As part of its mandate, the Inclusive Forum for Accountable Society (IFAS) Ondo State in collaboration with ActionAid Nigeria, in commemoration with the International Anti-Corruption with the Theme: Designing 2030 Truth, Trust, and Transparency as a day set aside by the United Nations to discuss anti-corruption strategies.
IFAS, which was established in 2015 with the aim of facilitating mutual dialogue between people living in poverty, community-based organizations and State institutions with focus on increasing government effectiveness, accountability, and transparency; create opportunity for sharing and learning best practices in participatory governance; increase citizens’ participation in governance process; and increase partnership and collaboration between government and community-based organizations.
According to the organizers of the program, the ranking of Nigeria as 144 out of 148 least corrupt nations by Transparency International, it was imperative for Nigerians to develop means of carrying out checks and balances of the resources channeled through the State and Local government meant for serving the people and driving development at the grassroots.
In an opening remark by Mr. Olamide Omoduni of Enough is Enough, he described corruption as a menace that is not only common among the public office holders but also ordinary Nigerians are involved in the act.
During the panel session on the Cost of Corruption featuring S.P Oyetunji Kayode (Police Officer), Rev. Awesome Olugbenga (Director General of Nigeria Anti-Corruption team), Mrs. Bolatito Ajibde (Magistrate Judge), HRM Babatunde (Oba of Bolorunduro Community), Mr. Wale Obanigba, Mr. Komolafe (IFAS Coordinator) and Mr. Joseph Akinkuotu. The panelists shared their thoughts on the causes of corruption, the cost and recommendations and as well answered various questions from participants. They listed the cost of corruption to include: lack, poverty, underdevelopment, disrespect, joblessness, faulty education, insecurity and abandonment of projects meant for the people.
In a chat with some of the panelists, Rev. Awe Olugbenga who is the director-general of Nigeria anti-corruption team pointed that the solution to corruption is that government must work to be conscious of the needs of the people and its provisions because most of the corrupt act is traceable to survival instinct of the citizens either as civil servants, young people, and other sections of the society. On the elected officers, political offices should be made less attractive. He also recommended that every citizen must be ready to combat corruption at all levels of the society saying that inherent corruption should be fought adequately by punishing offenders while circumstantial corruption should be removed by the government providing a social safety net for the citizens.
Also, His Royal Majesty Babatunde Olatunji, declared that Nigerians need to imbibe discipline because when there was discipline, nobody would be involved in dirty and corrupt acts that are capable of tarnishing our images not to talk of taking what belongs to other fellow citizens. In his words – “we need to imbibe discipline. This is what we all need to be above board in all we do as responsible citizens. Indiscipline breeds corruption”.
The event featured a drama presentation titled: The effect of corruption on the life of an average Nigerian.
In a communique made available to newsmen after the event, IFAS pointed out that development projects funded by public funds are not executed as promised; evidence of failed projects on which public funds have been spent; absence of infrastructure especially schools and primary health care facilities in rural areas; lack of safe drinking water in rural communities and lack of equipment, drugs, and personnel in most of the rural health care facilities.
The group, therefore, demand the following:
- Identify and prosecute people who are embezzling public funds in their custody either as civil servants or political officeholders.
- Ensure timely release of funds to Ministry, Departments, and Agencies in the public service
- Publish government budget allocation and releases to all Ministries, Departments, and Parastatals on monthly basis
- Activate monitoring and evaluation system to track and publish projects executed in line with funds released for such projects
- Create a forum for community consultation to ensure that services provided to people are based on their needs
- Ensure that services provided are gender-responsive
- Constituency projects are accounted for by legislators.
Mrs. Olaifa Oluwatobi (ESQ) who coordinated the event on behalf of the Justice, Development and Peace Centre thanked all participants and charged them to amplify the campaign against corruption in their local communities.
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