By Joel Popoola
Here’s irony for you: Nigerian politics has a better reputation with international experts than it does with Nigerians.
We all know that when it comes to reputation, the Nigerian government can be its own worst enemy.
Whether it’s accidentally appointing dead men to government commissions, or copying entire laws off the internet like a naughty schoolboy, our political class has kept us laughing for longer than Papa Ajasco!
That’s why many Nigerians will be surprised to hear of research from the University of Edinburgh Global Integrity’s Anti-Corruption Evidence (ACE) programme, which shows how much better Nigeria is getting at tackling corruption.
The study reports that the prosecution of high-level corruption cases in Nigeria has noticeably improved in recent years with “key legislative reforms, as well as innovations and pragmatic adaptations undertaken by prosecutors and investigators (underpinning) much of this progress”.
The international academic observers even describe the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as “a robust and effective agency”.
The report concludes:
“By looking at evidence of what is actually happening, rather than relying on apocryphal accounts or worn-out stereotypes; policymakers, practitioners, civil society and international partners can work together more effectively to support effective anti-corruption law enforcement practice in Nigeria.”
The President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration obviously understand how important these changes are to the government’s national and international reputation and performance. It is therefore, believed that the government will prioritised these changes in the coming days.
Sadly, Nigerians themselves are not as impressed with the progress being made.
The Pew Research centre reports that more than seven-in-ten Nigerians (72%) believe the statement “most politicians are corrupt” describes our country well, and six-in-ten say it describes Nigeria “very well.”
Just 39% of Nigerians are satisfied with the way democracy is working in our country – with 60% not satisfied – and 57% stating their belief that no matter who wins an election, things do not change very much for Nigerians.
And as Nigerians, we have to face facts; there’s a reason people feel this way. The international Corruption Perception Index (CPI) still ranks us 146 out of 180 countries, making us the 34th most corrupt country on Earth. One online poll even suggested that 80% of Nigerians think that placing is deserved.
As the Acting Chairman, EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, stated recently that: “Corruption is a huge burden to our nation. It has spread to insecurity, poverty, unemployment, falling standard of education, weak access to affordable health care, falling infrastructure and so many others.”
What is to be done?
Well, the ACE study recommends that Nigeria’s main anti-corruption agencies; the EFCC, ICPC, and CCB should “increase transparency as well as intensify collaboration and information sharing with other government agencies and non-governmental partners”.
I believe that this recommendation should be followed throughout Nigerian government. And that’s where technology comes in.
Nigerians need to see the progress that is being made. And in the twenty-first century, people increasingly find information they get from their peers to be the most credible. But to many Nigerians, the political class feels far away and irrelevant. It doesn’t have to be that way. The power to change is in our hands. Literally!
26 million Nigerians voted in the last presidential election. 24 million have social media accounts.
39% of Nigerians voted in the last presidential election. 46% have a Facebook account.
Online and on handheld devices, are increasingly where connections are made in modern Nigeria.
My Digital Democracy project was established to make electors and elected true peers, connecting people with their elected officials via their phones using our free Rate Your Leader app. The app also allows leaders to explain direct to the people they serve– without any sort of spin or fake news distortion – what decisions they have made, why they have made them, and how it affects local people.
This in turn leads to greater levels of trust in a political class that the voters can see are working for them, and accountable to them.
Another survey reported that almost half of Nigerians believe that corruption cannot be defeated.
It can, but not before our political class takes important steps to improve its image through greater accountability and transparency.
But thanks to smartphone technology, that can be done from the comfort of their homes, with the touch of a button.
Joel Popoola is a Nigerian tech entrepreneur, digital democracy campaigner and creator of the Rate Your Leader app.
Kogi Gov Blames Federal Roads for Tanker Explosion
The Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, has blamed the Wednesday fatal tanker explosion in Lokoja, the state capital, on the deplorable state of federal roads.
The tanker carrying Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) ran into oncoming vehicles after the brake failed around Felele area of Lokoja about 8:00 a.m.
Cars, motorcycles and a school bus were destroyed in the inferno.
About 23 lives, including students of the state polytechnic and primary school pupils, died in the blaze, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) confirmed.
Following the incident, Mr Bello visited the minister of works and housing, Babatunde Fashola, to solicit urgent Federal Government’s attention to the deplorable condition of federal roads in Kogi.
According to his spokesperson, Onogwu Muhammed, the governor told the minister that the deplorable state of all federal roads across the state led to recurrent accidents in the state.
“He said the state government has done a lot in maintaining the roads but owing to the large volume of traffic on the roads, in view of its strategic location as gateway state, such repairs and maintenance do not stand the test of time.
“He appealed to the minister to expedite action in carrying out reconstruction of roads across the state to curtail the preventable accidents on the road.”
Also, Mr Bello begged Mr Fashola to direct contractors handling repairs on the Murtala Bridge at Jamata “to speed up the rate of work,” noting that the slow pace of work has caused the commuters untold hardship.
In a similar vein, he urged the minister to direct the contractors in-charge of the Kabba-Ilorin road project to return to site.
He said the total neglect of the road in the area has made life unbearable for motorists and commuters plying the road.
“The governor also drew the attention of the minister to the Lokoja-Ganaja-Ajaokuta road which the federal government awarded for over three years but contractors were yet to be seen on site.”
Meanwhile, Mr Muhammed said the minister had ordered the Federal Road Maintenance Agency to immediately fix the bad portion of the road at the Felele end of the Okene/Lokoja/Abuja road.
“The minister equally put calls across to contractors handling Kabba-Egbe-Omuaro road, Okene-Lokoja-Abuja road to inform them of the governor’s presence in his office and the need for them to speed up the works on the roads.
“He assured the governor that the ministry will use the remaining part of the year to achieve more in fulfilling the governor’s request in respect of federal roads in the state.”
NCAC Holds Discussion on Resuscitating Culture, Morality
A one day Cultural Roundtable on Morality, Culture and the Nigerian Youth has been organized by National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC). The aim of the program was to address the progressive deterioration of our cultural values and the urgent need to mount a comprehensive and sustainable value re-orientation programme to return Nigerian society on the path of moral rebirth.
In his welcome address at the event held at Abuja Sheraton Hotels and Towers, the Director-General of the National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe decried the progressive deterioration in our cultural values.
Runsewe stated that while Nigeria had always been known for a rich culture, anchored on the virtues of hardwork, integrity, high public morality, respect for elders and constituted authority, decency in dressing and in public speeches among others, these virtues are rapidly giving way to various social vices.
He noted that in the past, agents of socialization like the family, school, religious institutions, took collective responsibility in inculcating high moral values among our youths. According to Otunba Runsewe, today the story is different. Runsewe lamented that what we now see, is laziness, get rich quick syndrome and primitive acquisitive tendencies by yahoo-yahoo boys, scammers, internet fraudsters and all forms of social vices.
In her speech, the Chairman of the occasion, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Women Affairs and Administration, Office of the First Lady, Dr. Hajo Sani stated that our youths in imitating foreign cultures in the way they talk and dress, are early signs of deviation from our moral values and customs.
She lamented that in our schools, many teachers who are supposed to tutor our children in cultural ethos now take advantage of the same children they are supposed to take care of. She added that the society at large, has now become bad examples to our youths by exposing them to other immoral vices like rape and other forms of evil activities.
She noted that the First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari will be willing to collaborate with NCAC on building a good foundation for our youth right from childhood.
The Managing Director of Africa Independence Television (AIT), Dr. (Mrs) Tosin Dokpesi, who gave the keynote address, commended the DG, NCAC for putting up the roundtable discourse, adding that there is no better time to start the moral rebirth crusade than now. She said all hands must be on deck to rid the society of the social vices and inculcate good values in our youths. She stressed the need to arrest our eroding values and tradition with a commitment to restore the lost culture and glory of our country Nigeria.
Highlight of the occasion was the presentation of a book titled “Morality, Culture and the Nigerian Youth”, authored by the Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture, copies of which were distributed to all the participants: discussants, speakers, journalists and other invited guests. The Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Segun Runsewe also used the occasion to express the resolve of the National Council for Arts and Culture to rise up to the occasion and rid our society of moral rot and put Nigeria on a sound social and cultural footing.
Runsewe added that the book will serve as one of the literature materials that his Council intends to use to prosecute the moral rebirth in our society. He urged every parent, teacher, religious leader to critically review our values as a nation as that is the only sure way we can aspire for accelerated growth and development we urgently desire.
The one day roundtable attracted the participation of critical stakeholders from different sectors of the society.
INEC Issues Obaseki Certificate of Return
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has presented a certificate of return to Godwin Obaseki as the elected governor of Edo state.
Obaseki and Philip Shaibu, his deputy, both of whom contested in the state governorship election under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were presented with the certificate in Benin on Tuesday.
The commission had declared him the winner of the Saturday poll after he got the highest votes.
May Agbamuche-Mbu, INEC south-south National Commissioner who presented him with the certificate, said Obaseki fulfilled all the constitutional requirements to emerge winner of the election.
The governor was re-elected after securing 307,955 votes across 18 local government areas (LGAs) while Osagie Ize-Iyamu, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), came second with 223,619 votes.
The PDP candidate, who will begin his second term in office in November, 2020, won in 13 LGAs while Ize-Iyamu won in five.
Total votes cast is 550,242 while the total number of valid votes in the election is 537,407, and rejected votes – 12,835.
Ize-Iyamu is yet to concede the election though. After the results were announced, he hinted at challenging the outcome in court, saying his supporters were disenfranchised.
But his party has since accepted the results. The APC leadership described the outcome as a victory for democracy and asked Ize-Iyamu to congratulate Obaseki.