The Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) Resource Centre, Centre for Fiscal Transparency and Integrity Watch (CFTI), local and international partners, recently convened a Conference to set the anti-corruption agenda for the new administration to decisively fight corruption in the country at the two-day National Anti-Corruption Conference which took place on the 11th and 12th of July, 2023 in Abuja, Nigeria. The event themed “Nigeria and the Fight against Corruption: Reviewing the Buhari Regime and Setting Agenda for the Tinubu Administration” was structured based on the need for the new government to take bold steps towards blocking wastage, stopping corruption and recreating new public confidence to save the country from social crisis. The Conference which is coming at the 20TH year anniversary of the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption of July 2003, was attended by over 80 participants from across the country and abroad.

Prof. Deji Adekunle SAN, Chairman of the First Working Session  and other Panelists listen to Mrs Ayo Obe the Lead speaker

In a Keynote address, the National Security Adviser, Mr Nuhu Ribadu who was represented by the Legal Adviser of the ONSA expressed commitment to the Tinubu-led administration to build capacity of investigators, as part of efforts to enhance the war against corruption in the civil service and Nigeria as a whole. He further maintained that a cap will be placed on fiscal expenditures for construction of government buildings and salaries related compensation, packages of elected officials, adding that such expenditure will have a low priority in the Tinubu-led administration and transparent

HEDA Chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, noted that there has been no reason 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.

Mr Femi Falana, (SAN), 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 might draw them to corruption.”

Also, while speaking at the event, the Managing Director of Nigeria Upstream Regulatory Commission, (NURC) Mr Gbenga Komolafe, said a new equipment has been acquired by the commission that would monitor every liter of oil take from Nigeria adding that the new initiative will create a paradigm shift in oil related revenue generation in the country.

Sessions of the first day were chaired by Professor Adedeji Adekunle, SAN, the Research Lead of Juritrust Centre for Socio-legal Research and Documentation with several lead speakers and panellists featured on diverse topics from curbing IFFs, impact of corruption on women and vulnerable groups, investigative journalism to whistle blower protection and the criminal justice system. Some of the agenda set for the new government include fast tracking the whistle blower law, payment of backlog of royalties by oil companies, anti-corruption courts for speedy prosecution of corruption cases, firm implementation of the public procurement law, accountability on the part of political actors among others. The Chairmen commended organisers of the Conference while urging that the recommendations of the Conference be widely disseminated.

The Conference reviewed the scorecard of the Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in the anti-corruption fight and highlighted some positive measures such as the trial and conviction of some former Governors and PEPs, the passage of the laws on management of proceeds of crime and steps taken to trace and recover illicit funds in foreign countries. However participants noted commitment to the anti-corruption fight was low on the part of high ranking officials and that so long as anti-corruption strategies are not institutionalised and mainstreamed into administrative and governance framework not much progress will be made. The National Assembly was charged to affirm Nigeria’s readiness to join the International Special Task Force on Corruption, SATF to enable efficient recovery of illicit funds while the Civil Society Organisations were urged to monitor State and local governments in the anti corruption war.

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, Ministry of Interior and 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.

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