Corruption fight must begin from grassroots –CHRICED forum participants
By Muhammad Hamisu Abdullahi & Usman Gwadabe
The Northwest zone of the country is known for grappling with many challenges such as poverty, malnutrition, maternal and child mortality, forced child begging and low school enrollment leading to high number of out of school children.
The above challenges are just a few manifestation of the development crisis faced in the region, as enumerated by the Executive Director, Resource Centre for Human Right and Civil Education (CHRICED), Comrade Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullah.
Comrade Zikirullah stated this during a Northwest Stakeholders Consultative Forum on Social Norms Impacting Anti Corruption Fight in Nigeria in collaboration with Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) and support from DFID held over the weekend in Kano.
“The forum will enable us to identify these various social norms and interrogate their place.
“We also believe there are a number of helpful social norms, which reject corruption and frown at lack of accountability.
“This forum will give us an opportunity to bring these to the fore as a way of strengthening the fight against corruption.
“This will then form the basis for future intervention to address the monster of corruption, especially in the context of uses of recovered looted assets.
“When we hear billions missing from public treasury, we are quick to blame the politicians and those in positions of authority.
“While the action of corrupt public officers must be condemned at all times. At CHRICED, we find discussion about social norms very critical because it helps us assess ourselves and conduct as citizens.
“A good example of the cost of corruption at the grassroots level can be seen in the data provided by the ICPC Anti Corruption Academy of Nigeria.
“The academy stated that in August this year that Nigerians pay bribes worth N400 billion annually.
“A good chunk of those bribes would likely come from poor people trying to access public services like education, health and basic security,” Dr. Zikirullah observed.
He advised Nigerians to see the crisis as an opportunity, saying: “The burden is upon our shoulders as members of communities, associations, professional groups and opinion leaders to campaign relentlessly to ensure the democracy process delivers a better life for millions of our fellow country men and women.
“If we stand aside and do nothing about the problem of corruption, the consequence is that the poor development indices we are faced with today will remain.”
In his paper presentation on ‘Corruption in Northwest Zone: Overview of Actors, Action, Outcome and Gaps, a lecturer with Faculty of Law, Bayero University, Kano, Prof. Abdulmumini Bala Ahmad said corruption is internationally recognized as a social problem that led to instability and insecurity of societies as well as backwardness in socio-economic development thus undermining the values of democracy.
He said most people in the nation excelled when they left the country, saying that corruption was not in the institutions, but people at the grassroots.
The lecturer lamented that the laws and institutions could not solve the corruption problem facing the nation, emphasising that if people would disown corrupted persons at the grassroots, good governance would be sustained.
Prof. Ahmad stressed that corruption is the root that caused socio-political and economic problems to the people of the nation, adding that the menace had robbed the citizens of the country of development despite the nation being endowed with human, capital and natural resources.
He lamented that the country is still where it was 30 years back; noting that corruption at the grassroots level is threatening security of lives and property.
Prof. Ahmad added that another problem for the nation is lack of management, explaining that corruption is a dishonest, wicked, bad and an immoral act that affects the positive virtues of the society.
He cited late Malam Aminu Kano, the founder of Northern Elements Progressives Union (NEPU), who had two lanterns in his home – one for government and the other for himself, revealing that the late Malam only used that of the government when he would do an official work, but for private one, he only used his own just to avoid corruption.
He said the implication of grassroots corruption diminishes moral authority, increases inequalities, lowers the standard of living, increases institutional breakdown and criminality, as well as discourages investment.
The facilitator said if the trend should be eliminated, people at the grassroots must be courageous to raise their voices against any corruption.
Prof. Ahmad described youths as the right people to do the crusade as they are the greatest assets any nation can have, stressing that laws and policies must recognise grassroots because governance is for them.
He urged EFCC and ICPC to tackle corruption before it was done, rather than recovering corrupted money, calling on Ulama, clerics and stakeholders to assist in condemning bad practices among the citizens.
He decried how the nation has been rated as one of the most corrupt across the globe, saying that the menace was a threat to security, urging stakeholders to help in fighting it out of the nation.
On her part, DFID Regional Director, Hajiya Nafisa Ado extended pleasures to participants, noting that the fight against corruption is mandatory upon all stakeholders.
She said the nation has good virtues on its culture, but the values were gradually going down, noting that the money from donors used in the country was not up to one percent of the nation’s budget but the impact of such donation is very significant due to transparency and accountability in the fund’s implementation.
She said most of the corruption in the country was done by educated persons, but not illiterates, urging for good utilization of payers’ money so as to have rapid development in the country.
Earlier, Rev. David Ugbor from ANEEJ expressed delight with the turn up of the participants across the gender equality, hoping that the outcome of the forum would be useful for minimising corruption at the grassroots levels.
Peter Hassan, a participant, said in contemporary community, family members assist in corruption practices, through commendation of corrupted members and neglecting the descent ones.
In a goodwill message, the Assistant Director, Legal and Prosecution, Kano Office of EFCC, Mr. John Ojogbane noted most of the leaders of the country came from the region, asking why still there is no much development there.
He stressed that the people of the country should take their future in their hands, calling on them to fight the menace of corruption, describing it as a terrible thing that continues to retard the progress of the nation.
Mr. Ojogbane used the opportunity to call on the police and other security agencies as well as stakeholders to work together towards bringing corruption to an end in the society, stressing that if the menace is avoided, the nation would be free.
Malam M. K. Adam is a public relation officer of Civil Society Organizations in the state who said, as every body believes that there is high corruption in the country, public officers should commence publicising their expenditure via newspapers for monitoring towards ensuring corruption free governance.
Corruption fight must begin from grassroots –CHRICED forum participants
A traditional ruler, Sadi Ibrahim, who represented Ciroman Kano, Alhaji Nasiru Ado Bayero, the District Head of Nassarawa Local Government Area, noted that Ghana was ahead of Nigeria in corruption in those days, but currently there is a better living condition in that country than here contemporarily.
A women advocate in Kano, Hajiya Hadiza Bala Fagge, said fighting corruption in Nigeria is selective, demanding to know more about what anti-corruption agencies were doing on the $16 billion spent on power in the country.
Representative of Wazirin Kano suggested that people at the grassroots should embark on community planning so as to develop their areas.
Abdullah Abubakar from ICPC said for the agency to fight corruption at the grassroots, it introduced National Value Curriculum designed for education ministry to adopt for teaching at basic schools.
At the end of the forum each participant was asked to give hopes and fears of corruption in the society.
In her vote of thanks, CHRICED Contact and Mobilisation Officer, Hajiya Zuwaira Umar appreciated all those that took part at the event.