Participants in a one-day workshop on mobilizing stakeholders for improved accountability and good governance through assets declaration have identified bad governance and lack of transparency in assets declaration as being responsible for the high level of corruption in the country.
“Stakeholders affirm that across the country ,corruption is taking a high toll on human development with increasing devaluation of the quality of living and a decline in access to the essentials of life,’’ the participants noted.
In a communique at the end of the workshop, the stakeholders observers that Nigerians “are becoming despondent in the face of corruption by public officials across the country adding that they “are enthusiastic to see increasing fortunes in the creative ways of tackling corruption one of which is by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).
They noted that Corruption cannot be isolated from economic exclusion and lack opportunities especially for younger people, vulnerable communities like people with disability and indigenous communities “who daily face the difficult brunt of redundancy, poverty and associated despair even in the face of reckless display of ill-gotten wealth by public officials.”
According to them, the fight against corruption is undermined by “elements of despondency characterized by ethnicity, religion and parochial divisions fanned by primordial solidarity, while corruption is ethnic and religion neutral.”
They identified declaration of assets is a key component in the fight against corruption as contained in the Fifth schedule of the 1999 Constitution as the CCB in its 14 established rules, provided the legal framework for all public office holders regarding Asset Declaration.
“Nigerians are well known as outstanding custodians of high profile assets in Dubai, Europe, Asia and America whereas many of these asset owners are public officials who may have siphoned public funds for acquisition of private assets.”
It observed that the Code of Conduct Bureau has performed below public expectation in tracking illicit assets and the establishment of the Bureau remains one of the pillars of democracy in Nigeria and expressed dismay that public officials have continued to undermine, subvert and bypass the CCB rules through false declarations, phantom claims linked to questionable loans, in the face of the proceeds of corruption being increasingly used to acquire assets.
“Declaration of Assets through the Code of Conduct Bureau and compliance of public officials is one of the most effective ways of fighting corruption as contained in Schedule 1 of the 1999 Constitution,” the communique noted.
They therefore called on the people including the organised labour, the media, civil society and relevant anti-corruption agencies like the CCB, EFCC, the ICPC and other critical allies like the National Orientation Agency, (NOA), to “ work together to tackle corruption by ensuring public officials comply with transparent, meaningful and effective declaration of assets at all tiers of government. Activities to ensure compliance with the CCB will henceforth be replicated in local areas to ensure grassroots impact.”
While calling on civil society organizations and NOA to strengthen alliances and solidarity by increasing the tempo of collaboration, more than ever before, to promote public awareness and education on the activities of the CCB and the imperative of compliance by public officials, they alleged that the acquisition of illegal assets by public officials is not without the knowledge and collaboration of some bad elements in the civil service and financial institutions.
“While inadequate remuneration and poor conditions of service are not justifications for collaborative corruption in the civil service, participants however recognise the importance of workers’ welfare and therefore call for full implementation of the national minimum wage and improved conditions of service for civil servants.”
They also expressed concern over the unimpressive funding of the CCB in the face of high public expectations and called on the Federal Government to address the funding and service conditions of workers at the CCB for effective performance.
The workshop was organised by Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) in collaboration with National Orientation Agency, (NOA and Code of Conduct Bureau while the communique was endorsed by Olanrewaju Suraju, chairman of HEDA and Shehu Abdullahi, chairman of the workshop.