Gentlemen of the Press,
The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) in collaboration with the Niger Delta Anti-Corruption Network (NIDAN), today join the rest of the world, to mark the WORLD ANTI-CORRUPTION DAY. Globally, the theme of this year’s event is Zero Corruption, 100% Development.” Locally, we are using this opportunity to formally launch the ‘fight CORRUPTION’ campaign!
The fight CORRUPTION Campaign aims to mobilize citizens to actively challenge cases of corruption and abuse of power in the Niger Delta particularly and the entire country. It intends to sensitize citizens of their human rights, empower them to demand their rights to meaningful participation in the planning, monitoring and tracking of budgets and to demand accountability and transparency from those involved in the provision of basic services to the people. Citizens need to understand how corruption undermines development and the delivery of basic services.
We remain convinced that the endemic and systemic nature that corruption has now assumed is a major driver of poverty and hunger, gross unemployment particularly of youth, crime and criminality and the associated unprecedented level and dimension of insecurity in the country.
A nation that allocates less than 30% of its budget to capital expenditure and over 70% to recurrent expenditure with poor budget performance amidst rampaging corruption is incapable of laying the foundation for sustainable infrastructural development, let alone meeting the basic needs of the citizenry, and providing basic services. This is why close to 12,000 abandoned infrastructural projects are littering everywhere across the country, costing 7.7 trillion naira with over 2.2 trillion naira already paid as mobilization fees. It is little wonder that the cost of doing business is unsustainably high, capacity utilization remains perennially low [under 40%], and poverty rate continues to hover above 69%. among the population. This situation is alarming.
We are concerned that majority of citizens in the Niger Delta and the nation at large are still ignorant of their socio-economic rights, making it difficult to hold leaders accountable in the provision of quality services.
Our research has shown that there is still a lack of meaningful participation of citizens in budget processes despite promises from the various state governments to promote good governance. Most citizens have never ever seen a local government budget; these are meant to be public documents so we can all participate in the budgetary process and ensure that monies allocated are used for the stipulated purpose. Access to local government budgets has been very difficult even for civil society organizations.
This year, Nigeria scored poorly yet again in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2013 made public by Transparency International; she ranked 144 out of 177, scoring 25 points out of a possible 100 points according to the latest TI report. Nigeria’s performance is worse than last year’s when she scored 27 points.
The impact of corruption in Nigeria is devastating especially in the oil rich Niger Delta; it has become epidemic. The funds allocated for the provision of quality education and healthcare delivery largely remain unaccounted for whilst the majority of the population live in poverty. Elitist minorities generate vast wealth through corrupt practices from large-scale embezzlement to petty bribery; thereby denying the citizens their rights.
According to the Nuhu Ribadu committee report, Nigeria over the last 10 years lost approximately $29bn to price fixing and contract scams involving oil and gas corporations. Additionally, Nigeria is owed over $3bn in royalty arrears by oil and gas corporations; while she loses $6bn per annum, at a theft rate of 250,000 barrels of crude oil per day to crude oil theft! This means that over the last 10 years, Nigeria would have lost a minimum of $60bn to crude oil theft alone!
We can only imagine what our country has sacrificed to the provision of basic services and infrastructures; employment generation and wealth creation, poverty reduction among others.
Just recently the aviation Minister Princess Stella Odua compelled the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, to purchase two BMW cars worth N255 million for her. As expected, the story went viral and everyone cried at the level of corruption and insensitivity of government to the plight of the people. And in the heat, all President Goodluck Jonathan could do was to set up a three man panel to probe the N255 million BMW cars scandal. As we speak today, the report of that committee has been handed over to the President, and nothing has being done about it.
Stella Odua is still the Minister of Aviation and still attends National Executive Council Meetings. This is to show you how our government is encouraging corruption.
The Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), has severally released damning reports on Nigeria’s extractive sector. The reports equally made specific recommendations on how to promote transparency and accountability in the sector, but the implementation of the recommendations in the reports has been a big challenge to the Nigerian government.
We therefore DEMAND AN END TO CORRUPTION IN NIGERIA. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
We call on all citizens to speak out publicly and join the fight against corruption in Nigeria.