… As Ezekwesili expresses displeasure on the Freedom of Information Act
By Olayinka Ajayi
The Founder of Transparency International Peter Eigen has vowed to monitor Nigeria’s 2019 elections with keen interest.
Eigen stated this during her visit to the Presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN Dr.Obiageli Ezekwesili, Wednesday.
He equally lauded her for the courage of taking on anti-corruption and demanded for transparency during the regime of a brutal dictatorship.
The Transparency International boss remembered Ezekwesili’s role in the innovation of TI’s Corruption Perception Index and her becoming the organisation’s global voice, “thereby reflecting how seriously citizens of African countries want the world to tackle corruption.”
He then praised her far reaching work as one who led the first country design and implementation of the EITI principles when as chairperson of NEITI, they went beyond the basic publishing of revenues received and paid between government and oil or mining companies.
“NEITI broadened the initiative to process and physical audits of NNPC/ Ministry of Petroleum, IOCs and NOCs, which were all then published on the Internet. It was for that work we were recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize,” a statement from HOPE 2019 read.
According to Eigen, he is happy that Ezekwesili is running for the office of the President of Nigeria.
He wished her success in the elections, saying, “It will be so much easier for Nigeria to be committed in tackling systemic corruption challenge and become a model of transparency. We would be watching the elections with keen interest.”
Responding, the ACPN presidential candidate, Ezekwesili, described corruption as Nigeria’s most visible problem, and assured Nigerians that her party would ensure transparency in governance.
“Corruption is arguably Nigeria’s most visible problem, and a war against it has been a tool for opportunistic politicians who lack the track record, political will or even technical know-how to tackle this. Tackling corruption requires proactive approaches. First, value reorientation, which will be led by the highest political authority in the land, being the president. Hence, ensuring the election of a credible, untainted president is critical to tackling corruption.”
“Secondly, prevention through reduction of opportunities for corruption, through public sector reforms, which improves public financial management and also reduces the role of government in the economy. This means reviving the role of the audit agencies and processes across the public sector. Also strengthening agencies like the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) and the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) by reviewing and updating their laws for effectiveness.”
“Finally, effective sanctions on corruption and impunity by reversing the aberrant status quo where there is freedom to engage in corrupt practices without consequences. This will require providing agencies the capacity to detect, investigate and prosecute corruption.”
The presidential candidate further expressed displeasure with the ineffectiveness of the Freedom of Information Act, saying it was encouraging poor accountability in governance.
“There are two laws that deserve significant focus because they hold significant potential to tackle corruption but have been hindered from functioning to their fullest capacity: the Freedom of Information Act and the Electoral Act. Ensuring that stringent penalties are placed on bodies that refuse to or hinder the process to release information that the public request is critical to improving transparency and fighting corrupt practices.”
“We will simplify the process of making an FoI request, by allowing online applications and tracking the time that it takes to respond to them. This is an initiative that will be executed,” she added.