Corruption: We Are Part of the Problem, Says CSOs


By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have admitted their complicity in the high level of corruption that has permeated the Nigerian society, saying they had helped the corrupt to build narrative.

The Convener of Say No Campaign, Mr. Ezenwa Nwagwu disclosed this in Abuja at the CSOs/media roundtable on the anti-corruption commitments of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) organised by the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD).

According to him, “we need to run away from the narrative of the corrupt. We are part of the problem; we help the corrupt to build the narrative. Somebody is arrested for corruption; it is civil society who will be saying that the government is selective. It is amazing that it is the civil society that will first standout. Is the man pleading his innocence? We are the one who under the guise of human rights come on presumption of innocence.”

He added; “It is important that the narrative of the corrupt is taking away from civil society and begin to push that even if this government or any other government is selective, let that man go to court and proof his innocence.

“My problem is not selectivism; my problem is your innocence. We need to reset that mindset that says that let the corrupt be the one to be saying I am not corrupt and the court is the place to do so. It is only in Nigeria that a criminal is seeking appointment with the president, to explain and give president information, what is the court meant for?” Nwagu asked.

He noted that the leadership mentality in Nigeria was that they could not be questioned, noting that if the organised civil society through the OGP engagement process was eventually captured, it becomes very difficult to confront.

“If we lose our ability to bang the table, we will not  get the kind of attention that we required. We are at a point where we cannot shy away from the fact that the place where we are in our own country is that for you to achieve anything here you have to push

“The most critical tragedy of our situation is that the place that we look out for hope and deliverance is the cometary of anything good, the National Assembly,” he said.

Earlier, Centre LSD Programmes Coordinator, Uchenna Arisukwu said the OGP National Action Plan (NAP) intends to promote fiscal transparency through more citizen participation in the budget process, implementation of open contracting in the public sector, enhancing disclosure in the extractive industries, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the tax system in Nigeria.

He added that it would also ensure that corruption was rooted out through the establishment of a public beneficial ownership register, as well as the development of a platform for sharing information between government MDAs to detect and prevent corrupt practices, the strengthening of Nigeria’s asset recovery legislation and taking appropriate actions to co-ordinate anti-corruption activities.