By Ade Olu
Widespread belief holds that corruption tightly binds Nigeria, hindering its growth and impeding development, stripping the nation of the potential benefits of its abundant natural resources.
The Federal Government of Nigeria has undertaken numerous initiatives to combat this pervasive issue, establishing institutions like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission or EFCC, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Matters Commission or ICPC, and the Code of Conduct Bureau.
Regrettably, despite these efforts, the country’s Corruption Perception Index or CPI remains disheartening. In the 2022 CPI, Nigeria occupies the 150th position out of 180 countries, reflecting a slight improvement from its 154th ranking in 2021.
This underscores the inadequacy of governmental measures, emphasising the imperative for non-governmental organisations to step in. Several have answered the call, intervening in diverse ways to minimise corruption to its utmost extent in the country.
One such organisation sustaining the anti-graft fight is the University of Nigeria Nsukka Muslim Community or UNNMC, under its campaign “Promoting Accountability and Anti Corruption through Behavioural Change Approaches.’ The programme supported by the MacArthur Foundation is being executed in conjunction with Mambaya House, Aminu Kano Centre for Democratic Studies, Bayero University, Kano.
During one of such interfaith advocacy meetings with stakeholders in Awka, Anambra State Capital, the Director of UNNMC, represented by the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Salau Sikiru, stressed the need for religious leaders and organisations to lead the campaign against corruption by ensuring strict adherence to the dictates of the holy books.
“If we obey the dictates of the Holy Bible and Holy Quran, we will have less to battle against corruption. We invited you to tell you that you have a great role to play in the fight against corruption,” he said, adding that religious leaders must live by example as “Both Muslims and Christians must remember the day of accountability when we shall give an account of our lives to God”.
A Christian clergyman, Reverend Isaac Opayinka, described corruption as a disease that leads to backwards. “It dashes the future of our country. Today, everyone wants to leave Nigeria, especially the youths”.
Opayinka held that “Corruption and its havoc affect religions and tribes. Joblessness in Nigeria is a product of corruption. Also, today, we battle with insecurity because corruption has taken centre stage”.
He maintained that corruption is an attitudinal weakness which only a few people have overcome. “Everyone can be corrupt, but a few have chosen not to be. Tackling it begins with the individual and the family. A man needs God to overcome corrupt tendencies. It is the spirit of God that helps a man to live above corruption. If the fight against corruption does not start from individuals, it is a waste of time,” Opayinka submitted.
In the view of a Muslim cleric, Abass Abubakar Aliyu, religion is meant to guide man against ungodly conduct. “Unfortunately, this is not happening in our time. Corruption has entered the churches and mosques, and we seem to be helpless. Corruption, which is the misuse of resources under people’s custody, can stop a man from gaining heaven,” Aliyu warned.
The event featured an interactive session during which participants shared their personal experiences with corruption in various spheres of life. They stressed the need to save the future by catching the children young with the right messages that discourage wealth without virtues.
Participants were drawn from the Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria, FOMWAN, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Muslim Corpers Association of Nigeria, MCAN, among others.