process in governance as well as the need for less purchase of private jets, beautiful government houses and beautiful cars. He said that if the president and governors behave well and are prudent in their expenditure, the other arms of government would as well emulate them.
According to Ribadu, â€œthe most important thing in successful corruption prevention and fighting is having honest implementers. As is often said, our laws may not be faulty, but operators of the system may not be doing it well. To fight corruption, the umpire has to be clean, honest and sincere. Dishonesty cannot fight dishonesty. If you are corrupt, you cannot have successful anti corruption campaign. Having a corrupt person pretending to fight corruption only creates confusionâ€.
In his own presentation, Prof. Akin Oyebode took a swipe at President Goodluck Jonathan for giving an award to the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, saying that was encouraging corruption. He said that the problem with Nigeria is not that of corruption, but the governmentâ€™s inability to punish, throw away, burn and shame those caught.
â€œ All that is required to save this country from corruption is total commitment of the powers- that be to the fight against corruption by way of requisite body language and full co- operation with the agencies established to carry out the war against corruption.â€
Also speaking as chairman of one of the sessions, former Vice Chancellor, University of Benin, Prof. Grace Alele- Williams called for a holistic approach to addressing the menace and lamented that corruption has penetrated into the nationâ€™s children as many do not want to read, but want to pass, adding that parents of these children assist them in doing that by buying results.
In his remarks as a Discussant, governor Adam Oshiomhole of Edo State who corroborated Ribadu that governors must take the lead for their subordinates to follow, stressed if subordinates realize that they could be fired, they would shun corruption, adding, â€œIn terms of looking at corruption induced capitalism, the Nigerian environment has gotten to a point where all of us should get up and fight corruption. When we talk about who will throw the first stone. Just as we have so much more money, some people are getting more poorer.â€
For governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, who noted that it it was not possible to rid a society of corruption, stressed that there was a lot of focus on the public sector, adding, â€œWhen you look at a system that people way of living is incompatible with their income. In terms of values, from the leadership side, when we reward people for no work done. 20 billion dollars missing and all seems to be well. I canâ€™t contemplate what will happen now.â€
Earlier in his address of Welcome, Chairman, NGF and Rivers State governor, Chibuike Amaechi who noted that the retreat, being the third in its series as a follow up to the second one held in Sokoto State last year, explained that the retreat was designed to build on the gains of the last retreat as well as explore and take forward the 2014 â€“ 2016 Strategic Plan of the Forum, adding that Peer learning was the major hallmark as a Forum and there was no doubt that, â€œwe have a lot to learn from Lagos State. â€œ
Present at the Retreat were Babatunde Raji Fashola of Lagos; Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers; Adams Oshiomhole of Edo; Aliyu Wammakko of Sokoto; Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti and Abdulazeez Yari of Zamfara.
Others were Deputy governor of Oyo State, Otunba Moses Adeyemo; Deputy governor of Ogun, Prince Segun Adesegun; Deputy governor of Imo, Prince Eze Madunewe; Deputy governor of Kwara, Elder Peter Kisira and Deputy Governor of Osun, Grace Tomori.