By Uche Anichukwu, Special Adviser (Media) to Deputy President of the Senate
The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has said that only holistic, even, and institutionalised approaches to the anti-graft crusade could guarantee success for Nigeria.
He said that although the recent drop by Nigeria in the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index was a huge blow to the nation’s anti-graft war, it should be seen as a wakeup call, which lessons must not be lost on the nation.
Ekweremadu spoke at an anti-corruption event organised by the Yar’Adua Foundation in Abuja on Monday.
He said: “A sincere and meaningful anti-graft war must be holistic. Nigeria cannot wage war against one type of corruption in isolation of the others and expect to succeed.
“We cannot also succeed in this all important war if we place a set of citizens above the law and if we accord red carpet reception back into office to some persons indicted or disciplined for corruption, while others are arrested before investigation, then tried in the media, and taken to court even on a stretcher.
“Such attitudes cannot mobilise the needed national and international support in the anti-corruption crusade. It can only breed more corruption by giving some people a sense of above-the-law and embarrass us before the international community”.
The Senator, who was represented by the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Works, Hon. Toby Okechukwu, further advised that anti-graft war should be hinged on the right legal framework and institutions, not the goodness of the leaders alone.
“We must build the relevant institutions and erect the requisite legal framework. Every arm and institution of government must play its part.
“I am happy to note that apart from exposing several corrupt practices in high places, the Senate has passed a number bills to institutionalise and strengthen the anti-graft war.
“They include the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill, which will assist the country to trace and recover looted funds; Witness Protection Bill; Whistleblower Protection Bill; Audit Service Commission Bill, and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit Bill. Most of these bills are actually private member bills.
“In the constitution amendment exercise, which is at the concluding stage, we are making efforts to create an Office of the Accountant-General of the Federal Government different from the Accountant-General of the Federation to ensure accountability. Furthermore, we are working on granting autonomy to the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation”, he concluded.