Awka – The need for Civil Society organizations and the Media to be fully integrated in the war against corruption, formed the crux of a town hall meeting on the Anti-Corruption fight in Anambra State, held on Thursday in Awka, the state capital.
TNC Correspondent who attended the forum, reports that the event organized by BudgIT foundation and had as its participants, journalists and members of rights groups.
It also presented a veritable platform for Public Dialogue between Anti-Corruption Agencies (ACAs), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), citizens and the Media, on the Anti- Corruption fight in Anambra State
Henry Omokhaye, of BudgIT in an opening remark, said corruption has continued to inhibit socio-economic growth in the country, contributing to the high level of poverty in the country.
He said having identified the challenge, BudgIT is working with relevant stakeholders to set machineries in motion, that will mitigate corrupt practices, especially in public places.
According to him, the meeting was to strengthen the collaboration among the participants to begin to question corruption in government and public sector circles.
“We expect that participants will leave this meeting provoked to end corruption. We want people not to leave this fight for anti-graft agencies alone but to be fully involved.
“A recent report by Prime Waterhouse titled ‘Impact of corruption on the Nigerian economy’ has said that if not tackled head-on, by the year 2023, corruption would have eaten over 37 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). What that means is severe poverty, poor health services, lack of access to education, poor infrastructure. So we want everyone to leave this meeting with the commitment to ensure that Anambra State is rid of corruption,” he said.
The Anambra Coordinator of Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) program, Josephine Onah revealed that in Anambra, Anti-Corruption Agencies have been rolled out in various government Ministries and agencies, saying that what remains is to harmonize efforts.
“We have rolled out the machineries and we believe that this meeting is key in galvanizing the efforts of stakeholders to achieve our common goal, which is to end corruption in Nigeria,” she said.
In a paper presentation titled ‘The journey so far in the Anti-Corruption Fight, ICPC Perspective’, the Zonal Coordinator of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, Mr Amedu Sule, was positive that despite the surge in corruption, the country is winning the war against corruption.
This he said, is because of the new initiatives being evolved that will not only ensure recovery of looted funds, but also ensure that public office holders are accountable and transparent in the management of public funds.
Sule, who regretted that corruption has become endemic in the system, observed that although successive governments have evolved all manner of programs aimed at fighting corruption, they have not yielded the desired result because there were no political will by government to drive the programs.
He commended the idea of the townhall meeting, saying it is important that the CSOs and the Media are given the opportunity to explore their influence in contributing to the ongoing corruption fight.
The State Open Government Partnership (OGP) Anti-Corruption lead, Prince Chris Azor represented by Alfred Ajayi, said in a paper titled ‘THE ROLE OF CIVIL SOCIETY AND MEDIA IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION IN NIGERIA,’ that given the key role Civil Society and the Media play in tackling corruption in Nigeria, government should make a definite resolution to create an enabling environment for them to operate and deliver their mandate to the people.
“The challenges of the media and CSOs in the discharge of their duties include harassment and intimidation from government, poaching and co-option of members, lack of resources, poverty, shrinking civic space, lack of capacity, internal wrangling, poor corporate governance and partnership.
“Partnerships are imperative. This can be leveraged through Open Government Partnership (OGP). Civil society organizations and media must be effectively honest, manifest corporate governance principles, transparency and accountability. Those palpable and potential challenges posed by corruption will be addressed, if the civil society and media will be able to do much more than they have been doing.
“Remember again, the reason we need to enlist the media and civil society in the anti-corruption fight is because of their influential position in the society,” he concluded.