A former aide to President Muhammadu Buhari on Financial Crimes, Justice Mr. Biodun Aikomo has lamented the level of corruption in Nigeria.
“The biggest problem Nigeria faces is corruption, as resources meant for everybody are in the pockets of individuals”, he said on Wednesday.
Mr Aikomo, who until recently was Senior Assistant to President Buhari, spoke in Lagos at a town hall meeting organized by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in collaboration with UKaid.
He said: “We must go beyond mere rhetoric and really join hands as citizens to fight corruption.
“If we wait for the anti-corruption and law enforcement agencies to fight corruption, we may not achieve much progress.
“As citizens, it is important to show courage to demand accountability from public officials.”
The NLC General Secretary represented by Mr. Benson Upah said: “To fight corruption, we must self deny, be courageous, do it in groups, in numbers lies our strength.
“Corruption can be prevented, (make sure it doesn’t happen), deterred (if it has happened, somebody must be made to pay the price). And we can encourage people not to engage in corruption. The citizens must now begin to take action.”
Mr. Newton Osetmaye of Action Aid Nigeria, said: “We need to go beyond rhetoric and meetings and look towards solutions. Citizens United against Corruption should move quickly to action. Once there is a critical mass of citizens taking action, we will be better for it. We need to resist corruption steadfastly.”
Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP deputy director, said: “The cost of not standing up for our rights is huge. Our governments and lawmakers have little incentive to fight corruption.
“Therefore, corruption in Nigeria won’t simply disappear without the citizens vigorously pushing for this to happen. We know that those who make change have to work for months or years to create change in the world.
“We all know corruption when we ‘see it’! Corruption is like a huge elephant sitting on this country. Nigeria has lost over $400 billion of public funds to corruption since independence in 1960. Corruption has increased the cost of achieving the UN Millennium Development Goal in the country, including on education, health, water and sanitation.”
“Millions of Nigerians cannot access or obtain essential public goods and services because of corruption. The benefits of the country’s natural resources are exchanged and shared among the politicians, the rich and well connected, excluding the less privileged, the socially and economically vulnerable in our country.”
“Mismanagement, embezzlement or diversion of public funds, for example, through ‘security votes’, constituency projects, ‘welcome package’ for members of the National Assembly further reduces the government’s resources available for development and poverty reduction spending.”
“Yet, if basic public services are not delivered to citizens due to corruption, the state eventually loses its credibility and legitimacy.”
“As the 2019 general elections in the country have shown, corruption in the political processes can undermine the rule of the people and thus the very foundation of democracy.”
“Working together and united as citizens, we can create substantial change and make corruption history in Nigeria. It is possible and with faith and courage, we can do it, as #CitizensUnited.
“Let’s begin to expose corruption right from our various communities and report cases to appropriate authorities.”
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