The Federal government has been advised to expand and entrench transparent law so as to tackle corruption.
This was the submission of Prof Rotimi Suberu of the Department of Political Science,
Bennington College, Vermont, USA who was the keynoter at the Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy (ISGPP), held today in Ibadan.
The theme of the seminar was ‘Constitutional Foundations of Political corruption in Nigeria and a Reform Strategy’ and Prof Ayo Olukotun,(Oba Sikiru Adetona, Professorial Chair in Governance), of the Department of Political Science, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State was the chairman of the seminar while the host was Prof Akin Mabogunje, the Chairman ISGPP.
He said that among the drivers of corruption; political institutions are the most decisive and most amenable to formal constitutional reform, yet these institutions are often neglected in scholarly and policy discussions regarding anti-corruption reform in Nigeria.
Suberu suggested that policy measures be put in place to effectively depoliticize, deepen and strengthen the ICPC and the EFCC, among other anti-corruption agencies.
He explained that a constitutional amendment or legislation to grant public access to official assets declarations will build upon the initial enthusiasm generated by government’s whistle blower policy; alleviate some of the burden on the bureau charged with verifying disclosures; and give the public a direct stake in fighting corruption.
He also added that there should be a transfer of responsibility for oversight of the FOI Act to a depoliticized and autonomous office of Attorney-General, which should be delinked from the political office of Minister of Justice.
He enlisted the elements of a reform strategy to include; “Curb discretionary powers of political executives, More realistic to curb presidential powers than to promote parliamentarianism (rare) and semi-presidentialism (de facto hyper-presidential),
Review the executive’s constitutional powers and privileges, including immunity and veto prerogatives, Reduce executive powers to allocate economic rents and patronage by prohibiting security votes, eliminating redundant, duplicative agencies, and reforming petroleum governance, etc.
At the subnational level, promote autonomous democratic local governance. Insulate oversight agencies from executive control”.
Suberu stated further that National Assembly has not passed enabling laws to make public officers’ assets declarations “available for inspection by any citizen of Nigeria” as required under the 1999 Constitution adding that, perhaps, the right of inspection should have been directly and fully guaranteed under the Constitution, rather than subjected to statutory codification.
“Code of Conduct Bureau has discouraged publications of assets declarations in the absence of relevant enabling law.
Challenges also plague the NEITI framework, where a presidentially appointed, rather than civil society-directed, National Stakeholder Working Group, has focused on disclosures of revenue payments by oil companies to the government, while giving relatively limited attention to transparency in critical areas like “licensing, contracting, revenue management, and planning, and budgeting.” Consequently, the governance of the Nigerian oil sector remains opaque”.
Speaking earlier, the Executive Vice Chairman of ISGPP, Dr. Tunji Olaopa stated that corruption in Nigeria’s context is mostly viewed with fiscal lens, there is a need to deepen the view by interrogating the issue of political corruption especially as it manifest through the manipulation and exploitation of political institutions.
He said the aim of the day’s seminar was to look at the aforementioned issue as well as how political corruption plays out in the deliberate weakening and violation of the value foundation of political institutions “in a nation where the essence of everything including the meaning of eternity where we would all be at the end of time is politicised.”