Nigeria’s former Presiden,t Olusegun Obasanjo has lamented the poor prosecution of high-profile corruption cases by the country’s anti-graft agencies.
The former president said this in Abuja, Tuesday, while delivering an inaugural lecture at the Olusegun Obasanjo Good Governance and Development Research Centre, National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).
In a paper titled, “Leadership, Governance and the Challenges of Development in Nigeria: The Way Forward,” Mr. Obasanjo said corruption was still endemic despite efforts of successive governments in the country.
He argued that the lack of successful prosecution of high-profile corruption cases involving politically exposed persons was a matter of serious concern, not only to him, but also for Nigerians and the international community.
“We must take away the proceeds of illicit enrichment and remove negative role models in our society. I know that each arm of government has its responsibility and we must respect the separation of powers under our constitution,” he said.
“At the same time, we must have an acute and common perception of our problem and do all that is necessary to mitigate the impact of corruption in our society.”
While advising against buck-passing and name-calling, the former president urged Nigerians from all walks of life and the faith-based organisations including the churches and mosques to rise up and fight corruption.
He argued that the fight against corruption was not a popular agenda, but noted that its negative impact has made the war to be a measure of good governance.
“The aim of fighting corruption is most importantly, to remedy the dark sides of bad governance, such as poverty, unemployment, hunger and disease; as well as improving the well-being of the citizens,” Mr. Obasanjo said.
“Hence, we must pay equal attention to the economy which is the bedrock of all-round development.
“The beginning of getting leadership right is to make the electoral system transparent and credible to ensure that only the choices of the people are actually elected into electable political offices.
“People with integrity, vision, wisdom and purpose should be elected, not those who try to buy their way into leadership position.”
The former president called for the strengthening of institutions saddled with the job of ensuring transparency and accountability in governance.
Speaking also at the occasion, Vice Chancellor of NOUN, Abdalla Adamu, said the establishment of the Obasanjo Center was to solve the problem of leadership and good governance in the country.
He said the ceter was named after the former president because he was a success story in democratic governance in Africa.
According to him, Mr. Obasanjo demonstrated strong abhorrence for corruption hence the establishment of anti-graft agencies.
He said NOUN decided to immortalise Mr. Obasanjo because he resuscitated the institution in 2003, after it was abandoned in 1984.
“He introduced the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) bill.
“He also went ahead to establish Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the first of its kind in Nigeria.
“He established due process to ensure transparency and accountability, which transformed into Bureau of Public Procurement.
“He established the Financial Intelligence Unit which helped the Ministry of Justice in the recovery of stolen fund—the highest sum recovered so far was during his tenure.
“He is currently pursuing his PhD in NOUN; he is not pursuing it because he needs money or job but because he needs knowledge,’’ he said.