From Kehinde Adewole
Apparently concerned about the alarming rate of corrupt practices resulting into unequal distribution of wealth and opportunities in Nigeria, a Canadian member of Parliament, Honourable Roy Cullen and his colleague, Dr. Amos Dele Dada who is a Nigerian cleric based in Canada have listed more effective ways of combating the menace.
Dr.Dada Evangelist with the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC), and International Speaker as well as a Chemical Engineer, is also the President of the Canadian Institute of Leadership and Development.
In a press statement entitled : “Fighting Corruption in Nigeria and Africa”, co-signed by Cullen and Dada and made available to our Correspondent, they lamented how low the nation has sunk on the global scale of corruption, saying: “It is hardly surprising that Nigeria has languished in the lower quarter of Transparency International’s “Corruption Perceptions Index” for many years. In 2018, the country was ranked 144 out of 180, alongside countries such as the Comoros, Kenya and Mauritania. In 2019, Nigeria was ranked 146th, out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). The country scored 26 out of 100 points-where 100 points is close to corrupt-free. Since corruption is a clandestine activity, the CPI, which massively surveys individuals and organizations who work internationally, is considered the best proxy to measure corruption.
“To worsen this situation is the obvious compromise of the three arms of government, the judiciary, the legislature and the executive. To be successful, the fight against corruption must be a collaboration of all arms of government, the media, civil society, and citizens.”
Worried by the seeming inability of the weak institution in the country, the duo prescribed best global practices in fighting corruption. They said: “The Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC), which was founded in Canada in the House of Commons in 2002, has more than seven hundred members and is represented in 50 countries around the world. GOPAC’s vision is to ‘achieve accountability and transparency through effective anti-corruption mechanisms and inclusive participation and cooperation between parliamentarians, government and civil society.’
“To achieve this vision, GOPAC’s mission is to ‘assist and support parliamentarians in their advocacy and legislation to make governments accountable and transparent.’
GOPAC’s six regional chapters includes African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption (APNAC) which is a very active organization.
” It comprises eighteen African national chapters – including one in Nigeria. GOPAC focuses its non-partisan efforts on grand corruption as opposed to petty bribery. In fact, GOPAC has been advocating designating grand corruption as an international crime prosecutable in the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and its regional courts.
” To deal with corruption, one must address the supply side (the payers of the bribes) and the demand side (the bribe takers). Legislations like “the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act” in Canada, modelled after “The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act” in the USA, make it an offence to directly or indirectly give, offer or agree to give or offer any form of advantage or benefit to a foreign public official to obtain an advantage in the course of business, etc. In Canada resources have been augmented to ensure that charges can be laid and prosecuted, with some success. To do so the RCMP often rely on whistle-blower leads, ” thwy said.
Urging that all hands must be on deck, they listed other ways to fight corruption, saying: ” The church and religious organizations should henceforth be a major component in fighting corruption. To do this the church must have a paradigm shift in her operational, teaching and preaching strategies. The church must take responsibility for the ills in the society and seek to correct it using kingdom principles. The church should be people focused, develop and produce fearless, courageous, honest, holy, integrity focused and responsible Christians ready to fight for the kingdom and fight corruption in Nigeria and beyond. Like David we must be able to turn the debtors, distressed, the prostitutes and all sinners, to mighty warriors, saints who will turn Nigeria around for good. Consumerism message of the pulpit is consuming the nation. A message of hard work, productivity, perseverance and resilience will help the polity.
” Unfortunately, most Nigerians and Africans point to others as the corrupt one. Everyone that wants to marry is looking for the right person, the issue is are you the right person? Be the Nigerian that has a clean hand, not corrupt, not the problem but the reformer, repairer, not the bribe giver or taker, not the cheater. Every solution that is proffered in this paper or any paper or speech is driven by this point, the necessity for you the reader to change and be the right person. In every endeavor it is you and I that are involved in human transactions and if everyone will resolve not to be part of any corruption and be the change agent to fight corruption, we shall have a better nation and continent. We must stop giving excuses for being corrupt. Hunger, poverty, lack etc are cheap excuses to destruction. There is no one without a need, find a way to meet your need in a way that does not involve corruption! There are no ‘magic bullets’ in the fight against corruption, but in Roy Cullen’s book, The Poverty of Corrupt Nations, a Twenty Point Plan is offered as a way of attacking these vexing problems.
” Authorities should brace up. Introduce transparent procurement rules for public contracts, establish independent commissions to monitor compliance with the rules. Put an end to legal loopholes by creating special courts to try corrupters, money launderers. Cases where the staff of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices And Other Related Offences Commission- ICPC have become the corrupters is a sad commentary on our system. These individuals should be flushed out and jailed without the option of fine. The advent of COVID-19 has shown that the cost of governance can be substantially reduced. Some meetings where people fly to state capitals, the federal capital and to other countries with their overblown convoys should henceforth be virtual meetings! There should be no sacred cows, with the advantage of whistleblowers all corrupt suspects should be investigated, prosecuted and brought to justice without been maladjusted.
- The judicial will. To the ordinary man in Nigeria there is no judicial will to fight corruption. We understand that all the judicial officers are human beings subject to human frailties, temptations and weaknesses. However, we believe that they are well paid and if they are not well paid their salaries should be reviewed but we also know that no salary will ever be enough for everybody. The judicial will to fight corruption is what is needed. Our Judges should make covenants with themselves to fear God and not to pervert justice. These institutions would also have to undergo a cleansing process and establish internal control mechanisms. The great book declares “You shall not distort justice; you shall not be partial, and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous.”
- Anti-money laundering legislation and Court Creation. Together with a properly mandated and resourced financial intelligence unit, such legislation can be an effective deterrent for corrupt officials. There is need to set up a special court devoid of all these legal loop holes to try corrupt cases the same way election tribunals are set up for election malpractices.
“Genuine Asset Declaration before and after election to office and retirement. Periodic declarations by senior elected and unelected officials of assets and annual income provide important transparency. If privacy is a concern, buffers like a Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner that reports directly to Parliament can be instituted.
“Recover stolen assets. Nigeria must be committed and continue to recover $5 billion misappropriated by Sani Abacha. This can be a daunting task, especially obtaining the cooperation of offshore tax havens, but it can be facilitated by organizations like StAR – a collaboration of the World Bank and the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime (UNODC). The ‘Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative’ supports efforts of policymakers and practitioners to return stolen assets, remove barriers to asset recovery, and prevent the laundering of proceeds of corruption. StAR will help provide assurance that recovered assets will not simply be repatriated to governments that are corrupt themselves, by setting up a Board of Trustees for the management and distribution of such assets. It should not be limited to Abacha loot. There are many people that obviously have stolen assets; the former Petroleum Minister – Deziani AlisonMadueke and others like her are allegedly in that category. This money should be retrieved.
” Committed Legislative Arm. A committed and energetic legislative arm of government can initiate legislation that removes protection and parliamentary immunity for the criminal prosecution of sitting Senators, members of Houses of Representatives, Governors and members of Houses of Assemblies as it’s being practiced in Canada and other good democracies.
“Proper Management of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other parastatals. Nigeria may be suffering from what is referred to often as the natural resource curse, given its immense oil and gas assets. These assets regrettably lend themselves to corruption on a grand scale. GOPAC has argued for greater transparency in the disclosure of natural resource revenues in the public accounts of national and sub-national governments. Greater transparency can shine a light on nefarious activities, or at least beg important questions.
” Greater transparency and accountability in the disclosure of the beneficial owners of companies and trusts will inhibit the formation of layers of companies with nominee shareholders and directors to hide illicit funds. It is important and helpful if the typical destinations of corrupt funds also enact these measures. These include offshore Caribbean tax havens and others like Switzerland, UK, the USA, and Canada. CAMA is a step in the right direction if there are no hidden agenda to muffle churches and NGOs.
“The will of the western world to see Africa free must be genuine. When people steal money, they typically take it to banks in the Western world and recently Dubai. Until these nations legislate against such funds and punish offenders, they should stop calling Africa a corrupt continent. Other nations should stop raping Africa, taking the resources of Africa without accountability is systemic corruption and should stop. It’s unacceptable that Francophone nations still report to France. When you take the resources of Africans and use their leaders against them, it is corruption on a high level that needs to stop. The new romance of Africa with China is dangerous. China should not be allowed to buy Africa and her future!
” Catch them young. This is the best strategy for winning the war against corruption – educate the younger generation. Unfortunately, most of the current leaders are irredeemable. They are dry fish that cannot be bent but they will not live forever. Nobody does but, if we fail to “work” on the youth and just hope they will suddenly change then, we are wasting our time. Pastor Dada wrote a novel To The Rescue (Say No To Corruption), hoping we could use it as a thermostat not thermometer in colleges for general knowledge studies. There is a limit to what government can achieve with the current approach of haphazard investigation, prosecution and recovery system. It has not worked and it is difficult to see it working on the long run. Educating the minds of the next generation will be critical in the fight against corruption.
” Create enabling environment, fight poverty. The law of demand and supply is real. If there is no way for the people to feed themselves and the demand is higher than the supply the people will do anything to get the few supply. When 5 million people apply for 5,000 jobs there is a problem. People will be too willing to bribe a willing bribe taker to secure a position. We are part of the school of thought of those who condemn people for taking politicians’ money,