COMMUNIQUE OF THE 8TH ANNUAL FORUM OF LAUREATES OF THE NIGERIAN NATIONAL ORDER OF MERIT HELD FROM 1ST-2ND DECEMBER, 2015
Theme: Corruption Eradication and the Nigerian Ethical Revolution
The 8thForum of Laureates of the Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM) was held from 1st to 2nd December, 2015 in the Merit House, Abuja. It was declared open by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, Commander – in- Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Engr. Babachir David Lawal, represented by Mrs. Obiageli Nwokedi; Permanent Secretary, Special Duties in the Office of the SGF.
The Forum was well attended by a broad spectrum of stakeholders including distinguished Senator Shehu Sani; Honourable Representative Dr. Hussaini Suleiman Kangiwa; and His Highness, Mohammad Sanusi II, the Emir of Kano. Other leaders in attendance came from academia, the public service, the private sector, community and faith-based organizations.
The Keynote address was given by Amb. (Dr.) Yusuf Maitama Sule, CRF, Dan masanin Kano. NNOM Laureates and other invited guests discussed the theme of the Forum under the following three sub-themes:
· Eradication of Corruption in the Public Sector;
· Private Sector and the Problem of Corruption;
· Ethical Foundation of Corruption- free Society.
The Forum recognized the efforts and initiatives configured by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to address corruption and urged their sustenance and rigorous implementation of the rules. Religious organizations, communities and leaders were also urged to play their roles to discourage corrupt individuals from flaunting their ill-gotten wealth.
Based on the presentations, discussions and comments by the participants, the following Observations / Recommendations were made:-
· The country needs a disciplined and dedicated leadership to wage a sustained and rigorous anti-corruption war. The Forum applauded President Buhari’s personal example and urged him to continue to lead the anti-corruption war as it is enshrined in sections 5 and 15 of the 1999 Constitution as amended. It emphasized the need for exemplary leadership and punishment of offenders.
· Anti-corruption war is of critical importance for the country to give it a special policy direction. In this respect, the establishment of a Ministry of National Guidance to drive the anti-corruption war was recommended to carry on re-educating and re-orientation of the public.
· Anti-corruption ethics should be taught in schools as part of Civics in Primary and Secondary schools and made a compulsory course in General Studies in Tertiary Institutions.
· Payment of living wages and pensions to public officers should be regularly made and adjusted automatically in line with inflation. The difficulties which pensioners face in their post – retirement lives should be abolished and anyone responsible for such infractions should be quickly identified and suitably punished. This should promote social security to suitably counter corruptive tendencies while they are in service.
· The existing regulations within the Public Service, especially regarding handling of public funds, should be enforced. The audit section should be strengthened.
· The four anti-corruption agencies – ICPC, EFCC, CCB and Police Serious Fraud Unit should be rigorously strengthened and made more effective and independent.
· The security agencies should be encouraged to strengthen their intelligence capabilities and share results with related agencies.
· EFCC should confine itself to investigations and prosecution only to ensure its efficiency; it should let other agencies deal with assets recovery.
· Global best practices for policing to which Nigeria is a subscriber should be adopted by Nigeria to reduce corruption.
· It was observed that a minimum number of convictions of corruption cases have been secured and reported. It is imperative that the Judiciary is seen to join the anti- corruption war more vigorously.
· It was emphasized that the composition of the National Judicial Council be reviewed to make it more independent. It was recommended that it should be made up of the CJN of the Federation, President of the Court of Appeal and the Chief Judges of the States and of Federal High Courts.
· Corruption cases in the various courts should be determined within 90 days of arraignment in court.
· The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions should be insulated from politics by separating it from the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice as was the case in the 1960 Constitution.
· It was considered imperative that enforcement of the Criminal Justice Act 2015 to prevent unnecessary adjournments of corruption cases be instituted.
· Government should take advantage of advances in ICT to improve processes against corruption. For example, it is known that e-policing, e-governance, e-monitoring and other e-management processes would improve efficiency and reduce opportunities for corruption. These should be vigorously implemented.
· Companies that exhibit good corporate governance should be appropriately rewarded while those that perform badly should be sanctioned. As an example of reward, the list of companies that show excellent performance on corporate governance should be published and rated each year by the Government.
· Companies that are proved to have been involved in corrupt contract procurement and implementation practices should be barred from future contracts.
· The Corporate Governance Rating of Companies should be introduced to serve as a threshold for access to Stock Exchange and Governance contracts.
· In order to discourage corruption in Religion, Government should not politicize religion as it encourages the erosion of religious and social values.
· Parents should pay attention to the moral upbringing of their children and wards at home because of its impact on subsequent educational performance.
· Having observed that poverty underlines most of the corrupt practices at all levels of our educational institutions, Government should improve the conditions of service for teachers and the welfare of students.
· The role of the National Orientation Agency should not be restricted to compliance and control but should be expanded to cover character and conscience.
· Religious organizations, communities and leaders should play their roles to discourage corrupt individuals from flaunting their ill-gotten wealth.
· NNMA appreciates the interest that the Federal Government has shown in its assignments and pleads that interest should be sustained and should be made a think-tank for the Government.
Prof. Etim Moses Essien,
OFR, NNOM, FAS, MD,
TWAS Laureate in Medicine.
Chairman, Governing Board, NNMA