National Dialogue on Anti-corruption in Nigeria Communique
A One-Day National Dialogue on Anti-Corruption was held on July 25, 2023, in Abuja. The hybrid event was hosted under the ANEEJ-SCALE project tagged Enhancing Anti-corruption and Social Inclusive Reform Initiatives in Nigeria. The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) is implementing the SCALE project as the anchor for the anti-corruption cluster, working with eight partner Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) under the Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE) project, The cluster is working to promote anti-corruption and social inclusive policy reforms through multi-stakeholder initiatives at both national and sub-national levels in Nigeria, as well as promote reforms in the development commissions established by federal and state governments to develop the Niger Delta region. The SCALE project is a 5-year project being implemented by Palladium and its resource partnerswith funds from United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It is designed to enhance local civil society organizations’ ability to be positive and responsible change agents in Nigeria.
The cluster organizations working with ANEEJ on the project were drawn from Abia, Delta, Edo, Ondo, Imo States and the FCT. They are: 21st Century Community Empowerment for youth and Women Initiative, Abuja; Community Empowerment and Development Initiative (CEDI), Warri, Delta State; Community Heritage Watch for Development Initiative, (KAI) Akure, Ondo State; Christian Fellowship and Care Foundation (CFCF), Owerri, Imo State; Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy and Development (FENRAD), Aba, Abia State; Gender and Development Action (GADA) Port-Harcourt, Rivers State; Joint National Association of Persons with Disability (JONAPWD) Edo State Chapter; and New Apostolic Centre for Development (NCD), Benin City, Edo State.
OBJECTIVES OF THE DIALOGUE
The objectives of the Dialogue are in two major folds:
- To Set an Agenda for the new administration of President Ahmed Bola Tinubu on the way forward towards Tackling Corruption issue
- To discuss plans and priorities for the COSP10
The National Dialogue was attended by a wide range of stakeholders numbering over 50 from across members of the anti-corruption cluster, CSOs working on anti-corruption issues in Nigeria, journalists, representatives of anti-corruption agencies and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP). Other participants include the representative of Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), OGP National Secretariat, SCALE Project Team and other development partners such as the US Embassy in Nigeria, The British High Commission and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
At the Dialogue, goodwill messages, comments and recommendations were made by the following participants: Rev. David Ugolor, Executive Director, Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (A0NEEJ), Ms. Lydia Odeh – Chief of Party, Palladium SCALE, Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu, former Special Adviser on Justice Reform and International Asset Recovery to former President Buhari, Walter Quintanilla, Deputy INL Director, USA Embassy, Abuja, Mr. Mathias Huter, Managing Director, UNCAC Coalition, Prof. Sadiq Radda, former PACAC Executive Secretary, OGP National Secretariat, NAPTIP Director General, The British High Commission and Dr. Otive Igbuzor, Founding Executive Director of Centre LSD among others.
PRESENTATION OF REPORT ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF LONDON ANTI-CORRUPTION SUMMIT GLOBAL FORUM ON ASSET RECOVERY (The Nigeria Voice)
A special presentation was made on the implementation of the London Anticorruption Summit and GFAR commitments in Nigeria. The Report, which was launched by Dr. Mrs. Gloria Ahmed, National Coordinator, Open Government Partnership in collaboration with other participants. The report was presented by ANEEJ Executive Director, Rev. David Ugolor.
PRESENTATIONS, OBSERVATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Presentations were made during the two main Panel Discussions and on the following topics: Report on Key Anti-Corruption Reforms and Recommendations and Global CSO Expectations from COSP10, and the observations, recommendations made are below:
- That the current position of NEC and Nigeria State Governors’ that described the social register put together under the Buhari administration as not credible, is unhealthy and undermines the efforts by the civil society to support the government in the fight against corruption.
- That despite the progress being made in the fight against corruption by the government and civil society organizations, Nigeria is still rated high as 2022 CPI report ranked Nigeria 150 out of 180 most corrupt countries in the world.
- That CSOs including media practitioners in the country are not helping much to strengthen healthy information as fake news has become prevalent in the country.
- That some civil society actors are not doing enough and/or lack adequate capacity by way of understudying public documents on development issues, especially the Nigeria Social Register (NSR) and Cash Transfer programme and the public procurement processes and others.
- That there is long delay in the disposal of corruption cases that many offenders have taking advantage of the space to escape justice, and this is due largely to high level of interference by political office holders.
- There is inadequate support to civil society organizations around the fight against corruption due to the lack of openness and accessibility of the space to engage with government.
- That the positive results recorded by Nigeria at the global anticorruption summits and coalitions are due largely to the role of CSOs with less input from the government
- The passage of Proceed of Crime Act has provided Asset Recovery Architecture in Nigeria and policy support for Anti-Corruption Agencies.
- The upcoming UNCAC Conference of State Parties (CoSP10) is an opportunity for the international community and all stakeholders to step up global campaign to strengthen global financial system.
- The United State Government commitment as the host of CoSP10 provides opportunities to tackle the challenges of Beneficial Ownership, protection of civic space and grand corruption.
After an exhaustive discissions and deliberations on the above topics, the following were the recommendations from the National Dialogue on Anti-Corruption in Nigeria.
- That Civil Society should endeavor to tell their good stories and engage with government development programs as they affect the populace especially the success aspect of use of the social register for Cash Transfer Program, others, which some government officials have described otherwise.
- That civil society organizations need to develop a new comprehensive conversation around anti-corruption by beaming search light at the states and local government, and not only at the federal government. They should not be discouraged about criticism or attacks by those in position of authority.
- That the media should work more closely with the civil society organizations to develop and build their capacity on key areas of development needs as well as around whistleblower protection law.
- That CSOs should engage in more strategies and learning principles that will enhance their capacity to engage critical issues of corruption, especially as it relates to ethics and standards expectations in public procurement and good governance.
- That though a lot has been done, there is need to do more in the areas of judicial reforms through case management of corruption and criminal cases as well as advocacy for credible practitioners such as lawyers and judges in the system.
- Development partners, donors and CSOs should unite in supporting weak CSOs to deliver on key issues of development, such as anti-corruption and to build their capacity for effective engagement.
- That CSOs leaders should encourage and provide more space for government as partners in the fight against corruption by carrying out more advocacy to enlighten the government on the importance of the issues.
- The Federal Government should ensure the implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy and the Proceed of Crime Act.
- The Nigerian Government should provide leadership for Africa Union in the implementation of the AU Common Position on Asset Recovery (CAPAR) and the Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) Principles.
- The United States Government should provide support for the participation of civil society from developing Countries including Nigeria in the forthcoming UNCAC CoSP10 in Atlanta, Georgia United States.
Signed today July 25, 2023, in Abuja.
- David Ugolor
Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ
2. Mohammed Attah
Procurement Observation and Advocacy Initiative
3. Adekunle Lukeman Adefolahan
21st Century Community Empowerment for youth and Women Initiative