A certain book The End of Power, and by Moises Naim has highlighted the role of stakeholders in dismantling traditionally held beliefs, attitudes and norms arrogated to big armies, big institutions and big corporate institutions. With the coming elections in 2019, and with the power play already taking a certain turn in the form of coalitions and counter-coalitions, aided and abetted by corruption, the Africa Network for Environment & Economic Justice, ANEEJ Anti-corruption Centre, ACC, conducted a public lecture tagged Mainstreaming Anti-Corruption Campaign in 2019 General Elections, funded by the DfID.
The lecture which took place on Wednesday 19th September 2018 had a most erudite lecturer, Professor Eddy O. Erhagbe, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Professor of History & International Studies and Diplomacy, from the University of Benin, Benin City, held the about 80 participants spell-bound with his grasp of the issues participants were eager to hear. His 32-page treatise examined the role of corruption in elections and what stakeholders can do to demystifying the power of corruption over free, fair and transparent elections. Prof Erhagbe highlighted the essence of democracy and good governance, problems of voting in Nigeria which often results in a negation of the ideals of a viable electoral system in Nigeria, a dislocation of the social and political order and the crisis of development in Nigeria.
The public lecture chaired by Innocent Adjenughure, executive director of the Institute of Dispute Resolution, and supported by the Conference of NGOs in Edo State President, Madam Abiola Idufueko, had in attendance Igbotako Nowinta, member ANEEJ board of Directors. It also had an audience comprising the media, market women representatives, youth groups, and traditional and religious bodies, most of whom engaged the lecturer and interrogated pertinent issues related to the vote-buying phenomenon, security and the relevance of the Personal Voter Card, PVC.
In an address, ANEEJ executive director who was represented by his Chief of Staff Mr Kola Giwa said that
For over two decades, ANEEJ has tenaciously expended its human and material resources on addressing identified challenges that tend to undermine social, economic and environmental development in Nigeria. One such well-known challenge is corruption that has eaten deep into our socio-economic and political system. For Nigerians to fare better, those who got elected into positions of authority must make anti-corruption crusade the pivot of governance. It is also imperative that this perspective is shared by all. Every available opportunity to wage the anti-corruption war must be seized to sanitise the system. One such opportunity currently presenting itself is the next general elections.
A key takeaway from the public lecture was the admonition from the lecturer to participants to actively participate in the 2019 general elections. ‘There is corruption everywhere in the world. But what makes the difference is how certain countries deal with it’, Prof Erhagbe said. He also tasked the audience to avoid selling their votes.
Among his recommendations, the Professor said government should show greater commitment to meeting the needs and expectations of Nigerians and tackle unemployment hunger and insecurity. He said that all hands must be on deck and that Nigerians must reject those who seek to corruptly manipulate elections.