By DAYO BENSON
Against the back ground of collective result of stakeholders across the country to wage an unrelenting war against sundry graft, one of the agencies responsible for anti corruption crusade has taken its approach to combat the menace to another level. Instead of the traditional method of prosecuting offenders after the crime has been committed, the new initiative is preventive in nature.
Hence, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related offences Commission (ICPC) is taking the fight to a new level having resolved to henceforth lay emphasis on prevention of the vices of corruption as a means of fast-tracking attainment of results.
For the Commission, preventing the acts of corruption in government establishment schools and institutions would prove more effective in the anti-corruption war than going after culprits which had been the practice in the country over the years.
To achieve this, the ICPC has embarked on a process of Corruption Risk Assessment which involves training of one hundred Corruption Risk Assessors whose task after training would be to study the areas that are vulnerable to corruption within the government’s establishments and develop a good model meant to pluck the loopholes being exploited for corrupt practices.
Already the training of Corruption Risk Assessors (CRS) which commenced in Abuja was conducted by the ICPC in a synergy with the UNDP Virtual School Geneva, Trainees were drawn from Federal Ministries of Education, Health, Water Resources, the Media and the Civil Society groups.
ICPC chairman, Mr Ekpo Nta, a lawyer, who spoke at the occasion, said the new design for fighting corruption commenced in November 2011 with a team of international and local consultants who he explained developed the tools and methodologies for assessing corruption risks in the public sector organizations.
He said, “The CRA Methodology identified the need a pool of Corruption Risk Assessors as a pre-requisite for the conduct of the assessment in the MDAs for which a curriculum and modules for the training were developed. The plan is to train one hundred assessors in the first instance for duration of 8 weeks comprising on-line and face-to-face sessions.
“We must as a nation chart and sustain a new momentum and synergy to free ourselves from the shackles of corruption. The ICPC and sister law enforcement agencies must resist the temptation of being drawn into unnecessary rivalry or working at cross purposes.
“We must remain firmly committed to our respective mandates, improve on our performance ratings, and overcome challenges with the common goal and determination of making Nigeria a country we all can be proud of”.
In the same vein the commission has gone a step further to inculcate ethical values and anti corruption campaigns into school curriculums which are in tandem with it’s mandate. To achieve this, ICPC had in 2003 approached the statutory body for curriculum development in Nigeria, the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) for a collaboration to inject the study of ethics and values into the school curriculum. This collaboration produced the National Values Curriculum (NVC) which secured official approval of the National Council on Education in December 2004.
The overall purpose of NVC is to expose the Nigerian Child to a sustained value-based curriculum that incorporates ethical issues into academic studies from the early years to adolescence. The Curriculum is structured into twelve thematic areas viz; Honesty, Right Attitude to Work, Justice, Discipline, Citizen’s Rights, Contentment, Courage, National Consciousness, Regard and Concern for Interest of Others, Role of the family, Role of Religion and Nigerian Values. The curriculum is applicable across all educational levels and its elements have been infused at the Basic 1-9 (i.e. from primary one to Junior Secondary)
Similarly, the NVC has been infused into ten carrier courses at the Teacher Education Level (National Certificate in Education). This, according to the commission, has contributed to the return of civics as a core subject in schools. It is also planning to include NVC into the curriculum at the Polytechnic and the University levels.
Also, the Commission in partnership with NERDC developed a Teacher’s Guide as a training material for the teachers that will teach the infused topics. Resource persons were drawn from lecturers from the universities, Colleges of Education and ICPC.
At a Public Sensitization Lecture in Lafia, Nassarawa State, organised by the Commission’s National Anti-Corruption Volunteers Vanguard Corps (NAVC) and the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), the ICPC Chairman whose message was delivered by the National Coordinator of NAVC and Resident Consultant, Media and Event of ICPC, Mr. Folu Olamiti, explained that introduction of ethics as a core subject on corruption into the school curriculum was to enlighten the children on reasons they must fight the menace, which had eaten deep into Nigerian system, from their tender age.
The ICPC boss mentioned examination malpractice, bullying and cultism among other things which they must not indulge in at their tender age.
For the NYSC members, youth and adolescents he had this to say: “The future of any country is determined by the past and present antecedents of what you invest in. Our youth is our future and one monster that stands between them and a good future is corruption”.
”Today’s programme is meant to help you identify the monster and teach you how to wage war against it if you are desirous of reaping and enjoying what is rightly yours in a country richly blessed by God. If we do not sustain a zero tolerance for corruption we can safely aver that sustainable economic and social development is unattainable because security and stability in the society is threatened”, he added.
In his lecture titled “Corruption: The Genesis of Nigeria’s Socio-Economic and Security Challenges; The Way Forward”, Mr.Olajide Ayodele, a Public Speaker, said “Nigeria has no business being poor and so corruption has to be fought in all ramifications. At the root of the corruption quagmire in Nigeria is the failure and virtual collapse of governance, the contamination of democratic values, the erosion of accountability procedures, and the looting of the money meant for the socio economic development of the country, thereby creating poverty and security challenges.
”Nigeria has no business being poor and so we have to take the bull by the horn and fight this menace called corruption. It has made governance to be ineffective and delivery of dividends of democracy impossible. We must upgrade our value system to the best ethical practice. Our leaders must think aright and stand up to this canker worm eating us apart.
”Now is the time to say NO to corruption and YES to a peaceful and developed nation where we have everything in abundance or we will have a system that will eventually consume everyone. The time for change is now”, he advised.
However, it appears the change being envisaged may be a mirage if petitions being received from tertiary institutions is anything to go by. According to ICPC it is being inundated daily with petitions from students, staff, unions, and other stakeholders alleging all manners of corrupt practices and abuses in most of our tertiary institutions.
These petitions, according to the commission highlight flagrant abuse of processes in student admissions, examinations, appointment and promotion of staff, manipulation and falsification of academic records like transcripts, sexual harassment and victimization of applicants, students and staff, syndicated plagiarism, delay or non-payment of gratuities and pension to pensioners, non-adherence to bidding processes in the award of contracts, bastardizing accreditation processes through deception, running unapproved Study Centres, affiliates and programmes, establishing and operating unapproved and consequently illegal universities, etc.
“We are all witnesses of the frustrating, disruptive and at times, fatal consequences these have on innocent members of the university community, the nation and our international ranking due to institutional decay, corruption and blatant abuse of processes.
Our preliminary investigations point towards the absence, utter disregard or failure of regulatory systems within these academic Institutions.
ICPC intends to invoke its statutory mandate derived from Section 6 (b)-(d) of its enabling law to undertake a comprehensive Systems Study and Review of the Nigerian University system with the principal aim of identifying and correcting corruption-prone processes.
ICPC’s intervention is specific and does not conflict with the regulatory, supervisory and/auditing roles of the Visitor, Ministry of Education, Councils and indeed the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC)” said the commission. However, how far the commission can go in its new effort to tackle corruption from the root remains to be seen.