By Peter Ejiofor
Lagos – Mr Olanrewaju Suraju, Chairman, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre), has commended journalists and media houses for showing concern about the need to end corruption in the country.
Suraju said in a statement in Lagos on Friday that such a concern was shown at a time when public officials had stolen billions of dollars and keeping them in foreign countries.
Suraju, who was quoted as giving the commendation at a media round table for editors in Lagos on Tuesday, expressed appreciation for the role the media had played in the vigorous campaign against corruption.
He, however, added that the media could still do more.
Describing the media as major strategic partners in the anti-corruption campaign in Nigeria, Suruaju reminded the journalists on need to show greater commitment to the
campaign against sleaze in Nigeria.
He said that was a way of bringing an end to a practice that continued to harm the country’s overall development.
“Corruption is like cancer. When allowed to grow, it will end human life and destroy the fabric of human existence.
“Corruption is behind underdevelopment, poverty, poor public health, high mortality and infant mortality rates, violence and extremism.
“Any country overwhelmed by corruption has no chance of survival,’’ Suraju said.
He noted that last week, HEDA a foremost anti-corruption group, said that more than four billion dollars had been recovered from only one individual.
The group said that volumes of financial transactions were highest in Lagos, Rivers and Kano involving huge volumes of cash, yet the states had no domestic anti-corruption institution.
Suraju said there had been some improvements in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
He noted that the anti-corruption survey conducted by the United Nations (UN) Office of Drug and Crime (UNODC) indicated a slight decline in corruption compared with the situation in 2016.
He, however, said that corruption continued to impugn the character of every Nigerian in the comity of nations.
“We recognise the strategic role of the print and electronic media in the fight against corruption. The media continued to be a major pillar in this campaign.
“HEDA is willing to continue to collaborate with the media to ensure Nigeria regained her reputation as the leading light in Africa against kickback and illicit asset acquisition,’’ the HEDA chairman said.
He expressed regret that some high-profile Nigerians accused of corruption still found their way into the National Assembly as legislators.
“One former governor has 800 million pounds lodged abroad. There is a Senator that has a house worth over 6 million pounds.
“There is a public official whose asset declaration went up by about N34 billion, a governor in one of the states categorised as poor. There is the need to work together to fight corruption,’’ he said.
Suraju said what the EFCC was doing in Nigeria was unparalleled compared with the activities of anti-corruption institutions in many African countries.
He said, “The EFCC is doing a good job. What we have seen is increased hurdles mounted by the Ministry of Justice.
“There is deep concern about the commercialisation of the whistle blower policy. EFCC needs to be encouraged to do more.’’
He said that in the past one year, HEDA had conducted 18 anti-corruption situation room in the six-geo political zones of the country in its bid to energise Nigerians in the anti-corruption drive.
The group also introduced some of its latest research publications, one of which is the third edition of a compendium of 100 high profile corruption cases in Nigeria.