The Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA) with support from the Macarthur Foundation has launched #BounceCorruption in Lagos, an initiative that is designed to mobilize citizens especially youth to lead the war against corruption and impunity as well as hold public institutions and officials accountable at the local and national level. The project seeks to build resistance against corruption by exposing corrupt practices and demanding prosecution of indicted suspects.
Through #BounceCorruption, YIAGA will establish resource platforms effective anti-corruption campaigns and public outreach. The platforms will promote anti-corruption efforts by other stakeholders fighting against corruption and promoting public accountability. More importantly, #BounceCorruption will aspire to inculcate the values of integrity, patriotism, transparency and accountability in citizens. #BounceCorruption will facilitate collaboration and networking with different stakeholders involved in the campaign against corruption and impunity in Nigeria.
Samson Itodo, executive director of the group noted that decades of institutional weakness and bad leadership have fueled rent seeking behaviors and corruption in Nigeria. The return of democracy in 1999 birthed new reforms and anti-corruption programs by former President Obasanjo to clean the public service and stop the hemorrhage in public resources. But ‘politics’ and political calculations soon short-lived many reforms and the anti-corruption program. Under the immediate past administration, corruption reached new heights due to the reluctance of the state to combat the menace.
According to him, Nigeria is experiencing an unprecedented resurgence in the fight against corruption under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration. The present administration has demonstrated strong will to fight corruption through the prosecution of high profile individuals alleged to have been involved in corrupt practices. Two executive bills aimed at strengthening the legal architecture against corruption have been presented to the National Assembly for passage. Nine mutual agreements and treaties on corruption have been signed as well as the launch of a National Anti-Corruption Strategy. A Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-corruption was constituted as part of the Federal government’s effort to reinvigorate anti-corruption. According to the Federal Government, N430 billion (in naira and foreign currencies) were recovered as proceeds of corruption between January 1 – August 30, 2017. 137 convictions were secured during the same timeline.
He said that despite the efforts of the Federal government, there is stiff opposition against its anti-corruption program. adding that the fight against corruption is being threatened by the lack of diligent prosecution by the state, delay in the prosecution of high-profile cases, bottlenecks in freezing and recovery of stolen assets etc.
He said, “Worst still is the politicization of the anti-corruption war without quickly rooting the fight in the Nigerian people. YIAGA recognizes that the fight against corruption cannot succeed without the support, partnership and collaboration of citizens. No anti-corruption program or campaign succeeds without citizen’s engagement. It is therefore important for citizens who are the main victims of corruption to rise against corruption.
YIAGA believes fighting corruption requires a bifurcated approach. This involves tackling the kleptocratic attitude of public officials, systemic fiscal leakages and impunity through the instrumentality of the rule of law and the evolution of new norms, attitudes and behaviors that abhors corruption. Exposing corrupt practices and advocating for the prosecution of corrupt individuals is another approach of tacklingcorruption.
Itodo further said that the goal of Bounce Corruption is to strengthen anti-corruption in Nigeria by amplifying corruption investigations and empowering and mobilizing citizens especially Nigerian youths to demand accountability.
“Our approach entails promoting the role of traditional and social media in anti-corruption programing, campaign, advocacy, and learning; promoting partnership between media and youth groups on anti- corruption and empowering and strengthening community systems for accountability and anti- corruption. Through Bounce Corruption, 20 million Nigerians will be mobilized to rise against corruption in their community through radio, social media and public debates. 40 Bounce Corruption radio ambassadors from the 36 states of federation have been selected and trained on using radio for anti-corruption advocacy. The project will also increase the demand for accountability and prosecution of corruption casesthrough whistleblowing, campaigns and public interest litigation. Lastly, #BounceCorruption will facilitate access to information on corruption and anti-corruption efforts through using data, technology, media reporting of corruption cases” he added.