Transparency International Boss Visits Ezekwesili, Hails Her Pioneering  Work

…’You became our global voice’, he said

Presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, Dr.  Obiageli Ezekwesili, has said that one of the challenges confronting  Nigeria remains transparent leadership.

She said this during a visit to her by Peter Eigen, the Visioner and Founder of Transparency International, in Nigeria.

The ACPN presidential candidate described corruption as Nigeria’s most visible problem, and assured Nigerians in a statement on Wednesday that her party would ensure transparency in governance.

Ezekwesili noted that fighting corruption in Nigeria required a proactive process, building strong and impartial organisations headed by  utmost professionals.

She said, “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 also 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.

It will be recalled that Ezekwesili was the pioneer head of the Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Unit (aka Due Process Unit). It was in  this position that she earned the title of ‘Madam Due Process’ for the  outstanding work she led a team of professionals to do in sanitising public procurement at the federal level in Nigeria.

As witnessed by members of the Obiageli Ezekwesili Campaign Organisation  – HOPE 2019, Eigen reminisced over the years he worked with Ezekwesili  to bring global attention to the menace of corruption.

He praised her for the courage of taking on anti-corruption and demand for transparency during the regime of a brutal dictatorship.

The Transparency International boas 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.

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 her systemic corruption challenge and become a model of transparency.”

Eigen added that he would be watching the elections with keen interest.