By Funmilayo Adeyemi
Abuja – ActionAid Nigeria (AAN), a Non-Govermental Organisation (NGO), has appealed to all stakeholders to join the fight against corruption in order to make Nigeria a corrupt free society.
Ms Ene Obi, Country Director of AAN, said this could be achieved if the stakeholders could refrain from exhibiting attitudes that were aiding and abetting corruption in a polluted environment like Nigeria.
She made the appeal in Abuja on Tuesday at a “Two-day Citizens Dialogue on the Ills of Corruption in Nigeria and the People Living in Poverty and Exclusion.’’
The programme with the theme: “Strengthening Citizens Resistance Against Prevalence of Corruption’’ is an initiative of SCRAP-C project of the organisation.
SCRAP-C is a five year project supported by the Department for International Development (DFID) for anticorruption in Nigeria.
The programme is jointly organised by ActionAid, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) and Centre for Communication and Social Impact (CCSI).
Obi said it had become worrisome that about 82 million Nigerians were estimated to be currently living below the poverty line of less than 1.9 dollars a day.
She said corruption was a major challenge to ending poverty in the country, hence the need to tackle it.
She said the major indicators of poverty were lack of adequate education, food, shelter, health and economic dislocation among others.
According to her, corruption is a key element to maltreatment by public agencies, exclusion from key decision making processes and resources in the society.
“ActionAid sees these pointers as man-made because it is not natural for me to lack access to health care, clean water, sanitation, education, food, and shelter among others.
“In ActionAid, we believe poverty can be conquered when governments stop using practicability in our constitution to substitute for insensitivity and ineffectiveness.
“It is my appeal, therefore, that we all join hands to fight against corruption.
“Let’s stop celebrating men and women in our society that contributed to our untold generational hardship, and turn the flip to encouraging hard work, integrity, honesty and transparency.”
Similarly, Mr Newton Otsemaye, Project Manager of SCRAP-C project, said the root cause of corruption was poverty, adding that this must be addressed by all.
He said poverty was the inability of a person to access education, healthcare facilities, good water among others, adding that these were within the ambience of the government to provide.
He said to address the menace of corruption and bringing people out of poverty, the weak legal system must be addressed as people involved in corrupt acts were not properly sanctioned.
“Sanctions must be strong, enforcement must be strong that is why as a people, we must begin to change our attitudes of celebrating people who have stolen from us.
“The aim of this programme is to sensitise people on changing public attitudes towards corruption,” he said.
Also, Mrs Babafunke Fagbemi, Consortium Partner, CCSI, said there was need for collaboration of all to end poverty in Nigeria by eliminating corruption at all levels.
Fagbemi said the campaign if strengthened would help change our value system and put in check corrupt public officials.