ANEEJ-SCALE Project: National Dialogue to Tackle Corruption

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Ify Onyekwere

A significant step towards combating corruption and fostering social inclusive policy reforms in Nigeria was taken during the One-Day National Dialogue on Anti-Corruption held in Abuja on the 25th of July, 2023. The event was organized under the ANEEJ-SCALE project, which aims to enhance anti-corruption initiatives in the country.

Hosted by the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), the dialogue brought together stakeholders from various sectors. These included members of the anti-corruption cluster, civil society organizations (CSOs) engaged in anti-corruption efforts, representatives from anti-corruption agencies, and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP). Distinguished guests from Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Open Government Partnership (OGP) National Secretariat, and international development partners such as the USA Embassy, the British High Commission, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) also participated in the discussions.

The objectives of the National Dialogue were twofold: first, to set an agenda for the new administration of President Ahmed Bola Tinubu, outlining strategies to tackle corruption effectively, and second, to discuss plans and priorities for the Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (COSP10).

Participants conveyed goodwill messages, comments, and recommendations during the opening session. Rev. David Ugolor, the Executive Director of ANEEJ, Ms Lydia Odeh – Chief of Party, Palladium SCALE, and Mrs Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu, former Special Adviser on Justice Reform and International Asset Recovery to former President Buhari, among others, addressed the audience.

A highlight of the event was the presentation of a report on implementing the London Anticorruption Summit and GFAR commitments in Nigeria. The report, launched by Dr Mrs Gloria Ahmed, National Coordinator of the Open Government Partnership, shed light on the country’s progress in combating corruption. Rev. David Ugolor, the Executive Director of ANEEJ, presented the report, showcasing the efforts and challenges faced by stakeholders in the anti-corruption fight.

Throughout the dialogue, presentations, observations, and recommendations were shared during two main panel discussions. Topics covered included “Report on Key Anti-Corruption Reforms and Recommendations” and “Global CSO Expectations from COSP10.”

Several observations were made by participants, highlighting concerns such as the credibility of the social register created under the Buhari administration, delays in corruption case trials, and the prevalence of fake news. Participants also recognized the significant role played by civil society organizations in achieving positive results in global anti-corruption summits and coalitions.

In response to these observations, a set of recommendations was put forth. Civil society organizations were encouraged to engage more closely with government development programs, especially in showcasing successes and supporting social inclusive policies. Participants also stressed the need for CSOs to focus on anti-corruption efforts at the state and local government levels and to collaborate with the media to strengthen their capacity on whistleblower protection and development needs.

In addition, stakeholders emphasized the importance of judicial reforms, supporting weaker civil society organizations, and fostering government-civil society partnerships in the fight against corruption. The Nigerian government was urged to implement the National Anti-Corruption Strategy and the Proceeds of Crime Act, while the United States government was called upon to provide support for the participation of civil society representatives from developing countries in the upcoming UNCAC CoSP10.

The National Dialogue concluded with the signing of a communique by key stakeholders, David Ugolor, Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, Mohammed Attah, Procurement Observation and Advocacy Initiative, and Adekunle Lukeman Adefolahan, 21st Century Community Empowerment for youth and Women Initiative, expressing their commitment to fighting corruption and promoting sustainable development in Nigeria.

The event marks a critical milestone in the nation’s anti-corruption efforts, as civil society and government come together to address this pervasive issue and pave the way for a more transparent and accountable society.

The dialogue’s outcomes are expected to significantly impact Nigeria’s fight against corruption, fostering an environment of accountability, transparency, and social inclusion for sustainable development.

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