By Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku & Ovie Erhisowode
The National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) held a one-day stakeholders meeting on the Successful Implementation of the Anti-Corruption Strategy at the Transcorp Hilton hotel Abuja on July 27, 2017 with a vision to have a Nigeria free of corruption for sustainable human development. The meeting was aimed at providing a holistic National Anti-Corruption strategy for all sectors and stakeholders in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
Participants were drawn from various Ministries, Departments, Agencies and Civil Society Organizations. The National Strategic Guide was reviewed along five pillars pointed out as the areas of focus in the road map of the anti-corruption strategy of the Federal Government. They are Recovery of Proceeds of Crime, Public Engagement, Enforcement and Sanction, Campaign for Ethical Re-orientation.
Reviews indicated that the Federal Government approved the National Anti-Corruption Strategy on July 5, 2017 and has been facilitated by the UNODC since 2009. Attendees learnt as well that the Federal Government has established three committees in the Implementation of the National Anti-Corruption strategy: the Ministerial, Technical and the Monetary and Evaluation Committees.
A critical part of these strategies include a plan for funding. If there are plans and no plans to fund them, then there are no plans as a matter of fact. And, therefore, if indeed law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies will have their implementation strategies embedded in the annual budget, we believe that it would give great fillip to external funders to buy into the implementation plan. From that point, the Attorney-General of the Federation should be able to develop and propose an Anti-Corruption Funding Framework (AFF) for consideration and ratification of the Federal Executive Council. Central to information gleaned from the one-day meeting is the plan of the Attorney General of the Federation to develop a road map which the Anti-Corruption and Transparency Unit, ACTU, will use to drive the implementation processes. The road map is said to focus on consultations with the Local Government, Faith-Based Organisations (FBOs) and Community-Based Organisations (CBO), use of media activities like the press, social media and public engagement. Interaction among groups present at the meeting indicated that the strategies being implemented may run into trouble if the public is not carried along. Any plan to combat corruption must have political will, funds and public acceptance Otherwise it will be dead on arrival.
For the public to be engaged and sufficiently enlightened, the anti-corruption strategy must include pro-active disclosure of information on websites of some ministries, departments and their agencies. These days, whenever anyone visits these MDAs, all you find is stale or non-existent information. Otherwise, information on the websites of these MDAs is what would help in the enlightenment of Nigerians. It helps them know what they have to demand for. It helps them to know that they have a right to demand for what belongs to them from elected leaders.
On the long term, however, it will be useful during the implementation phase of an anti-corruption strategy for sensitization and engagement of Traditional and Religious leaders to be sustained. This part of the work should go to the National Orientation Agency, (NOA), which should sustain its involvement in the accountability strategies of reporting and a compilation of mobile phone numbers of relevant stakeholders. Most people have proposed the setting up of anti-corruption clubs in secondary schools and tertiary institutions. They have asked the Ministry of Education to include corruption as a subject in school curriculum or lay more emphasis on it if merged with civic education.
These are valid suppositions, and we support them all. However, there is another area which the anti-corruption strategy implementers have been overlooking. It is the use of audio-visual methods – short videos, podcasts and, most importantly, Nollywood. Our ‘home’ videos are seen in every village, hamlet, and towns, and they cut across the three large ethnic groups. Our videos are known to have cut across the African landscape like a hot knife through butter.
No Nigerian Embassy or delegation from Nigeria has had the power to sell Nigeria and Nigerians to the world like our home videos. Therefore, if indeed the implementers of our anti-corruption strategy want to get outcomes that are deliverable, and to engage Nigerians so that they can buy into the anti-corruption fight of the Federal Government, mere setting up of anti-corruption clubs in schools, updating of websites and issuance of heavily-worded press releases will not do.
During the colonial time, the British often used movies, set up in the villages and towns, to try to convert our forefathers to Christianity. And they succeeded – look at how churches spring forth every day in Nigeria.
Implementers of our anti-corruption strategy must begin at once to liaise again with the NOA and in conjunction with the Ministry of Information, to produce short skits and 5-minute videos focusing on themes and memes carefully wound around values upon which communities in the grassroots hold in high esteem.
One of our German friends once told us of the efficacy of 2-3minute skits shot on mobile phones. He said that they then uploaded these on YouTube resulting in unprecedented feedback. We believe that if we are able to fund the production of similar podcasts and skits, they can be shown in the local communities more affected by cases of neglect and lack of development.
If the communities know of a fact that their inability to access primary health care, good roads and power is because one of theirs has dipped his fingers in monies meant for their community, they would be unwilling to honour these people with chieftaincy titles.
Etemiku & Erhisowode write from ANEEJ.