Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola and his Edo State counterpart, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole have proffered ways to tackle the worsening cases of corruption in the nation’s polity. The duo were the discussants at the 3rd Nigeria Governors Forum Retreat under the topic: Building Systems And Institutions That Prevent Corruption at the Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, southwest Nigeria at the weekend.
Fashola advocated a re-evaluation of the society’s value system which shows permissiveness for a situation whereby some people’s income and social living standard is incompatible with their known source of income and other socio-economic misconducts. He added that some people held wedding ceremonies and parties that their resources could not support, stressing that there was a leakage somewhere that was paying for the extravagance.
“If it costs as much as N50 million to hold a wedding party and we are organizing party and feting about 1,000 people every week, then something is wrong in that society. I think Nigerians should focus on that as well. We give honours to people who have demonstrated no honours. We reward people for work not done. Someone can become a Permanent Secretary without being at work. We cannot account for $20 billion,” he added.
Fashola said that there had been justifiable focus on the public sector in the fight against corruption, adding that the same should be extended to the private sector. Expressing doubts as to whether it was possible historically to prevent corruption, the governor noted that the session’s topic should perhaps had been focused on building institutions that would help in stemming the incidences of corruption.
According to him, it had become imperative to focus on corruption because the issue had reached a level at which the people must react, adding that it had reached a level where $20 billion was allegedly unaccounted for and no one could contemplate what would happen next. Underscoring the role of values and mind-set, the governor noted that in the Nigerian society, people sprayed and stepped on money at social events, adding that if someone could step on his own sweat, then it must be indicative of something being wrong. Edo State Governor, Oshiomhole said everybody must find his voice because if what accrued to the system was judiciously managed and Nigeria got value for money, everybody would receive appropriate compensation.
He stressed that every leader must be firm because a lot would change if the subordinates found out that the principal would take action against any form of inappropriate actions, lamenting that State officials appropriated more in state funds than a capitalist would earn in legitimate profit.
A former Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, Justice Mustapha Akanbi (rtd) emphasized that every political office holder, including governors must be committed if they intended to be successful in fighting corruption. He said that every political party or organization must include the issue of corruption in their manifestoes and that Nigerians must be insistent that anybody who would be in public office must be honest and transparent.
Another speaker and university don, Professor Akin Oyebode said corruption had become a life-threatening virus within the Nigerian polity which necessitated drastic action in order to save the patient from perdition. He described it as an unwarranted assault on the nation’s integrity which needed to be fought to a halt if Nigeria was to survive, adding that Nigeria had enough laws and institutions to combat corruption.
“Those in the frontline of the battle to exterminate corruption from the nation’s landscape need to be sufficiently motivated so as to wage the war to a successful end, adding that as patriotic and committed men and women, they can be trusted not to brook any act of malfeasance and untoward practices,” he said.