The Zero Corruption Coalition today marked the International Anti-Corruption Day with a call on the federal and states governments to make special efforts to detect corruption in their businesses in order to achieve meaningful development. International Anti-Corruption Day is a time for political leaders, governments, legal bodies and CSOs groups to work together against corruption by promoting the day and the issues that surround this event. On this day anti-corruption advocates organize events to engage the general public to effectively fight against corruption and fraud in communities.
Corruption is an issue that affects all countries around the world. It can refer to the destruction of one’s honesty or loyalty through undermining moral integrity or acting in a way that shows a lack of integrity or honesty. It also refers to those who use a position of power or trust for dishonest gain. Corruption undermines democracy, creates unstable governments, and sets countries back economically. Corruption comes in various forms such as bribery, law-breaking without dealing with the consequences in a fair manner, unfairly amending election processes and results, and covering mistakes or silencing whistleblowers (those who expose corruption in hope that justice would be served).
By resolution 58/4 of October 31, 2003, the UN General Assembly designated December 9 as International Anti-Corruption Day. This decision aimed to raise people’s awareness of corruption and of the role of the United Nations Convention against Corruption in combating and preventing it. The solution to Preventing and combating corruption requires a comprehensive approach, but only in a climate of transparency, accountability and participation by all members of society. Such as; governments, the private sector, the media, civil society organizations and the general public need to work together to curb this crime.
Recently, the Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Hans Hodel, said “his country had discharged its legal obligations to Nigeria by returning all the Abacha loot, estimated at more than $700 million dollars. We must praise the cooperation extended to Nigeria since 1999 by the Swiss government to return the Abacha loot. Seven hundred million dollars (about N112bn) is not small money by any standard anywhere. This heavy cash would have dealt with basic challenges of good healthcare or education in Nigeria. In fact, in a country where public office holders are accountable, such recovered funds could have made a significant impact on the socio/economic well-being of the citizens”. According to Global Integrity Group, a Washington – based corruption monitoring organization, $129 billion was “fraudulently transferred out of Nigeria in 10 years.” Converted into naira, this figure stands at N20.6 trillion stolen from Nigeria by public office holders in 10 years.
However, corruption is a crime against development which thrives in the shadows. International Anti-Corruption Day is an opportunity to shed light on the damage it does, and to reaffirm our commitment to act against it. The impact of corruption is greater than just the diversion of resources – significant as this is. Corruption is also corrosive of societies and contributes to a justified lack of trust and confidence in governance. The worst consequences of corruption are borne by poor and vulnerable groups. Bribes, for example, can make basic services available only to those able to pay.
As the poor are more reliant on public services, they are disproportionately harmed by what may be, in financial terms, small-time corruption. Research suggests that poor women are often the worst affected by corruption. The poor also have the most to lose from rapid degradation of natural resources stemming from corruption which enables laws and regulations to be circumvented. Illegal logging to which corrupt officials turn a blind eye, for example, can threaten the ecosystems on which poor people depend for their livelihoods, and lead to revenue losses for governments too.
Anti-corruption measures need to be integrated into development planning processes. The development partner’s work on governance around the country aims to strengthen the national institutions and processes needed to build trust, improve responsiveness and accountability, and mobilize resources for development. Taking back what was lost to corrupt practices is everyone’s responsibility – governments and civil society organizations, the private sector and the media, the general public, and youth who will play a pivotal role in seeing this agenda through so that their future is built on solid and honest foundations.
ZCC therefore is demanding as follows:
- That the President Goodluck Jonathan should not only take note, but also take a stand and live by example on the fight against corruption in the country by “Breaking the corruption chain “.
- We are calling on Mr. President to declare his asset as reference to other public officer in Nigeria.
- That government must take strong measures to prevent corruption in our country by adopting the draft strategy to combat corruption in Nigeria, so that it will serve as working policy document.
- That government must cut down waste and duplication of resources as contained in our budget as a measure of detecting corruption risks in governance.
- We are calling on the government of President Jonathan to see to meeting the basic needs of Nigerians by prioritizing and demonstrate its expressed commitment to fight corruption.
- That as a matter of seriousness urgently ensuring the effective prosecution of those suspected of massive corruption in the fuel subsidy reports
- That all outstanding corruption reports, including the House Committee report on the subsidy racket must be fully implemented and perpetrators effectively punished.
- We therefore, call on Nigerian government to exercise full-fledged transparency and accountability by publicly declare all the looted sums returned to Nigeria government following their repatriation and set up appropriate committee including credible Civil Society Organizations to ensure judicious utilization of the fund for maximum benefit of the country so the funds do not get recycled.
Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani)
Chair Steering Committee Zero Corruption Coalition