Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has said that none of the few countries in the world that could claim to have attained low levels of corruption is in Africa.
Osinbajo said this yesterday in Abuja at the public launch of ‘FLAG’IT,’ an electronic App designed by the Akin Fadeyi Foundation to help in documenting corruption conduct by officials.
Osinbajo, who was represented by the Special Adviser to the President on Rule of Law, Office of the Vice-President, Fatima Waziri-Azi, clarified the 2019 Global Corruption Barometer on African Citizens’ views and experiences of corruption.
He highlighted that “while most of the people surveyed in 35 countries felt that corruption had increased in their country, a majority equally felt that they as citizens could make a difference in the fight against corruption”.
“Only few countries in the world can claim to have low levels of corruption and none of these countries are in Africa,” he said.
He acknowledged the consensus that corruption and illicit financial flows delayed the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and worsened practically all human development indices in the continent.
He further stated that corruption has trapped the majority of African people, especially the most vulnerable, into a web of misery and poverty.
“It doesn’t matter how much revenue a country generates or how transformed it is or how progressive its plans are, corruption will ensure that the majority of the people do not benefit from whatever gains that are made. This is why debt doubled and poverty figure rose at the same period Nigeria made the highest oil revenues in its history. This is why a major pillar of this administration’s social economic agenda is the fight against corruption,” he said.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay, decried the opportunity the country missed as a result of looting attributed to ex-governors, ministers, legislators, public servants, bankers and businessmen between 2007 and 2013.
Sagay disclosed that a total sum of the money looted was N1.35 trillion (roughly $7.05 billion).
“One-third of the stolen funds could have provided 635.18 kilometres of roads, 36 ultra-modern hospitals per state, 183 schools, educated 3,974 children from primary to tertiary level at 25.24million per child and built, 20,062 units of two bedroom houses,” Sagay said.
He said the ugly situation clearly epitomised a dog-eat-dog scenario, adding that there was devastation in all spheres of human activity.
Sagay noted that the continued decay in the social services and the loss of value system in the entire country were indicatives of how the problems caused by corruption would mushroom in the dark when public scrutiny and collective fight against the ill declined.
Sagay added: “To this effect, no matter how strong the government’s commitment to the fight against corruption is and regardless of any government’s transparency, the participation of the people and civil society organisations in the realisation of a corruption-free society is very crucial. The Transparency International put it very succinctly, the people and the Civil Society Organintions (CSOs) ‘need a place at the table.”
He stressed the need for the people and the CSOs to engage the government on the implementation of budgets, public procurement and the functioning of all anti-corruption laws and conventions, adding that leaders must also allow the people to see the government at work and engage the people in dialogue aimed at promoting government implementation of anti -corruption policy.
While unveiling the new intiative, a former Editor of THISDAY Newspapers and Publisher of Cable Online, Mr. Simon Kolawole, said that with the FLAG IT App, the foundation was envisioning a Nigeria where citizens can document corrupt conducts from officials and by implication, a Nigeria where public officials are wary of demanding for gratification before doing their jobs for fear of being caught.
Kolawale, who is also the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Fadeyi Foundation, said that the foundation was engaged in series of collaboration and sensitisation activities to help redirect and re-orientate Nigerians towards embracing the culture of honesty and hard work.
He called on the federal government to speedily facilitate the partnership between the foundation and the Head of Service of the Federation for civil servants to sit up, do their jobs without demanding for bribes, and change the narrative of corruption about and against Nigeria.
Also speaking, the Africa Director of MacArthur Foundation, Kole Shettima, said corruption was disproportionately affecting the poor.