The Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Center) and its international partners have set an agenda for President Bola Tinubu on anti-corruption in the country.
HEDA and partners urged Tinubu to decisively fight corruption to halt the country’s possible drift into a major economic crisis.
Mr Olanrewaju Suraju, Chairman, HEDA, disclosed this in a communique at the end of a two-day global anti- corruption conference held in Abuja.
Suraju said that the call become necessary as reports indicate that Nigeria loses about 60 billion dollars to corruption yearly
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event with theme “Nigeria and the Fight against Corruption: Reviewing the Buhari Regime and Setting Agenda for the Tinubu Administration” is organized by HEDA Resource Centre and Centre for Fiscal Transparency and Integrity Watch (CFTI).
The summit is coming at the 20 years anniversary of the African Union, AU Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption declaration which took place in July 2003.
Suraju said that available statistics show that Nigeria has a debt portfolio of N77trillion, inflation rate at 23 per cent, GDP at 2.35 per cent coupled with cases of graft by public officials.
He said that with the statistics enumerated above, a bold step was needed to be taken by the new government to block waste, stop corruption and recreate a new public confidence to save the country from social crisis.
The chairman said that some of the agenda set for the new Government is to fast track the whistleblower law, payment of backlog of royalties by oil companies, anti-corruption courts for speedy prosecution of corruption cases and the firm implementation of the public procurement law, and accountability on the part of political actors among others.
He added that the conference charged the National Assembly to affirm Nigeria’s readiness to join the international Special Task Force on Corruption to enable efficient recovery of illicit funds.
“Participants also listed the retrieval of billions of funds paid to phantom oil subsidy in the past years, oil theft, public funds stolen by political actors and a significant cut in the cost of governance as some of the critical steps that Tinubu needed to take to save the country,” Suraju said.
The chairman noted that there have been no reasons to believe that there was going to be any serious fight against corruption given the experiences in the past years.
He said Nigeria’s hope is rekindled by the iron cast will of Nigerians and the irresistible wind of change blowing against corruption across the world of which Nigeria cannot be an exception.
Suraju said there was the need to set agenda for constructive Civil Society Organisation (CSO) engagement with the new regime to develop the framework for good governance.
Suraju quoted Mr Femi Falana (SAN) as saying that billions of dollars are lost by Nigeria to oil theft and, also highlighted the refusal of oil companies to pay the total expected tax amounting to billions over the past years without sanctions.
He said that Nigeria has failed to put the mechanism in place to determine how many litres of oil are taken from the country’s onshore and offshore.
Falana, while delivering his lead presentation on the theme: “Effective Recovery of Illicit Assets and Blocking Opportunities for Illicit Financial Flow; Role of International Frameworks, Bodies, Courts and instruments in a context of new dispensation, said that Illicit financial flow is a challenge to Nigeria and the recent devaluation of Nigeria currency. Civil servants cannot live on their salaries which night draw them to corruption
Suraju also quoted the Managing Director of Nigeria Upstream Regulatory Commission, (NURC), Mr Gbenga Komolafe, as saying that a new equipment has been acquired by the commission that would monitor every liter of oil taken from Nigeria.
Komolafe said that the new initiative would create a paradigm shift in oil related revenue generation in the country.
Suraju quoted the National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu as expressing the commitment of the Tinubu-led administration to build the capacity of investigators as part of efforts to enhance the war against corruption in the civil service and Nigeria as a whole.
Represented by the Special Adviser, Legal Department, NSA, Mr Anthony Oluborode, Ribadu said that a cap will be placed on fiscal expenditures for construction of government buildings and salary related compensation and packages of elected officials.
He addad that such expenditure would have a low priority in the Tinubu-led administration and would be transparent.
Suraju said that dignitaries represented at the event were the Vice President Kashim Shetimma, Inspector General of Police, (IG), Mr Kayode Egbetokun, National Security Adviser, Mr Nuhu Ribadu, the National Assembly, the Judiciary and the Ministry of Interior.
“International partners, the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, the United States and Dutch Embassies, MacArthur Foundation, World Bank, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, labour, media and the civil society.
“Other participants were representatives of West Africa Association of Internal Audit Practitioners, Mr Noble Patrick Nzechukwu, Chartered Institute of Taxation, Samuel Olushola, Centre for Fiscal Transparency and Integrity Watch, Journalists for Democratic Rights, Adewale Adeoye, National Orientation Agency (NOA) Dr Garba Abari, Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Prof Sadiq Isah Rada (PACAC), Prof Jide Fowowe of the University of Ibadan, Hon Justice John Terhemba Tsoho.,” Suraju said.
The event was attended by no fewer than 80 participants from across the country, foreign countries and institutional bodies’ representatives.