A social justice non-governmental organisation, ActionAid Nigeria, has called on the federal government to hand down stiffer punishment for looters of the nation’s treasury.
The NGO working to combat poverty and all forms of injustice in Nigeria also called on the Nigerian Government to intensify its fight against corruption through inclusion of citizens in the fight.
Speaking in Abuja, the Country Director of the anti-poverty organisation, Ene Obi noted that “While it appears that the Nigerian Government is doing so much in fighting corruption, the just released Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2019 has contradicted the assumption that we are excelling in the fight against corruption.
“We do agree that the CPI report annually is based on perception, however, perception also help to validate the gaps that exist in the ways government relates with its citizenry.”
The report which ActionAid Nigeria says is revealing, shows how Nigeria has retrogressively slipped down in the hierarchy of 180 countries measured. “In the last two years Nigeria has slipped from 148 in 2017, made a slight progress in 2018 and now slipped down by 2 positions to 146 among 180 Countries. Nigeria’s score has placed her between 3 top scorers and bottom scorers in sub-Sahara Africa”.
The NGO which said it found the recommendations of CPI very useful especially in the area on citizens engagements said, “Governments should protect civil liberties and political rights, including freedom of speech, expression and association.
“Governments should engage civil society, and protect citizens, activists, whistle-blowers and journalists in monitoring and exposing corruption”.
AcrionAid Nigeria also observed that “these recommendations are valid as we have seen in recent times that the civic space is shrinking, Journalists are indiscriminately arrested and detained with frivolous charges, access to information is still very weak and social contract between government and citizens is still not effectively executed.”
It therefore recommended government should be more deliberate on citizen inclusion and engagements in the anti-corruption fight through sensitisation to mobilise a critical mass of citizens against corruption. This will eliminate the distrust and negative perceptions gaining momentum in citizens’ space.
“There should be more support in strengthening institutions with credible visionary leadership with the capacity to mold both the narrative and direction of the anticorruption efforts in Nigeria. There should be no political interference in execution of legislations and there should be clear-cut roles and responsibilities among relevant agencies in the fight against corruption.
“The Media should be more proactive with investigating the news behind the news. There should be an effective media engagement to generate more evidence through investigations of corrupt practices to stimulate public discourse. Civil Society Organisations should partner with the media like what ActionAid Nigeria did by providing endowment to the media to investigate and uncover hidden corrupt practices.
“Citizens should uphold values of honesty, integrity and transparency and should strongly take ownership of the fight against corruption in Nigeria,” Ene Obi said.