Former British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, has said that the antidotes to corruption in the country remain the specification of stiffer penalties for convicted victims.
Straw, who held a closed door meeting with Senators on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who recently defected from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to the opposition, said Nigeria can only attain a corruption- free society if the opposition parties are resolute in their demand for transparency in governance at all levels.
He said certain factors are critical for a corrupt-free society to be attained, stressing that the judiciary, in particular, must be alive to its responsibilities by giving appropriate punishment to government officials found wanting in the fight against corruption.
“Allowing for transparency in governance and having clean courts to handle corruption-related cases in the country will go a long way in reducing corruption in the country.
“There’s the need to raise the penalty for corruption in Nigeria. You have anti-corruption laws, you have great laws and you jail people on corruption, and you ensure proper transparency; then, it’s safe to say that people would stop being corrupt. You’ve got to change the quality of your public administration.
“One of the encouraging signs about Nigeria is the fact that you have effective and viable opposition because democracy requires that there is change in the system. In democracy, there are alternatives,” he said. Straw stressed that the opposition parties must constantly be at alert to force every arm of government to play its role.
He challenged the APC to get quality manifestos adding that it must avoid the mistake of adopting quantity of policies in place of quality of policies.
Besides, Straw criticized former elections in Nigeria, describing the 2011 elections as better than others even though it did not meet international standards.
Senate Minority Leader, Senator George Akume, who spoke on behalf of the APC Senators, said the opposition was worried about the lack of transparency in governance and corruption in high places in Nigeria.
Others Senators present at the meeting were Bukola Saraki, Danjuma Goje, Ali Ndume, Abdullahi Adamu and Umaru Dahiru, all PDP Senators whose defection is currently subjected to adjudication in court.