By Luminous Jannamike
ABUJA – The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has called on Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to extend their activism to the issues of affirmative action for women in appointed positions and government’s anti-graft efforts in the country.
Osinbajo stated this on Thursday during a dialogue session at the Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room in Abuja.
Osinbajo said although the federal government supports the 35 percent affirmative action for women, there is need for more lobbying and sensitisation, especially among members of the National Assembly by CSOs to ensure that it becomes law.
“It’s clear that we need to do a lot more in terms of the appointment of women into Board positions.
“A lot more sensitization (by CSOs) needs to be done; such that these kinds of legislation gets the kind of attention that they require in order that the legislature sees them as inevitable and pass them into law.
“My worry is that there isn’t seem to be, in my view, enough lobbying and attention paid to it except in the last couple of days before the National Assembly had to take a position, especially the Senate,” he said.
On the issue of anti-graft war, Osinbajo said although the government faces legal challenges in its fight against corruption, the needed push by CSOs “is not strong enough.”
According to him, “there isn’t enough outrage from civil society groups. I am stunned that civil society is quiet on the issues of corruption.
“We don’t have enough people coming out to say ‘let us see to the trial of Mr. X’
“This is what we find in serious anti-corruption war; some people who have corruption allegations to answer to are incentivised to fight against whoever in government that wants to see them prosecuted.
“For those Nigerians who are not happy with what is happening, they should speak up. Many of them are not part of several anti-corruption initiatives of the present government.
“There is hardly any serious activist or group of activists in the anti-corruption circles who want to do something about the menace.
“When I first came into office, I didn’t know that what I thought was corruption in Nigeria was far more deeply rooted. We have about $30bn in our reserves but when you find one person alone having about $15bn of looted funds in a private bank account, it makes you realise how far reaching corruption has eaten into the fabrics of our society.
“Where are the campaigners? Where are the people who would say ‘call this man or woman out for corruption and make sure they are not able to spend there ill-gotten wealth’?
“Even if we restructure Nigeria and still tolerate the menace of corruption, I don’t see how we are going to make progress.
“I think the duty of civil society groups is to be active participants who are fully engaged in the anti-corruption initiatives of government,” Osinbajo said.
On his part, Clement Nwankwo, the convener of Situation Room, said CSOs support the efforts of the federal government in tackling the scourge of corruption but expressed the belief that much more long-lasting and sustainable steps need to be taken in this regard.