Fighting Corruption in Nigeria has since time immemorial been a significant challenge that requires the effort of all stakeholders in public and private sectors, respectively.
Although, these efforts from the Anti-Graft Agencies that the Nigerian Government funds, as well as those from Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, financed by interested international donors, most times, have proven to be futile, because in Nigeria, as the famous saying goes, ”When you fight corruption, It fights back.”
Fighting Corruption In Nigeria: PRIMORG’s 2-Year Journey
In the recent past, the Progressive Impact Organisation for Community Development, PRIMORG, embarked on a 2-year journey in Fighting Corruption in Nigeria.
A journey described as tasking, the Non-Governmental Organisation, NGO, joined forces with reputable media establishments to promote its anti-corruption fight within various government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs.
To mention a few, these organisations include the International Centre for Investigating Reporting, ICIR, The Cable Foundation, TCF, Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, PTCIJ, Dailytrust Foundation, Accountability Lab Nigeria, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Projects, SERAP.
Similarly, to strengthen the fight, some form of partnership was also made with a couple of Anti-Graft Agencies of the Government like the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, among others.
In the journey thus far, PRIMORG made a presentation of a two-year report to mark the end of an ANTI-CORRUPTION AND ACCOUNTABILITY PROJECT.
What The Report Entails
The report was titled ”STRENGTHENING ANTI-CORRUPTION AND ACCOUNTABILITY BY AMPLIFYING CORRUPTION RELATED REPORTS ON THE RADIO AND THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA,” a project funded by the MacArthur Foundation.
An organisation with the mandate to promote accountability, popular participation and inclusiveness in governance, especially to foster good governance, achieved this feat via the radio programme known as ‘Public Conscience’ and a series of ‘Radio Townhall Meetings’ organised to disseminate their messages.
For the record, the project on fighting Corruption took off in April 2019 and ended in March 2021, and it made a far-reaching impact as citizens. The Government’s attention was continuously drawn to reported corruption stories in Nigeria.
To attain that long-reaching effect to impact the targeted listeners, viewers and subscribers in general, the radio programmes were aired in the five geopolitical zones in the country.
As contained in the report obtained from PRIMORG, on May 18, the programmes were aired through ”8 radio stations across the nation and syndicated weekly, with over 10 million people reached, with an engagement of 307,409 people on social media; 416 public conscience on radio syndications; 26 radio town hall meetings; 2 live community townhall gatherings; 36 vox pops (public opinion); and over 1000 feedbacks from listeners.”
Achievements In The Fight Against Corruption
In highlighting some of its achievements, PRIMORG, through collaborative efforts in its fight against Corruption, had a community town hall meeting in Imo State and Abuja to sensitise the general public that ‘Birth Registration’ for children under the age of 0-18 is free while attempting to eradicate Corruption in the birth registration process.
Also, the amplification of a ‘Fake Honey Story’ led to the dismissal of an official of NAFDAC, ‘Reduced Corruption in Electricity Metering Scheme in Pegi Community in Abuja. The Success was made possible by the partnership established with the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, AEDC and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission.
Part of the other project segments include the celebration of Nigerians standing tall on the integrity in their various places of work daily. This aspect came to fruition following the partnership PRIMORG has Accountability with Lab Nigeria, coordinating thorough screenings of possible honest candidates for recognition.
The processes in achieving these feats, as mentioned earlier, according to PRIMORG, was stressful. The Organisation revealed that it faced numerous challenges in the last two years, especially its poor access to information from the Government MDAs.
Other challenges were in the efforts to curb extortion in the birth registration process, yet, the NGO reported that Nigerian Citizens still complain that the business of selling birth certificate persists. Mainly, most worrisome is the little and no government action when media houses publish investigative corruption reports.
Meanwhile, in expanding and clarifying Corruption’s message, the Executive Director of PRIMORG, Mr Okhiria Agbonsuremi, pointed out a section of the 1999 constitution that empowers the Nigerian Media.
In his presentation tagged ”Investigative Corruption Reports in Nigeria: The Impact Deficits and Need for Amplification of Reports,” he talked about chapter 2, section 22 of the constitution, which holds the Government accountable for people.
The section states that ”The press, radio, television and other agencies of mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in the chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people.”
In reality, the section of the constitution quoted is not yielding many results as Agbonsuremi noted that the level of reactions from the Government’s MDAs and the National Assembly’s Public Account Committees are so abysmal.
According to him, this has brought a feeling in certain quarters that the massive work being done by these media organisations with support from international charities is all a wasted effort.
”There is also a perception that despite many anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria, the fight against Corruption is largely lip-service and selective.
”Otherwise, how else should it be explained that a government which claims to be fighting Corruption and with the instrumentalities of an array of anti-corruption bodies will not see the need to partner with media houses engaged in the business of investigating and reporting on corruption,” he said.
On one of the programmes PRIMORG uses to disseminate its anti-corruption messages, that is Public ConScience on Radio, a guest, Dr Theophilus Abah, the Director, Daily Trust Foundation, lamented that one of the problems faced after struggling, going around to gather all the details to publish a story while expecting the National Assembly, EFCC, ICPC, others to take the necessary action and probe further, with all these expectations, ”Nobody would do anything, which is a major we face as journalists in this country.”
Meanwhile, on the appraisal of PRIMORG’s fight against Corruption within two years, the Country Director, Africa, MacArthur Foundation, Kole Shettima, who spoke via the zoom platform at the presentation of the report, commended the Organisation for the amplification model it selected as an approach in tackling Corruption.
He stressed that their programmes point the Government in the right direction, especially enabling them to expend resources on projects funds were budgeted for and held accountably.
On his part, the Chairman, Board of Directors, PRIMORG, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, noted that the Organisation has successfully taken up the task of convincing citizens that the ”fight against Corruption is not a fight against enemies,” adding that tackling Corruption is a fight for all Nigerians not just the Government alone.
Also, the Head of Mass Communications Department, Base University, Prof. Abiodun Adeniyi, endorsed the idea that PRIMORG is given more funds to continue another phase of the anti-corruption project.
Other speakers who remarked on the report presentation are the Executive Director, Centre for Environmental Sustainability and Development Awareness, CESDA, Mr Olusola Babasola; Aderugbe Taiwo, Chairman, Pegi Community; Hajia Amina Salihu of MacArthur Foundation, to list just a few.
It would be noted that the approaches deployed by the Organisation yielded:
- Changes in Structures, suspensions and sack of corrupt Government Officials.
- Provision of amenities to communities earlier denied attention to which consideration has been drawn to such places.
- Reduction in the cost of governance by the Federal Government.
- Public outcries by many citizens against government inactions on some of its officials indicted for Corruption.