By Obas Esiedesa and Fortune Eromosele, Abuja

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, has reaffirmed its support to Nigeria in the fight against corruption.

UNODC Country Representative, Dr. Oliver Stolpe, who spoke during the commemoration of the international anti-corruption day organized by the Inter-Agency Task Team, IATT, in Abuja, said that corruption if not curbed, would continue to be a security threat, noting that anti-corruption education was critical to stopping the menace.

He said, “Youth and children have the most at stake. Bolstering anti-corruption education is central to our work to connect, engage and empower the next generations. This includes working to help shield sports from corruption.”

Stolpe disclosed that in 2023, the UNODC will renew its partnerships with the Federal Government in the area of anti-corruption with several new projects.

The coming projects he listed were, “First: With the support of the MacArthur Foundation, the National Bureau of Statistics and UNODC will embark on the conduct of the third National Corruption Survey bearing witness to the sustained and exemplary leadership of subsequent Nigerian Governments in countering corruption; and to do so transparently.

“Secondly: With the support of the Government of the United States and the United Nations Peace Building Fund, we will be embarking on a new partnership with the Nigerian Police Force and its Complaints Response Unit geared towards addressing one of the critical findings of the 2019 National Corruption Survey, namely the challenges encountered by citizens in accessing existing complaints mechanisms when seeking redress for police misconduct.

“These projects and initiatives complement our already ongoing cooperation with the Government of Kaduna State providing technical support to the establishment of its Anti-Corruption Unit.”

Speaking earlier, the Chairman of IATT, Barrister Olusegun Adekunle while admitting that corruption was a huge challenge in the country, noted that the government has not been idle but have taken several measures to check the menace.

According to him, “at the national level, we will also be focusing on the upcoming 2023 General Elections and the National Anti-Corruption Strategy 2022 – 2026 recently approved on 23rd November 2022. These discussions are apt at this time as it creates the opportunity for greater synergy in the processes in preparation towards a smooth transition to the next government in 2023. 

“There is no denying the fact that our country has some corruption challenges. We must acknowledge however that we have not been idle in our bid to combat corruption. Efforts directed at fighting corruption in Nigeria are as old as the country itself. Nigeria has enacted legislations and established institutions to implement the diverse issues covered by the United Nations Convention against Corruption. We have continued to strengthen our dedicated institutions to ensure data–policy nexus and inter-agency coordination and collaboration especially via the IATT platform”. 

Adekunle who also chairs the board of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, pointed out that the present government “is running an anti-corruption agenda anchored on prevention; public engagement; sanctions and enforcement; and recovery of proceeds of corruption. While the entire agenda has made considerable progress, the drive to recover proceeds of corruption stands out. It is a key policy of this government to deprive the corrupt of the benefit of their crime and ensure restitution to the citizens and the State itself”. 

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