By Maryam Ado Haruna.
Introduction:- Nigeria is a well-endowed country with rich natural resources. Successive governments in the country have been unable to convert these resources into providing the necessary infrastructure and systems that would transform these resources to support economic development and assure citizens a quality of life. While both government and citizens are agreed about corruption being a key factor in the protracted impoverishment of the citizens, governments too have failed to be accountable to the citizens while citizens have not been successful in holding elected public officers accountable. Accountability is key to ending corruption in the country. Since accountability is a transactional issue, citizens’ demand for it must be strategic, by incentivizing it and dis-incentivizing corruption through electoral action that makes duty bearers deliver sincerely on election campaign promises. It is for this reason, Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), with Support from MacArthur Foundation organized a one day forum for social influencers and media to interface with political parties and actors. The Party in attendance include, KOWA party, Accord, Labour party and PPA. The efforts put I place to get the two major political parties in Nigeria (PDP and APC) proved abortive.
Objectives of the Interface
- To bridge up the social influencers and political parties and actors in order to provide a forum through which the social influencers working anti-corruption and accountability can directly interact with the political parties and actors. This is to enable the social influencers to find out as well as generate a vast understanding on what politicians think of anti-corruption and accountability, and how they integrate or plan to integrate it into their political activities before, during and after election.
- Secondly, during this interface, political parties were expected to share their ideas and programmes on anti-corruption, how they think it and be tackled and ways to ensure and deepen accountability in the country.
- Social influencers were expected to understand how they can track the responsible political office holder in order to make them accountable to their people during their time in offices
Activities during the Meeting
- Opening remarks
An opening remarks was given by the Dr. Tunde Misbau Akanni who represented the Executive Director of CITAD, Dr. Yunusa Ya’u, and also chaired the meeting. He welcomed everyone and thanked them for attending the meeting. He also made a brief on the project where he stated that the 2019 has provided us with an opportunity to place anti-corruption and accountability on the agenda adding that we need to get a buy-in of the decision and policy makers to institutionalise anti-corruption and accountability. He explained that the project is a messaging project that leverages the reach of the social influencers and other individuals such as activists, bloggers, poets and writers to advocate anti-corruption and accountability. Attention is also given to gender, age geography and diversity with the intention of increase pressure on political parties.
- Statement of Neutrality and Non Partisanship
Since CITAD and the social influencers working as the sub-grantees are nonpartisan, a statement of Neutrality and Nonpartisanship was issued by Odoh Diego Okeyedo of Splendors of Dawns. He explained that the social influencers strive to provide neutrality in their messaging as much they could. It is already cleared to them that MacArthur Foundation do not and will not support partisan activities and will hold any social influences responsible if he/she uses MacArthur’s funding for partisan activities. He added that neutrality doesn’t mean that they are apathetic or indifferent, it is to endeavour to not only represent the opinions of one political party. By being partisan is to declare or express a political affiliation to as part of the project activities.
- Brief Presentations from Political Parties
Four Political Parties attended the interface. They are, Kowa Party, Labour Party, Accord and Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA). They gave brief presentation on their parties’ ideas and programmes on anti-corruption, how they think it can be tackled and ways to ensure and deepen accountability in the country:
- Labour Party by Akingbade Oyelekan (National Legal Advisor)
He explained that there is emphasis on anti-corruption and accountability in their party’s agenda. He mentioned that there are accountability guidelines for fund generation as well as in presentation of candidates. The legal advisor also explained that his party believes that current fight against corruption is insincere and biased and was deliberately designed for failure.
The party’s strategy to fight corruption include sincerity in communicating plans to the electorate and a realistic manifesto which doesn’t make false promises to electorate.
- Progressive People’s Alliance by Kehinde Edun(National Secretary)
According to him, it is clear that the internal affairs of a country can have a huge effect on other countries, and selfish interests of political actors also affects its quest for accountability. The high rate for the price of forms by political parties encourages corruption, but PPA makes its forms affordable for political aspirants. Candidates are also cautioned on anti-corruption and following of due process. There is a need to inculcate honesty in children from birth. There is a need for all Nigerians to engage themselves in political activities to ensure accountability in the process.
- Accord by Muhammad Lawal Nalado (National Chairman)
According to him, citizens needs to support the government in the course by fighting corruption in their immediate environment and also try to change themselves at their level. He added that fight corruption is everyone’s responsibility.
- KOWA Party by Mark Adebayo (National Secretary)
In his presentation the National Secretary explained that in their party manifesto, only credible and capable Nigerians can contest for positions. He added that KOWA believes that there should be proper accountability of assets seized by anti-corruption agencies. He mentioned that in order to appropriately fight corruption in Nigeria:
- The immunity given to political officers must be removed; he urged media and CSOs to advocate for the removal of such.
- Another step he mentioned was the application of technology to anti-corruption mechanisms such as amplifier based system to prevent the incidence of ghost workers in the civil service.
- They must also be a proper tracking of public office holders.
- Anti-corruption agencies must also be independent and free from any form of influence.
- Another step is the removal of plea-bargaining, establishment of special court for corruption cases. A proper sanitization of the civil service.
- All candidates’ record of corruption should be traced in the forthcoming elections so that they should not be voted.
- GENERAL OBSERVATION
Following presentations and deliberations, participants observed and raised concerns as follows:
- Corruption starts from our various homes
- There is mismanagement of funds from our political parties
- By granting immunity to some political office holders the Nigerian constitution inhibits the fight against corruption in the Executive arm.
- There are lots of biases in the court of justice.
- Nigerians celebrate and normalize corruption, which explains why every politician found to have corruptly enriched themselves are not ashamed to be known for their ignoble acts.
- Many youths are apathetic to political activity as they feel their opinions and votes don’t count.
- The government has failed to provide our children with standard schools, but they can afford to build private ones which only the riches can afford to attend
- The high rate of forms of political parties encourages corruption
- There is need to inculcate honesty in citizens from birth
- Interest of international community shows that the internal affairs of a country can have a huge effect in other countries.
- Political Parties should make forms affordable for all aspiring candidate
- The huge monetary benefits for public offices is a boon to corruption
- The political candidates should scrutinize candidates first and avoid money bag politics.
- Governance should not be left for politicians and the leaders, but the people, especially women and youths should participate in governance
- Social influencers should use their influence through the mass and social media as a means of communication to salvage our nation
- There should be clear a reward and punishment systems for corruption
- There should be transparency in recovery and return of looted funds
- The Nigeria constitution needs to be reviewed
- Impunity should be remove for all political leaders
- Application Technology to reduce or eliminate corruption
- Property tracking of public office holders
- There should no executive interference in issues of anti -corruption bodies
- There should be introduction of anti- corruption court
- We need transparency in recovering, recording and returning loot fund
- There’s need for all Nigerians to be engaged in the political process
Social Influencers that attended the meeting
- Jide Ojo
- Adagbo Onoja
- Odoh Diego Okenyodo
- Danlami Nmodu
- Olamide Olaniyan