By Rafiu Ajakaye
Nigeria’s leading political parties presented Tuesday their strategies to combat rising corruption in the country, seen by many as the root cause of worsening poverty, underdevelopment and spiking crime rates.
The meeting in the capital Abuja was organized by the pan-West African civic group, Center for Democracy and Development (CDD).
The event, titled the #BigDebate on corruption and accountability, was also attended by representatives of NGOs, news media and members of the diplomatic community.
"Corruption is one of the deciding issues in this election, and it is important we interrogate how political parties intend to wage the war against this hydra-headed monster holding back development in the country," Hassan Idayat, CDD's, told Anadolu Agency.
Nigeria’s general elections are scheduled for February 16 and the issue of corruption is the main battlefield where the ruling All Progressives Congress and the main opposition People's Democratic Party trade tackles mostly on who is guiltier of corrupt practices and impunity.
Lately, the incumbent chief justice was pressed charges over nondisclosure of assets and his foreign accounts amid claim of a witch-hunt by the opposition.
CDD said the country must institutionalize the war against corruption.
"Importantly, we must institutionalize the fight against corruption. Fighting corruption doesn’t mean we should not adhere to the rule of law," Idayat added in apparent reference to claims that Buhari’s anti-graft campaign has not followed due process.
"[However], the people asking for corruption to be brought back do not understand the impact of corruption on development and that is why we are now utilizing the behavioral approach in dealing with the issues of corruption."
In a statement announcing the debate, the civic group said efforts to combat corruption in Nigeria have yielded little success as officials continue to fail transparency and accountability tests.
"Evidence suggests that corruption in Nigeria predicates on the inability of successive governments to create an avenue for openness and transparency in its activities, promote accountability and possess the political will to deliver good governance," according to the group.
"Ahead of the 2019 general elections, it is imperative that leaders of political parties and their presidential candidates are engaged in robust conversation on their preferred policies and programs to rid the country of corrupt practices. It is against this backdrop the Center is organizing a #BigDebate."
United Nations Development Programme said in a recent report that over $400 billion have been lost to corruption since 1960 when Nigeria gained independence.
Previous and present governments in Nigeria have been accused of official corruption.
A Transparency International report in 2018 said corruption perception worsened between 2016 and 2017 in the country.
Nigeria ranked 148 out of 180 countries assessed in 2017 on the perception of corruption, the annual Corruption Perception Index by the global watchdog group had stated.
The government had blamed the perception on a failure of the parliament to pass key anti-graft legislation.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.