Anti-corruption war and economic recovery: The connect

Bishop Dr. Emmah Isong, General Overseer of Christian Central Chapel International (CCCI), Calabar

On the 26th of October,2016, I honoured an invitation of one my comrades to attend the 3rd Annual Emmah Isong  Public lecture at the Faith Mansion Auditorium of the Christian Central Chapel international, Calabar. The guest Speaker at the event was The Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Hon Onofiok Luke. For this edition of Candid Opinions I decided to bring to you quotes and excerpts of the lecture presented by the Honourable Speaker, which he made clear  his views on a personal capacity, while expecting your frank reactions.

I have my CANDID opinion on the lecture but will choose to take the back seat today and allow the Speaker have his way. KINDLY READ AND SHARE HIS WELL DOCUMENTED VIEWS BELOW.

‘’While the fight the fight against corruption is a means to an end, economic recovery and sustainability is the end itself.   Where as a successful anti-graft war cannot guarantee economic recovery, a robustly successful economy can stem corruption’’- ONOFIOK LUKE

“The dynamics of electoral politics create opportunities for corruption which destroys the economy, particularly the financial requirements to obtain and retain office. Reforms of political processes and systems should be an integral part of the government overall anti-corruption programme. I totally condemn the use of the Nations commonwealth for political campaign financing, as an Insider we are all guilty and we should ask God to forgive us.” – Written and Verbal comment of the Lecture presenter while making recommendation on reforming corruption through campaign financing.

The PUBLIC LECTURE ( EXCLUDING THE BACKGROUND AND RECOMMENDATIONS)

A recent Study in May 2016 by the US-based Non Profit research and Advisory organization, Global Financial Integrity(GFI) alleged that about 400 Billion Dollars had either been stolen or misappropriated from our oil rents from independence in 1960 till date. The study also shows that a total 7.92 Billion Dollars flows out of as illicit capital almost every year. These amount from dark illegal crimes, corruption and tax evasion(Alatas 2006). There is no doubt that if corruption is eliminated from our National Life, more resources will be saved, released and made available towards ameliorating the needs of the generality of our people.

I sincerely commend President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR for making firm efforts to tackle the canker-worms of corruption and trying to restore sanity and order in the polity. The point has rightly been made that “if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill us”and all the negative economic indices such as hunger,sickness, malnutrition and unemployment which are all product of corruption will continue to plague us.

Having said all that, I make bold to say that the Anti-Corruption war must not be the only pivot for our economic recovery. The Anti Corruption war must not be fought to the detriment of a full planned comprehensive economic blueprint to navigate our way towards economic recovery. This country’s anti corruption war should not be seen to be highly sensational, jaundiced and thoroughly compromised due to overbearing political undertones and motives.

This  to my mind is not how corruption is best fought. The injurious impact of the crash in oil prices does not tell the whole story about the distress in Nigeria’s economy. The reality is that this administration’s fight against corruption has in one way or the other, perhaps unintentionally, exacerbated the instability in the polity to the extent that the political tension is now having an effect on the economy. Due to the tough and stringent fiscal and monetary policies of the federal government arising from the anti-corruption war, existing businesses are grinding to a halt, new investment initiatives are not exploited and the already existing ones have taken to their heels. I will give you two practical examples of the anti-corruption war campaign that has contracted our economy.

First is the sudden mopping up of idle funds kept in commercial banks through an initiative called the Treasury Single Account(TSA). The second example is the infamous Dansukigate,the investigation of the allegedly converted 2 Billion arms fund.

Distinguished audience, make no mistakes about my submissions, I am totally against corruption and I support the anti-corruption war of Mr.President and the administration. I support the effort to systematically eradicate the menace of corruption. I am however only worried about possible calamitous consequences, such as the contraction in the economy that we are currently facing today as a result of what is fast becoming isolated anti-corruption war. I believe anti -corruption war and economic recovery should be given greater priority because an economically -corruption war and economic growth can thrive side by side. The fight against prosperous nation would translate to lesser corrupt practices by the citizenry.

May I end this lecture by charging the political class, especially those of us in the legislature at all levels, to be alive to our oversight functions. I agree that a good relationship between the executive and legislature is very important to facilitate effective performance. But in doing this there must be strict observance and respect for to the doctrine of separation of power by the three arms of government and the institutions created to fight corruption must be independent and properly funded.

As a people together, we need to build a new Nigeria founded on a solid foundation, not quicksand. We will not have investors come into this country to invest their hard-earned capital in an economy infested with corruption. The anti- corruption war has gone beyond the Government; it is now a collective battle that involves all of us in words, attitudes and deeds. And because it is a battle which involves all of us, it must not be fought with the barrel of gun, it must not be fought with incarceration of political opponents and flagrant disregard and disrespect for the rule of law.

Neither must it be fought by abusing citizens’ fundamental human rights. Rather, it must be fought in an inclusive manner with the citizens as actors and not onlookers. Proceeds from the war must be disclosed and made public as well as returned to the national purse. THIS IS THE ONLY WAY IN MY OPINION,  that the anti-corruption war can connect with Nigeria’s economic recovery.

The above is the opinion of HON. ONOFIOK LUKE (Speaker, Akwa Ibom State  House of Assembly) on the 26th of October,2016 at the 3rd Emmah Isong Public Lecture.

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