By Funmi Falobi – Snr. Reporter, Lagos
On Tuesday, Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said government must expedite action to fight corruption in order to stop leakages and dwindling oil revenue.
The minister who spoke at the annual public lecture organised by the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) in Abuja with the theme: “Blocking Leakages amid Dwindling Oil Income” stated that taming the monster of corruption had become mandatory so as to enable government remain on track.
While contending that though corruption was prevalent, she declared that there were clear steps being taken to address issues of corruption squarely. She added that putting systemic checks in place remained the best strategic way of tackling corruption, stressing, “that is solving the root causes of corruption.”
“If you don’t fix this system, the next people that will come in will continue with the current system. And we are putting in place a system to stop corruption.”
Undoubtedly, corruption is a major challenge the nation must battle and overcome if indeed Nigerians must enjoy the dividends of democracy. Even on the global corruption index, Nigeria has not faired any better in its rating. Though the nation has institutions like the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the anti graft agencies established to fight corruption, analysts believe that they have been made moribund by the interference of government in their activities.
Reflecting, Emeka Ngige, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), while throwing his weight behind the Finance Minister, however, opined that government must walk the talk. He said, “I support Okonjo-Iweala wholeheartedly. What she said is a confirmation that corruption is a cankerworm in the country. But how many people have been prosecuted of corruption? There are no serious efforts by the government to fight corruption.”
He added, “The institutions to fight corruption in the country have been undermined by the government. Government is not giving them free hand to work.”
The Executive Chairman, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), Debo Adeniran regretted that “corruption has become a way of life in Nigeria” and “ our country is so corrupt to the extent that even corruption is scared of us”. He therefore urged the Federal Government to address the endemic corruption noting that the level of impunity on-going in the country is disheartening.
As it is, there must be concerted efforts by all to fight the endemic corruption ravaging the country. The government must show seriousness commitment to combating corruption and redeem the country’s image in the comity of nations.