A former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday said Nigeria should invest more in education in order to curb corruption in the country.
Mr. Ribadu said if people were better educated, their ability to filter right from wrongdoing would attain an appreciable level.
“Education is important to this process. Citizens need to be sufficiently educated to be able to sieve right from the wrongs and demand for what is right,” Mr. Ribadu said.
The observation was amongst the 12 recommendations Mr. Ribadu proposed to solving Nigeria’s endemic corruption when he spoke at the 2016 Annual National Management Conference organised by the National Institute of Management (Chartered) in Abuja.
Mr. Ribadu, who spoke on the theme: ‘Minimizing Corruption in Public Life’, decried the pervasive graft in Nigeria and said the time to address the scourge is now.
“The big question is, how do we tackle corruption and minimize its cancerous spread on this our ladder that is public life? How do we stop the termites from eating off the parts that make up this ladder, that may stop our country from ascending to the Eldorado of progress?” Mr Ribadu said.
Education has remained a major concern for Nigeria, with UNICEF finding over 40 per cent of children between the ages of 6 and 11 out of school.
Mr. Ribadu also used his speech to urge transparency, saying an opaque public service is undesirable as it encourages corruption.
“Transparency should be the keyword in all government businesses; from budgeting to award of contracts and even employment. Lack of transparency is the first thing that sows the seed of corruption.”
“Honesty has to be lifted to the position of a prized and rewarding national value. Criminals should not be celebrated as heroes on account of their wealth.
“All government expenditures should be budgeted. Extra-budgetary spending should be criminalised and security votes should be completely phased out,” Mr. Ribadu said.
The 12 recommendations, which include a proposal on cash transactions, subsidies and deployment of technology for efficient procurement in the public service, are listed as follows.
- Leadership is essential. Leadership at all levels should be beyond reproach to provide the needed example. There should also be the will to apply the sanctions. As I have pointed out several times, lack of will by the political leadership to prosecute the war against corruption takes us to nowhere. The political leadership should be determined and it should be seen to be serious about it.
- Honesty has to be lifted to the position of a prized and rewarding national value. Criminals should not be celebrated as heroes on account of their wealth.
- All government expenditures should be budgeted. Extra-budgetary spending should be criminalised and security votes should be completely phased out.
- Transparency should be the keyword in all government businesses; from budgeting to award of contracts and even employment. Lack of transparency is the first thing that sows the seed of corruption.
- Smart technology should be deployed in procurement process to give room for transparent and accountable system of doing business.
- Cash transactions should be completely abolished or minimized as much as possible. With electronic movements of cash everything could be within watch and can be tracked.
- We should weed out corruption in our electoral process. If corruption thrives in the way leaders are brought to offices, we are indirectly bringing corrupt people to power and thus perpetuating corruption.
- The civil society and the media should be encouraged to be very vigilant and honest watchdogs of all systems. Whistle-blowers must be encouraged and protected.
- Red tapes and administrative bottlenecks in the bureaucracy should be tackled. Reducing unnecessary process will cut down tendencies of corruption as people need not to bypass established rules to accomplish any task.
- Subsidies should be phased out by the government to stop all the haemorrhage and abuse. As a discretionary intervention, subsidies on whatever service or product is very much prone to corruption by both the beneficiaries and those managing it, as we have seen with petroleum subsidy in this country.
- Education is important to this process. Citizens need to be sufficiently educated to be able to sieve right from the wrongs and demand for what is right.
- Lastly, at the root of achieving all these is a resolve by all Nigerians individually and collectively to not compromise. We must resolve to shun corruption entirely by taking a stand that ‘I will not take bribe again’ no matter the consequences. Time will come when there will be no takers!