By Emmanuel Udom
An intensified fight against corruption at all levels is needed for Nigeria to bring an end to COVID-19 pandemic, participants at a one day Anti-Corruption Situation Room (ACSR) meeting organised by the country’s leading anti-graft group said last weekend.
In their resolution at the end of the one-day summit organised by Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre) the groups said Nigeria is confronted with a twin problem of ending COVID-19 spread and also dealing with the dangerous economic and social fallback which includes dwindling national resources, loss of jobs and weakened capacity of government institutions to provide social services adding that the only way out is for Nigeria to end corruption.
The resolution at the end of an audio-visual meeting for 60 participants across the country and abroad urged all Nigerians to push all tiers of government to bring corruption, waste and ineptitude to an end as the surest way to guarantee sustainable development.
The event was the 19th Anti-Corruption Situation Room themed “COVID-19 Pandemic and the Necessity of Comprehensive Social Security in Nigeria: Focusing on the Health Sector” organised by HEDA Resource Centre with the support of UKAid, Upright Nigeria and the MacArthur Foundation among others.
The meeting was presided over by the Dean Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, Prof Ayo Atsenuwa.
The resolution made available by HEDA Chairman Mr Olanrewaju Suraju stated ‘We must begin to interrogate what happens to Nigerians in the post COVID-19 era.
It is certain that most countries including Nigeria may go into economic recession. People will lose their jobs. The wealth of individuals and the states will be badly affected. Available resources for states will reach an all-time low.
The saving grace is to work towards a transparent and open society where corruption will be a thing of the past. Without fighting corruption, the situation will be worse. Poverty and the number of poor people will increase which will threaten stability and overall development of the country”
The participants drawn from Nigeria and abroad called on the Federal and State Governments to ensure a people-driven budget process that will place emphasis on the essentials of life.
“We urge the Federal and State Governments and relevant institutions to strengthen the economic and social safety nets which includes provision of social insurance, primary health care and investment in agriculture to meet the essential needs of the people.
The participants called for a National Strategic Initiative that will tackle corruption at all levels, enhance greater budget monitoring and performance and create the framework for improved funding of public
The participants lamented the state of public health which includes poorly equipped public health institutions and lack of protective garments for health workers.
They frowned at ceaseless investments of Governments in private needs of politicians and the tradition of waste associated with government and its political actors.
The participants said fighting corruption must include a transparent electoral process that will produce only competent and efficient people committed to serving the people than working for parochial interests.
Some of the participants were Executive Director, Women Advocacy Reseach and Documentation Centre, (WARD-C),Dr Abiola Akiode, Prof Shehu Abdullahi, MacArthur Foundation represented by Mr Dayo Olaide, and resource persons were former General Secretary, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Comrade John Odah, former UN Rapporteur.
Others were: Prof. Joy Ezeilo, Former House Representatives Member, Dr Okediran Wale, Former Lagos State Commissioner for Environment, Dr Muiz Banire, Prof. of Law at University of Kent, Prof Gbenga Oduntan and Dr. Magashi Garba and representatives of print and electronic media.