By Lawrence Olaoye
Several speakers, including Edo state governor, Comrade Adam Oshiomhole, former Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, Justice Muhammed Akanbi, former Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and other notable
Nigerians at the third Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) Retreat held in Lagos yesterday lamented the increasing spate of corruption in the country and submitted that the fight must begin with the nation’s political leaders.
They were unanimous in their submissions that holistic steps must be taken to nip bud corruption in the bud for the nation to survive.
Akanbi, who chaired the discussion session of the topic, “Building Systems and Institutions that Prevent Corruption” urged the presidency, the governors, political parties to include, in their various manifestos, the issue of corruption and how they would eradicate it.
The former Appeal Court Justice, who urged the governors to lead by example and also ensure that those who are corrupt under them were brought to book, however hailed the Nigeria Governors’ Forum under the governor of Rivers State for putting in place a retreat and having the courage and tenacity in the face of obvious challenges to include in the discourse the issue of corruption.
He added that leadership must ensure good governance at all levels in the country. Akanbi however pointed out that President Goodluck Jonathan delayed in sacking the immediate past Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah.
Akanbi, who noted that there was the need for those heading the country`s anti-graft agencies to be bold and courageous, said, “You cannot lead in the struggle to fight corruption when you are yourself
corrupt. The challenge is there for our leaders. My challenge to the NGF and the political class is that they should put corruption in their manifestos.”
Ribadu, who warned that if Nigeria as a country must get it right, there must be the need for transparency, due process in governance as well as the need for less of private jets, beautiful government houses, beautiful cars, however said that if the president and governors behave well and are prudent in their expenditures, other arms of government would follow suit.
Prof. Akin Oyebode in his presentation, took a swipe at Jonathan for giving an award to late Head of State, General Sani Abacha because such would encourage corruption. He said “all that is required to save this country from the corrosion of unconscionable acts is total commitment of the powers- that- be to the fight against corruption by way of requisite body language and full co- operation with the agencies established to carry out the war against corruption.”
Former Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin, Prof. Grace Alele-Williams who called for a holistic approach to addressing the menace, however lamented that corruption has penetrated into the nation’s children as many do not want to read, but want to pass, adding that parents of these children assist them in doing that to buy results.
Oshiomhole, who corroborated Ribadu that governors must take the lead for their subordinates to follow, stressed that if subordinates realized that they could be fired, they would shun corruption. “In terms of looking at corruption induced capitalism, the Nigerian environment has gotten to a point where all of us should get up and fight corruption. When we talk about who will throw the first stone.
Just as we have so much more money, some people are getting more poorer.”
For governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, who noted that it it was not possible to rid a society of corruption, stressed that there was a lot of focus on the public sector, adding, “When you look at a
system that people’s way of living is incompatible with their income.
In terms of values, from the leadership side, when we reward people for no work done. 20 billion dollars missing and all seems to be well. I can’t contemplate what will happen now.”