Civil society organisations and anti-corruption institutions yesterday vowed to strengthen their alliances against corruption by ensuring public officer’s greater compliance with the Code of Conduct Bureau, (CCB) regulation on asset declaration.
The rights groups issued a communiqué after an intensive one-day workshop on the theme ‘Mobilising Stakeholders for Improved Accountability and Good Governance Through Asset Declaration’ organised by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre) in Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom State.
The workshop, in collaboration with National Orientation Agency, (NOA) and the Code of Conduct Bureau, (CCB) is one in a series lined up by the anti-corruption group to raise the prospect of the campaign against corruption through inclusive grassroots participation.
The workshop noted that corruption cannot be isolated from economic exclusion and lack of opportunities especially for younger people and indigenous communities who daily face the difficult brunt of redundancy, poverty and associated despair even in the face of reckless display of ill-gotten wealth by public officials.
In the communiqué signed by the Chairman of HEDA, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, civil society organisations and the anti corruption institutions resolved to strengthen alliances and solidarity by increasing the tempo of working together, more than ever before, to promote public awareness and education on the activities of the CCB and the imperative of compliance by public officials.
The groups said it recognised that Declaration of Assets through the Code of Conduct Bureau and compliance of public officials is one of the most effective ways of fighting corruption as contained in Schedule 1 of the 1999 Constitution and resolved to further degrade, shame, uproot and eliminate corruption in public service, considering its grievous impact on sustainable livelihood.
The groups stated “The acquisition of illegal assets by public officials is not without the knowledge and collaboration of some bad elements in the civil service and financial institutions. It was observed that while inadequate remuneration and poor conditions of service are not justifications for collaborative corruption in the civil service, participants recognised and called for full implementation of the national minimum wage and improved conditions of service for civil servants most of who live below the poverty line.”
The participants expressed concern about the unimpressive funding and salary structure of the CCB workers, in the face of public high expectations and call on the Federal Government to address the operation and service conditions at the CCB to enhance effective performance.
It noted that the principle of Asset Declaration can be promoted through the family units, education institutions and faith-based organisations. These institutions should make the campaign against corruption a kernel principle of their teachings towards a new ethical order and moral renaissance in Nigeria in deed an in practice.
Participants at the workshop regretted the cobweb of legal obstacles weaved by political interests to whittle down the swift trial of suspects who flout the CCB regulations and therefore, called for the passage of all relevant legislation at the National and State levels that will ensure judicial reforms in favour of speedy, prompt and diligent prosecution.
It also urged the media to increase its capacity to constructively engage the dialogue on corruption with emphasis on Asset Declaration by public officials through investigative reporting and adequate follow-up mechanism.
The workshop was attended by representatives of various groups and institutions including but not limited to representative of Code of Conduct Bureau, Okokon Esien, Deputy Zonal Head, EFCC, Mr Alex Ebbah, The State Director, Nigerian Orientation Agency, (NOA), Mr Enoh Uyoh, Nigerian Labour Congress, (NLC) represented by the Vice Chairman Comrade Iboro Ibara, Prof Shehu Abdullahi, Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General, Akwa Ibom State, represented by DPP, Mr Joseph Umoren.
Others were Persons With Disability Action Network, Mr Emeka Bethram, Community Partners Development represented by Dr (Mrs) Nsekpong Udoh, the media, civil society organisations who gave remarkable goodwill and support for the workshop and its timely intervention given the current situation in Nigeria.