Michael Olugbode in Abuja
The federal government has reiterated the importance of women to the growth of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), insisting that guided steps must be taken to protect them and ensure that they are not left behind in the push for economic recovery.
Speaking at the formal launch in Abuja, Tuesday, of the second phase of the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC II), a programme supported by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Senator Atiku Bagudu, said there is the need for promotion of full participation of women in the economy.
He noted this would represent a strategy to substantially improve socio-economic indicators such as GDP growth, employment generation and poverty reduction.
He noted that enhanced performance of the criminal justice system and justice service delivery, increased transparency and accountability of anti-corruption systems and reforms in Nigeria are required for equity and robust participation of economic agents in all sectors of the economy.
He added that, “Beyond gender parity, ensuring that women thrive in Nigeria society also involves protecting vulnerable women from Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) and enforcing existing Child’s Rights Laws.”
Bagudu, represented by Director (International Cooperation), Federal Ministry Of Budget And Economic Planning, Dr. Lanre Adekanye, while recognizing the success of RoLAC I, said: “The Second Phase being flagged-off today, seeks to further improve the justice sector and anti-corruption systems by reinforcing the achievements made so far and promoting effective enforcement of legal and policy frameworks with a focus on the implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy and the National Policy on Justice.
“The intervention aligns with the National Development Plan 2021-2025, the blueprint for Nigeria’s economic recovery, conceived to create strong and sustainable governance structures, and efficient institutions that promote citizens’ protection. In the same vein, RoLAC Phase II is expected to drive productivity for sustainable growth in line with the Renewed Hope Agenda of the current administration.”
He noted that: “In terms of the lessons learnt in implementation of RoLAC Phase 1, the implementation of Phase Il is expected to have a robust coordination structure involving the Justice and Anti-corruption institutions, in order to increase their participation in the development and management of the anti-corruption and justice reform agenda.
“We must use this platform to demonstrate the possibilities in meeting our ambitious inclusive development objectives by fostering a policy environment that maximizes the potential of all Nigerians to productively contribute to the economy.”
In his speech, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Adegbite, said that, “The Federal Ministry of Justice is appreciative and happy to collaborate with you on your Phase II Programmes.
I am sure that the outcomes captured under your Phase II Programme will further bridge the gaps in Criminal Justice and Administrative Reform and Enhance Systems and Structures in the Justice Sector.
Fagbemi who was represented by Director Planning Research and Statistics in the Ministry of Justice, Victoria Ojogbane said: “I seize this opportunity to commend the Leadership of the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC II) Programme for your robust interface and quality programmes targeted at nation building.”
On his part, Head of Programme, Nigeria International IDEA, Mr. Danladi Plang, said over 1.5 million people have benefitted from RoLAC during the first phase.
Plang said RoLAC has made a difference having contributed to set up and strengthen policies and processes; contributed to the increased implementation and compliance with the Administration of Criminal Justice law; contributed to increased inter-agency cooperation in the fight against corruption and created synergies between government and civil society organizations, increased access to justice for survivors of Sexual and Gender Base Violence, through the establishment of sexual assault referral centres and Special GBV courts, increased and improved the protection of the rights of children.
He noted that all states have now adopted the Child Rights Act or its equivalent, and 35 out of 36 states have adopted the VAPP law.
He said: “Based on these results, it was clear to us, at the European Union, that a second phase of this RoLAC was needed, to consolidate the progress and continue the work on strengthening the rule of law and fighting corruption in Nigeria.
In the second phase, RoLAC will continue to focus on: Criminal justice, Prison reform, Curbing sexual and gender-based violence, Strengthening and implementation of anti-corruption policies and tools.
He reiterated that democratic governance and the rule of law are the bedrock of the European Union and its role in the world, noting that a community of 27 countries and over 400 million people based on the rule of law and on shared fundamental values: the European Union is a unique space of peace, social progress and shared prosperity.
He lamented that “corruption is a challenge in Nigeria, and indeed in many countries of the world, as it undermines good governance and human rights, and contributes to poverty.
“It is proven that corruption undermines the foundations of democratic institutions and represents a major barrier to social and economic growth.”