ActionAid Nigeria (AAN), an international not-for-profit outfit, has expressed concerns over the spate of allegations of corruption in recent weeks rocking many Nigerian institutions saddled with the responsibility of addressing the poverty problems in the country.
The group, in a report entitled ”ActionAid Nigeria’s Position on Taming the Gale of Corruption in Nigeria” seen by PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday, said the current trend of indictment corroborates its previous study that corruption contributes to the excruciating scourge of poverty in Nigeria.
”We are really worried about the allegations and counter-allegations of corruption and the indictment of institutions and individuals saddled with the responsibilities of addressing the excruciating poverty problems in the Niger Delta regions as well as other parts of the country.
”This current gale of accusations and indictments being experienced in the past one week further corroborates a study carried out by ActionAid Nigeria in 2015 revealing the strong correlation between corruption and poverty in Nigeria,” ActionAid said.
In recent weeks, allegations of corruption had rocked the anti-corruption agency, EFCC, Niger Delta Development Commission (NCDC), and the Nigeria Social Investment Trust Fund (NSITF).
For instance, the House of Representatives’ NDDC committee last week interrogated the acting managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission NDDC, Kemebradikumo Pondei, and the Niger Delta minister, Godswill Akpabio, over alleged financial recklessness and extrabudgetary spending at the commission.
Also in the EFCC, the acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu, who was recently suspended, is currently being investigated by a panel headed by Ayo Salami, former president of the appeal court, over allegations of graft and insubordination levelled against him by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami. Mr Magu was detained for 10 days before his release.
After his arrest, allegations that he diverted billions of naira of recovered funds as well as the interests accruing from the funds circulated in the media. Mr Magu has repeatedly described the allegations as baseless.
There was also an allegation of misappropriation of N48 billion in the NSITF. The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, made the allegations while appearing at an investigative hearing of the House of Representatives over the suspension of the management of the agency.
This development, the civic right group said, may stop Nigeria from achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The goal is the centerpiece of the current global development agenda for a world free of poverty and deprivation and where the fundamental conditions for human survival are safeguarded.
The SDGs have 17 goals and 169 targets, that include no poverty, no hunger, good health, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, renewable energy, good jobs and economic growth, innovation, and infrastructure.
ANN added that Nigeria’s leadership crises may also ”unleash a new marque of militancy, economic downturn, trust deficits in governments as well as heighten poverty, and exacerbate inequality gap.
”It appears corruption has taken a deeper root now manifesting
strongly in prebendalism, cronyism, contract splitting, diversion of funds, mismanagement, and misappropriation of scarce resources.”
ActionAid Nigeria said corruption should be perceived and addressed as an anti-development issue in the country.
”Governments at all levels should pay significant attention to social provisioning as a way of serving as disincentives for citizens to engage in corrupt behaviours.
”The Federal Government should implement all aspects of the Procurement Act, including constituting and inaugurating the National Procurement Council. State
governments should also enact similar laws, where they do not exist, and ensure effective implementation.
”The Office of the Attorney General should enforce compliance with the Freedom of Information Act across all Ministries, Departments, and Agencies.
”The Federal Government should ensure that all anti-corruption agencies are autonomous with functional boards for effective oversights and given all the powers and resources needed to discharge their mandates of fighting corruption.”