A former President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Humphrey Asobie, on Thursday advised the anti-corruption agencies to be holistic and go for the ‘big fishes’ in the fight against corruption.
Mr. Asobie, who was the chairman of the board of the Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, NEITI, made this call while speaking as the guest speaker at the International Anti-Corruption Day (IACD) 2016 round-table discussion hosted by the United States Embassy.
The discussion had the theme “Corruption: an impediment to the sustainable development goals”.
Mr. Asobie suggested the use of “shock therapy” and “bing bang strategy” in the fight against corruption, stressing that the most important personalities should be taken in.
“Pick OBJ, IBB, (Rotimi) Amaechi, (Bola) Tinubu, Abdulsalami (Abubakar) and Raji (Fashola). They will all think you are mad when you say it,” the professor of Political Science at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, said.
OBJ is the popular name for former President Olusegun Obasanjo while IBB refers to former military ruler, Ibrahim Babangida. Like others mentioned by the don, the former Nigerian leaders have been accused of corruption while in office.
“Corruption is systemic in Nigeria; it’s not just a few certain individuals. It also includes the anti-corruption agencies, they have a problem of corruption.
“It has reached a stage where we are confused as to what is wrong and right, you start to wonder whether it has affected their intellect.
“After speaking at an event in 2013, the then Governor of Anambra State Mr. Peter Obi was provoked, he came to me and said, “I was one of your student but I’ve avoided you because you are at the left and am on the right. All of us are corrupt,” Mr. Asobie said.
In his welcome remark, the U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission, David Young, said the U.S. government is committed to work with Nigeria in fighting corruption and recovering stolen funds.
Sam Saba, the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, while speaking said that the major problem the Bureau is facing in the fight against corruption is poor funding.
“The essential thing here is funding, we don’t receive allocation on time and when we do it comes in halves.
“Some countries receive budget of five years but since Obasanjo’s regime, we only receive half and it’s a problem”, Mr. Saba said.
While speaking to journalists, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, who was also at the event, urged the U.S., Switzerland and other foreign countries who are in possession of stolen funds from Nigeria to release them immediately.
“Nigeria has $458 million stashed away in the U.S., we have filed a suit in Jersey, where the money was kept but the U.S. government is claiming the money should be paid to them so as to help us manage them.
“Similarly, we have $321 million in Switzerland. The Swiss government is saying they won’t release it unless they are allowed to supervise its use. Our government should be prepared to adapt an aggressive ruling to these corrupt foreign agencies. The press should join in this campaign. We should not beg for our money, we should fight for it,” Mr. Falana said.
The 2016 International Anti-Corruption Day marks the 13th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
To commemorate the event, the U.S. Embassy hosted a roundtable discussion with various stakeholders.
The panel was moderated by Chidi Odinkalu, former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission.