experts say corruption has kept
Nigerians poor even though the country has abundant mineral and human
resources. But ActionAid says it is
working to curb the problem. One way is by improving public support for
measures to fight corruption, like a recent protest in the capital, Abuja.
ActionAid joined the Nigeria
Labor Congress for the rally against corruption. Joining the call were market men and women, students, farmers,
artisans, and professional bodies.Oweh Lakemfa is the head of
information for the Nigerian Labor Congress.
"The essence of the rally," he says, "is
to draw attention to the problems of corruption in Nigeria, to ensure that
government does its own part by establishing a judicial commission of inquiry,
So far, the government has taken administrative steps so we want something that can compel people and to provide all
information available, and also to ensure that people are punished and we
think only a judicial commission can do that."
The government has yet to
comment on the suggestion to create a commission of inquiry.
ActionAid spokesman Otive
Igbuzor describes other steps the group is taking in the fight against
corruption and mismanagement.
"We have been doing a lot of
work on promoting citizen participation in the budgetary process." he says. "One of the
ways to deal with corruption is citizens' participation: if they are aware of
what is going on, they can prevent corruption."
ActionAid is helping public
officials and NGOs do that with a Center for Budget and Policy Advocacy in
Abuja and manuals to help train government officials and NGOs to monitor public
For example, the manual on public finance
analysis was used successfully by the Chugwui community in Jos south local
government area of Plateau State. With it, activists tracked one million naira,
equivalent to $8500:00 US dollars given to their elected counselor to buy a
transformer to provide electricity.
Igbuzor says ActionAid also
wants better laws to help fight corruption. Those already on the books, he
says, must be enforced.
"It is a complex phenomenon," he explains, "and fighting corruption has to be comprehensive starting from education through
legislation, it has to include components of enforcement and rehabilitation."
He says ActionAid is
promoting a comprehensive strategy and a new law to reduce fraud in Nigeria. A
lot of laws are on the books, but because of a lack of staffing or a lack of
political will, many are ignored.
ActionAid and other NGOs
take credit for helping the National Assembly pass laws to make public spending
more transparent. Among them are the
Fiscal Responsibility Act, the Procurement Act and the Neiti Act.
These Acts require due
process and transparency in business deals by oil producers and other
extractive industries, and in government run companies; they also call for
accurate reporting of revenues by the companies.
The NGO strongly supports the passage of Freedom of Information Act, which guarantees
the press access to government budgets and other information involving public
ActionAid hopes the fruits
of its efforts will be available for all to see: better governance, and economic growth.