From Noah Ocheni, Lokoja
The Country Director ActionAid Nigeria, an anti poverty Organization, Ene Obi has called on the Nigerian Government to intensify its fight against corruption through stiffer punishment for looters and inclusion of citizens in the fight against corruption.
In a statement made available to journalists in Lokoja at the weekend, Obi 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 government relates with its citizenry”.
According to the statement, the report which ActionAid Nigeria,
social justice and non-governmental organisation working to combat poverty and all forms of injustice in Nigeria
considers to be revealing, shows how Nigeria has retrogresively slipped down in the hierarchy of 180 countries measured.
“In the last two years, Nigeria has slipped from 148 in 2017, made a slight progress in 2018 and now slipped down by 2 position to 146 among 180 Countries. Nigeria’s score has placed her between 3 top scorers and bottom scorers in sub-Sahara Africa”. She lamented.
ActionAid 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.
The Country Director stressed the need for Government to engage civil society, and protect citizens, activists, whistle-blowers and journalists in monitoring and exposing corruption.
Obi 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 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 sensitisation to mobilise a critical mass of citizens against corruption.
” This will eliminate the distrust and negative perceptions gaining momentum in citizens’ space. ” she added.
She also said that there should be more support in strengthening institutions with credible visionary leadership with the capacity to mould both the narrative and direction of the anti – corruption efforts in Nigeria.
The statement added that
there should be no political interference in execution of legislations and there should be clear-cut roles and responsibilities among relevant agencies in the fight against corruption adding that the Media should be more proactive with 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 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 corruption in Nigeria.