From Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
Ebonyi State government, in partnership with the Anti-Corruption Academy of Nigeria (ACAN) and Foundation for Transparency and Accountability, recently organised a one-day summit on anti-corruption. The major purpose of the summit was to sensitise stakeholders in the state on the need to become viable partners in the war against corruption, according to the provost of ACAN, Prof. Sola Akinrinade.
The event, which had the theme “Institutionalisation of Good Governance for Sustainable Development,” was held at the Akanu Ibiam International Conference Centre, Abakaliki.
Akinrinade said the need to enhance prevention as a strategy for tackling corruption had never been more urgent, given the developmental challenges confronting the nation in the face of dwindling resources.
Presenting his keynote address, the chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Ekpo Nta, a lawyer, lamented that corruption had caused unmitigated misery for the nation. He, however, expressed optimism that, with the renewed vigour with which the monster was being fought by the anti-graft agencies, the issue of corruption would soon be a thing of the past.
The ICPC boss disclosed that, with the recent approval of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS 2017-2021) by the Federal Executive Council, the anti-graft agency was better equipped legally to fight corruption to a standstill.
He pointed out that the NACS was targeted at identifying and closing gaps in current anti-corruption practices; institutionalising results-based systems and structures; providing or encouraging appropriate incentives for increasing and sustaining citizens’ participation in the fight against corruption, and adoption, ownership and ethical reforms by all stakeholders of the anti-corruption process.
Nta, while eulogising Ebonyi State government for mounting an anti-corruption war, advised the state to embrace social service mechanism that would promote the wellbeing of the people.
“Ebonyi State will be able to measure the success of its anti-corruption strategy by using the following indicators: affordable and good quality products from your factories and farms; excellent opportunities and facilities in the health and education sectors; high percentage of persons gainfully employed by the public and private sectors or self-employed; good intra and inter-state transportation; fair recruitment processes; protection of pension rights of senior citizens as well as responsive and well-motivated civil service,” he said.
In his speech, Governor David Nweze Umahi said his administration was making spirited efforts to maximally reduce corruption in the state.
“My administration has succeeded in resisting every move made by some unscrupulous politicians to mortgage the state for the next 100 years. Here in Ebonyi, we fight corruption with every blood that runs in our veins. It is only a foolish governor that would treat that matter with kid gloves,” he said.
Umahi, however, blamed the high level of hunger and poverty ravaging Nigerians as well as the poor salary being paid workers for promoting corrupt practices in the society.
“The poverty level in Nigeria is so high that many people find it quite hard to feed themselves. Workers are not well paid. Our social security system is not working. That’s why we advocate that people should learn a handiwork to support themselves. And to support those who did, we give out as much as N250,000 to enable such people start what they have learnt,” he said.
On his part, Akinrinade eulogised the Ebonyi State government for “demonstrating commitment towards entrenching integrity, probity and accountability in governance.”
He regretted that the numerous laws of the country have not deterred anyone from engaging in fraudulent activities, hence the need to activate prevention measures.
“When we consider the devastating consequences of corrupt behaviour on the part of those who are entrusted with our commonwealth, when we reflect on what could have been achieved if pilfered resources are applied to the purposes for which they are meant, then we are likely to appreciate more initiatives such as this summit,” he said.
The event also featured the formal launching of the anti-corruption crusade by the ICPC chairman, Nta.