CLEEN Foundation Held Town-Hall Meeting in Kaduna State Towards Fostering Citizens’ Support for the War against Corruption in Nigeria
The CLEEN Foundation (formerly known as Centre for Law Enforcement Education) is a non-governmental organization established in January 1998 with the mission of promoting public safety, security and accessible justice through the strategies of empirical research, legislative advocacy, demonstration programmes and publications, in partnership with government, civil society and the private sector.
Since December 2013, CLEEN Foundation is leading the implementation of the Accountable Governance for Justice and Security (AGJS) project in Nigeria as part of a consortium led by Partners for Democratic Change (PDC), a global organization with over 25 years experience at the forefront of civil society capacity building and good governance promotion. Other members of the consortium are Campaign for Good Governance (CGG) in Sierra Leone, Institute for War and Peace Reporting, Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) and BudgIT in Nigeria. The project aims at building more accountable institutions in both Sierra Leone and Nigeria by enhancing institutional transparency and preventing impunity for those who engage in corruption and transnational organized crime (TOC).
In continuation of our workplan on the Project, the CLEEN Foundation on 29TH JUNE, 2016, organized a one day town hall meeting towards fostering citizens’ support for the war against corruption in Nigeria. The town hall meeting held at Hotel Seventeen, No. 6 Tafawa Balewa/Lafiya Road, Kaduna had presentations on the role of citizens in the fight against corruption, evaluation of institutional efforts in combating corruption and strategic approaches to fighting corruption in Nigeria. The programme was chaired by the Chairman of Nigeria Bar Association, Kaduna Chapter; Barrister Sherrif Ndasule. Leading Anti graft agencies in Nigeria were also represented thus: The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) represented by Mary Cole (PDS), Enlightenment and Reorientation Unit, while the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) was represented by Olusegun Adigun, Zonal Commissioner, ICPC, North-West Office, Kaduna. Other discussants at the event are: Popoola Fatima Abiola, Chief Superintendent of Narcotics, NDLEA, Kaduna State Command; Ebele Ulasi Assistant Director, National Agency For The Prohibition Of Traffic In Persons (NAPTIP) And Abayomi Akinbo, Project Manager, BudgIT. The media, CSOs and representatives of relevant government agencies were also present at the meeting.
In his opening remark, the facilitator; Oluwole Ojewale from CLEEN Foundation emphasized that against the recent rating of the Transparency International, which ranked the country as 136th among 168 corrupt countries worldwide; the theme of the meeting “Fostering citizens’ support for the war against corruption in Nigeria.” is a clarion call to deploy all necessary measures to stem the tide of corruption in the country. He therefore charged participants to ask questions and project cross fertilization of ideas that can help to stem the tide of corruption in Nigeria as a coalition of the larger Civil Society in Kaduna, working closely with the anti-graft agencies to ensure real and substantial progress in the country’s anti-graft war.
Based on the observations and contributions made by the representatives of the key anti-graft agencies and the participants; the meeting highlighted the following:
- The pervasive and endemic nature of corruption in Nigeria has for a very long time led to efforts by successive administrations, both Military and Civilian, to come up with efforts aimed at fighting corruption.
- The fight against corruption is not new to Nigeria. We may however be correct to say that what is new is the current renewed vigour to fight corruption.
- The present administration must be applauded for demystifying the hitherto public perception of official double standards attributed to the failure of successive governments in combating the scourge of corruption in Nigeria. The perception hinged on the fact that those referred to as sacred cows or untouchables are allowed to go scot free from punishment, while only the poor and powerless bear the brunt of the law.
- It is not sufficient to make the budget document available to the members of the public, information about the time and sequence of the disbursement of the money to all MDAs must be made available to the public as well. In this regards tracka.ng becomes pivotal.
- Attitudinal changes starting from the family levels are also important. At this juncture, these should be re-invented and mainstreamed into curricular development from the elementary school tertiary education.
- It is not sufficient for the ministry of information to publicized the amount recovered from the looted funds, the EFCC must also ensure that the names of government officials and others who looted from government treasury should be published periodically.
- Among the leaders of the CSOs that were present, The CLEEN Foundation received a commitment from a particular organization called Know Your Budget. They were particularly fascinated about the relevance of openGov tools shared during the meeting and have made a commitment towards organizing a wider forum in August 2016 through which information about the openGOV tools would be share with a larger population.
- Furthermore, The EFCC and ICPC have resolved to convey the message of the participants to the leadership of the commissions by providing adequate and periodic information on the ongoing and concluded cases of corruption on their websites for easy access by the general public and relevant stakeholders, especially the cases that have been charged to courts for prosecution.
The forum therefore concluded; that focusing on preventing and fighting corruption alone is not enough, as corruption has affected all sectors of the polity. Fighting corruption is a multifaceted and complicated process requiring synergy among all sectors. Corruption has undermined the rights of citizens, and they cannot afford to wait any longer to reclaim them. It is necessary therefore to adopt a different mechanism and approach to fighting corruption that widely and genuinely seeks to streamline “citizen engagement” in all steps and stages. The citizens should all have a way of providing input to the process. Their opinions should not only be listened to, but also respected and acted upon.