Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy President of the Senate, has called for the decentralisation of federal anti-corruption agencies, saying there was an urgent need to do so if the anti-graft war in Nigeria must be won decisively.
He made the call when he delivered the Fourth National Public Service Lecture of the University of Ibadan Alumni Association (UIAA) in Ibadan on Friday. The lecture was titled: ‘Federalism and the Legal Framework for Combating Corruption in Nigeria’.
Ekweremadu, who called for N50, 000 minimum wage and abolition of the Security Vote, enjoined the 36 states in the country to set up anti-corruption agencies with a view to complementing the efforts of federal anti-graft agencies.
He described as problematic the strategies for fighting corruption in the country, adding that the fight had not been effective because the two major anti-corruption agencies in the country, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) do not have offices in all the states of the federation.
According to him, ICPC has just six zonal offices in addition to its headquarters in Abuja, and presence in just nine states of the federation. The EFCC, he said, has offices in only eight states apart from its headquarters in Abuja, noting that they are grossly inadequate for a vast country like Nigeria.
He further noted: “It is clear that corruption shows no sign of abating in Nigeria. The strategy for fighting corruption is problematic, doomed by peculiar environmental factors like lack of honest leadership, defective anti-corruption mechanisms and the palpable lack of true federalism. The prevalence of corruption can be traced to the nature of the Nigerian society.
“The apotheosis of wealth, growing acceptance of moral laxity, the collapse of social disapproval as a regulator of conduct conflate to produce a society where corruption is condoned and even viewed as a permissible way of getting ahead.”
On the way forward, Ekweremadu said: “Dealing with corruption is difficult and challenging but it is not without hope either. We need a far-reaching and in-depth reorientation. Importantly, Nigeria being a federation, the war against corruption must itself be devolved and federalised, not centralised as is currently the case.”
He noted further: “Sadly, only Kano State currently has a state agency to fight corruption — the Kano State Public Complaint and Anti-Corruption Commission. The present administration in Abia State also recently announced its intention to set up an anti-graft agency. These are good examples that should be emulated, and urgently too, if we must make a headway in the war against graft.
“Similarly, a Code of Conduct Bureau should be established in the states with a Code of Conduct Tribunal to handle cases of civil servants in the states and local government councils. You will agree with me that just like the EFCC and ICPC, the CCB cannot effectively monitor the activities of federal, state and local government civil servants. The manpower is just not there.
“Besides setting up such agencies, there is also the need for the states to domesticate auxiliary federal laws that would help curb corruption. They include the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), Fiscal Responsibility Act, among others. Rivers, Oyo, Anambra, Enugu, Ekiti,
Lagos and Ondo are the only states that have so far adopted the ACJA.”