(Abuja) – The Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), in conjunction with the United Nations Global Compact and the Siemens Integrity Initiative, today held a National Stakeholders Workshop to address corruption at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja. The workshop, titled “Openness & Transparency: A Stakeholder Commitment against Corruption”, was organized as part of the implementation of the Siemens Integrity Initiative in Nigeria.
The two-day workshop is part of the build-up to the development of a broad and effective coalition of stakeholders with commitment to fighting corruption in Nigeria, in line with global trends. It also engages government and private sector actors to dialogue and agree on the best ways of deploying commitments to transparency and openness in all transactions, and to educate participants on the weight of global and national coalitions against corruption – especially in regards to bringing offenders to prosecution and appropriate sanctions in any country of the world.
In line with these objectives, the UN Global Compact formally launched the Nigerian Collective Action Against Corruption (NCAAC) at the workshop. The workshop aimed to raise awareness about the UN Global Compact’s 10th Principle against corruption which promotes fair market conditions for all economic actors by employing a Collective Action strategy against corruption and fraud.
In his opening remarks, NESG Chairman Foluso Phillips expounded on the urgent need for dialogue, stating that Nigeria’s image has been battered within the international community due to its rating as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. He spoke on the new Nigerian phenomenon referred to as “the elite capture”, where a few elite individuals redirect government resources or funds meant for the general public to benefit an elite group.
Olajobi Makinwa, Head of Anti-Corruption Initiatives at the Global Compact, stated, “The business community must be a part of the drive for the solution in combating corruption. In order to address this critical issue, companies need to put policies and practices in place that will address corruption.” Citing the Dodd-Frank Act in the USA, in which individuals can blow the whistle on companies and receive up to 30 percent of settlements exceeding USD $1 million, Ms. Makinwa stressed the need for Nigeria to incorporate this practice in order to blow the lid on corrupt practices.
Ibrahim Lamorde, Executive Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigeria, spoke about the commission’s internal war against corruption. With Nigeria in the lower indices of the most corrupt nations in the world, he commended Siemens for its renewed commitment to clean business practices and ethics.
In his presentation, titled “Value Chain of Transparency in Business Processes -The NBC Experience”, Nigerian Bottling Company CEO Segun Ogunsanya urged all businesses, national and multinational, to work together against corruption in all its forms including extortion and bribery, and encouraged a consequence management system to be put in place to act as a deterrent.
In his closing remarks, NESG Director General Frank Nweke Jr. called on all participants to enact change. He said, “Once we become conscious and deploy the sovereign power that resides with us as citizens, we can effectively bring about the change that we seek.”
Themes addressed during the workshop included breaking complicity (collusion) in corruption; effective enforcement of anti-corruption laws; and non-legal sanctions mechanisms. Issues raised by participant workgroups include the following:
consequence management system to deter corruption
reorientation of the populace’s values
demands for accountability from leaders
victimization of anti-corruption crusaders
government interference in the judicial process
lack of protection for whistleblower initiatives
The outcome of these workgroups will be reviewed by the NESG and forwarded to the appropriate agencies of government and professional bodies for policy consideration.