The Attorney General of the Federation on Thursday explained the effect of corruption on Nigeria as harmful, claiming this notifiedthe present administration’s resolve making the battle against the despair a leading concern.
While speaking in Abuja at the anti-corruption summit, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the federation, Abubakar Malami, on Thursday, described the impact of corruption on Nigeria as life threatening, saying this informed the present administration’s resolve to make the fight against the malaise a top priority.
The minister who spoke at the event organised by the Federal Ministry of Justice in collaboration with Open Society initiative for West African (OSIWA) and ONE Campaign, said reports have shown Nigeria as one of the poorest countries in the world with income per capita of less than $500, with over 54 per cent of its over 170 million population living in absolute poverty as a result of corruption.
“One out of every five Nigerian children dies before his or her fifth birthday, while one out of every three is malnourished. Only 64 per cent of school age boys attend primary school and only 57 per cent of girls attend primary school. Thus, corruption remains a major driver of poverty in Nigeria,” Malami said.
He said the impacts of corruption on Nigeria could be identified through a review of different sectors of the economy showing that it has led to the unproductive use of resources to undermine the state’s capacity to fulfil its obligations to citizens.
“The resultant capture of public resources by vested interests undermines economic growth, governance, security and development. Thus, weak accountability and corruption are core governance issues in Nigeria,” he pointed out.
The minister said President Buhari since assumption of office, has made every effort to build on and expand on the initiative of the previous governments to tackle corruption by prioritising the recovery of stolen funds and to pay back to the Nigerian society what have been lost to corruption.
Although he said significant progress has so far been made in the country’s anti-corruption performance, he said it was closely linked with the justice sector reforms to prevent the way corruption could undermine the country’s justice system.
“Corruption may impinge on proceedings at all stages and undue influence may affect the process of investigation and prosecution; the handling and hearing of cases in the courts, including the treatment of witnesses; the implementation of sanctions and sentencing practices; and the recovery of illegally gained assets in a way that limits international cooperation,” the minister said.
He said an analysis of corruption in the country suggests a patronage culture evolving around a powerful elite that is in control of oil revenues and would do anything to maintain the status quo.
With weak systems of accountability, he said corruption has become embedded and accepted as part of life in Nigeria, with a widespread culture of corruption and impunity at all levels.
To ensure effective fight against corruption, Malami said the government established various agencies, including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).