To really deal with the problem of corruption in Nigeria, the anti-graft institutions of the government must be strengthened.
Speaking on “Corruption and Recession: The Nigerian Experience,” the discussants agreed that such anti-graft institutions as ICPC, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and even the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the police should be made stronger to achieve better results.
They criticized the idea of building the whole anti-corruption campaign around perceived strong personalities, arguing that only the working out of a strong system for the anti-graft agencies could guarantee their efficiency.
“In developed democracies, what they have are strong institutions, not individuals. Individuals can die at any point in time, so why should we tie the fate or performance of any government institution that is fighting corruption to an individual?” Dr Aminu said.
As a way of discouraging corruption, he said prosecution of offenders should not take longer than three months, while the government should also pay workers living and realistic salaries.
Speaking on recession at the discussion presided by Professor Afis Oladosu of the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Univeristy of Ibadan, the don noted that Nigeria had been experiencing the decline in economic prosperity “right from the second quarter of 2016” and, therefore, called for legal frameworks for economic diversification across key sectors of the economy.
He underscored the need to overhaul the tax system “to yield more revenue to pay for development and increased salaries and ensure “prompt payment of salaries to remove uncertainty in workers’ expenditure.”
Dr Aminu urged the government to explore means of separating the payment of workers’ salaries from oil proceeds in the next two to three years, saying “oil proceeds should, as a matter of deliberate policy, be devoted to capital expenditure, or not more than 30 per cent of oil proceeds may go into recurrent expenditure in not more than three years from now.”
He also charged the government to institutionalize monitoring and evaluation in all its activities to minimize resource wastage.
He advised households and individuals to embark on revenue and human resource diversification, while appealing to future fathers and mothers to belong to different professions to minimize impact of future recession if it affects their only profession.
On his part, ICPC’s Opara called on all Nigerians to join the crusade against corruption.
According to him, given the fact that “we are all feeling the impact of corruption,” all Nigerians must support the anti-graft agencies to succeed in their mandate by reporting corrupt practices going on anywhere they are.
He clarified that 75 per cent of ICPC mandate bordered on prevention of corruption through public enlightenment, while 25 per cent is for enforcement and prosecution of offenders.
Opara described lack of patience and will to report cases of bribery and other corrupt practices by many Nigerians as constituting an impediment to the fight against corruption in the country.
“If you are on a public bus, for example, you will hear passengers encouraging the driver: ‘Please, settle them [extortionist policemen], we are in a hurry’. Some would claim they have appointments. And in order not to incur the wrath of their passengers, the drivers quickly settle the policemen and proceed with the journey,” he lamented.
In his opening remarks, the UIMGA president, Dr Saka Adewumi, said the topic for discussion was carefully selected considering the hardship people faced before, during and after Ramadan which, according to him, was not unconnected with “corruption and recession that have become a part of our life.”
(Edited By Olamide Michael)