By UGONNE UZOMA
OWERRI- The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has urged community and religious leaders to support the anti-corruption fight at the grassroots level.
The Chairman of the commission, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, said the war should be taken to the communities through the enthronement of intergrity, transparency and accountability among the people.
He spoke in Owerri at a workshop on behavioural change, national ethics and integrity policy and constituency projects tracking initiative.
It was organised by the commission for traditional and religious leaders as well as community-based civil society groups.
Owasanoye, represented by the South-East member on the ICPC board, Sen. Anthony Agbo, said that all hands must be on deck for the anti-corruption war to succeed.
He identified the endemic corruption level as the root of the country’s problem, from insecurity to poor infrastructure development.
He alleged that the biggest cases of corruption in Nigeria “are perpetrated by civil servants in active service and not politicians as erroneously believed”.
Owasanoye argued that crimes, such as budget padding and project duplication, “are some of the ways corruption is proliferated in the civil service and resources misappropriated”.
He, therefore, urged community and religious leaders to keep track of government’s projects in their areas and the funds appropriated for them for transparency and accountability.
He further urged them to use their influence to bring about the desired behavioural change and promote the national ethics and intergrity policy.
The ICPC boss also challenged more whistleblowers to expose persons engaged in coruption in order to arrest the situation before it degenerates.
In a presentation, the Imo Resident Anti-corruption Commissioner, Mr Peter Alumbugu, charged community and religious leaders to rid their communities of corrupt tendencies through behavioural change strategies.
Alumbugu further urged them to closely monitor corrupt practices and transparency issues and report observed infractions to the anti-graft agency without delay.
He also advised them to thoroughly study and review the operational systems in procurement and implementation of public projects and encourage community members to participate actively in execution monitoring.
He said that the commission had been proactive in preventing and eradicating the diversion of public funds in the implementation of public-funded projects.
Alumbugu said this was being done through collation and analysis of suspicious projects, which were tracked and properly investigated, leading to enforcement and possible prosecution of those involved.
He said the effort had led to significant improvement and impact on the works of various implementing agencies and a higher percentage of projects executed to specification.
The workshop also featured a paper entitled, “Advancing the core values of the national ethics and integrity policy for behavioural change: the role of traditional and religious leaders.”
The presenter, an Assistant Director in the commission, Mrs Chinwe Egbeocha, urged participants to imbibe the values of the policy, teach others and collaborate with ICPC and other similar agencies.
Also, the State Director of the National Orientation Agency, Mrs Maureen Oparaji, pledged the support of the agency in promoting the vision and activities of ICPC. (NAN)