- CISLAC inaugurates TI local advisory group
Corruption has been described as one of the greatest obstacles in fulfilling a stateâ€™s obligation to protect and promote human rights and good governance in Nigeria.
Also, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the media were enjoined to demand accountability from public officials, on the need to know how the nationâ€™s resources are being allocated or spent; because it is their right to ask and it is the responsibility of the public officials to answer.
These statements and calls were made at the one-day orientation programme and inauguration of the Transparency International Local Advisory Group, which was organised by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) in Abuja recently.
Making the calls in his welcome address at the event, the Executive Director of CISLAC, Mr. Auwal Musa a.k.a Rafsanjani commended all participants for their commitments to see that everyone especially the key stakeholders in the fight against corruption are given the opportunity to actively participate in the development of this country.
CISLAC, as National Contact of Transparency International, has been mandated by the TI- International Secretariat (TI-S), Berlin, to facilitate the formation of a full-fledged TI National Chapter in Nigeria. The formation of a Local Advisory Group occupied by credible organisations involved in anti-corruption efforts is the first major step toward realising this objective, Rafsanjani noted.
According to him, â€œThis is being pursued within the framework of the new project â€˜Tackling Inequalities in Nigeria through Transparent, Accountable and Participatory Governanceâ€™, which is being implemented in collaboration with TI- S in Berlin, with support from the Ford Foundation under their governance project. The project will support the contribution of various state and non-state actorsâ€™ efforts in enhancing transparency, accountability and participatory governance in combating corruption.
â€œThe journey to where we are today started around 2009 when CISLAC first applied to Transparency International for process of accreditation as a national chapter in Nigeria. As an organisation working tirelessly for greater accountability and transparency in governance in Nigeria, CISLAC has been working concertedly with other CSOs,â€ the civil society activist noted.
To him, â€œAside the socio-economic damage corruption wrecks on a nation like Nigeria, the moral damage of corruption is perhaps more serious. Bribery and other forms of corruption, involve a breach of trust or a violation of a relationship. The damage to confidence, reputation and image inflicted on a corporation or on public sector administration is debilitating, while the loss of faith in the integrity of decision makers can even destroy the social fabric of a nation.
â€œWhile seemingly compassionate on the surface, corruption breeds distrust and may contribute to more violent crimes as the social injustices accumulate and become more obvious. Corruption also constitutes one of the greatest obstacles in fulfilling a stateâ€™s obligation to protect and promote human rights and good governance in Nigeria.
â€œTherefore, the purpose of this inauguration and orientation programme is to provide forum for Civil Society to offer strategic, and substantive guidance on the project implementation; as well to strengthen the project understanding of the role CSOs play in fighting corruption and how this role could be reinforced in collaboration with other relevant government agencies saddled with anti-corruption efforts coordination.
â€œIt is also to strengthen the presence of TI and the anti-corruption movement at large in the country through enhanced accountability, transparency and public engagement and monitor the overall progress and implementation of project activities and providing guidance for the different outputs.
â€œWhile the main objective of the project, is to strengthen the presence of TI and the anti-corruption movement at large in the country through enhanced accountability, transparency and public engagement. Underlying the aforementioned objective is the realisation that, with coordination and support, a vibrant civil society in Nigeria in partnership with relevant government agencies saddled with coordination of anti-corruption efforts in the country will play crucial roles.
â€œTherefore, CSOs and the media need to demand accountability from our public officials. We need to know how our resources are being allocated or spent; it is our right to ask and it is their responsibility to answer. We need to use the available opportunities such as passed fiscal laws especially Freedom of Information Act 2011 and Public Procurement Acts 2007 to demand for accountability on procurement and award of contracts; revenue allocation; disbursement of ecological fund; constituency allowances; infrastructural development; housing; agriculture; the Code of Conduct Bureau etc.â€
Rafsanjani noted that efforts have been put in place by the current leadership and political will to create the enabling environment to address the problem of corruption and poor governance.
â€œThe challenge of tackling corruption in Nigeria has been a â€˜leadershipâ€™ test for successive regimes. Therefore, to deal with corruption, a holistic approach where the people, the public and private sectors are involved must be taken into consideration. Stronger roles ought to be played by the private sector in the whole process of anti-corruption.
â€œPerhaps the biggest question would be to ask if it would be easier to demand compliance if there are adequate legal frameworks spelling out offences and sanctions with regards to corruption in the private sector. Also, we should ask what role incentives can play in reducing private sector involvement in corruption. Globally, research has shown that there are certain sanctions and incentives that will get businesses involved in the fight against corruptionâ€, he added.