ActionAid Nigeria has called on the Nigerian Government to intensify its fight against corruption through stiffer punishment for looters and the inclusion of citizens in the fight against corruption.
The Country Director of the antipoverty organization, Ene Obi in a statement made available to journalists in Lokoja at the weekend said “While it appears that the Nigerian Government is doing so much in fighting corruption, the just-released Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2019 has contradicted the assumption that we are excelling in the fight against corruption. We do agree that the CPI report annually is based on perception, however, perception also help to validate the gaps that exist in the way’s government relates with its citizenry”
According to the statement, the report which ActionAid Nigeria considers to be revealing shows how Nigeria has retrogressively slipped down in the hierarchy of 180 countries measured. In the last two years, Nigeria has slipped from 148 in 2017, made slight progress in 2018 and now slipped down by 2 positions to 146 among 180 Countries. Nigeria’s score has placed her between 3 top scorers and bottom scorers in sub-Sahara Africa”.
ActionAid Nigeria, a social justice non-governmental organization working to combat poverty and all forms of injustice in Nigeria, found the recommendations of CPI very useful especially in the area on citizens engagements. “Governments should protect civil liberties and political rights, including freedom of speech, expression, and association. Governments should engage in civil society, and protect citizens, activists, whistle-blowers, and journalists in monitoring and exposing corruption”.
The Country Director further said that the recommendations are valid as we have seen in recent times that the civic space is shrinking, Journalist are indiscriminately arrested and detained with frivolous charges, access to information is still a very weak and social contract between government and citizens is still not effectively executed.
Ene Obi, however, advocated that government at all levels should be more deliberate on citizen inclusion and engagements in the anti-corruption fight through sensitization to mobilize a critical mass of citizens against corruption. This will eliminate the distrust and negative perceptions gaining momentum in citizens’ space.
She also said that there should be more support in strengthening institutions with credible visionary leadership with the capacity to mold both the narrative and direction of the anti-corruption efforts in Nigeria.
The statement added that there should be no political interference in the execution of legislation and there should be clear-cut roles and responsibilities among relevant agencies in the fight against corruption. The Media should be more proactive in investigating the news behind the news.
It equally recommended that there should be an effective media engagement to generate more evidence through investigations of corrupt practices to stimulate public discourse.
The statement maintained that Civil Society Organisations should partner with the media like what ActionAid Nigeria did by providing an endowment to the media to investigate and uncover hidden corrupt practices.
Ene Obi advised that Citizens should uphold values of honesty, integrity, and transparency and should strongly take ownership of the fight against