Corruption and Underdevelopment

ICPC chair says corruption a huge obstacle to development, ethical values

By Paul Michael, Abuja

Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof Bolaji Owasanoye, SAN, has said that corruption remains a huge obstacle to the development and ethical values in Nigeria.

Prof Owasanoye disclosed this while speaking during the Annual Making a Difference Leadership Seminar of the Harvest Fields International held at the Events Centre, Agidingbi Road, Lagos.

In his presentation titled “Corruption and Integrity: Making the Difference Leadership Series”, the ICPC Chairman, who was the guest speaker, stated that corruption undermines infrastructure development due to skewed procurement processes.

“Corruption is the greatest obstacle to development and an existential threat to unity. It affects everyone and everything negatively and gravely.

“In the minimum, corruption destroys ethical and moral values; compromises security, justice and rule of law; deprives citizens of economic, social and constitutional rights; breeds distrust, mistrust, unemployment, violence; breeds poverty as it diverts resources from poverty reduction projects; hinders effective resource allocation and deployment, and fuels ethnic distrust and conflicts due to unjust resource allocation,” he said.

The ICPC boss, however, listed some corruption and integrity red flags for leaders in the public service to be wary of or to avoid slipping into them.

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According to him, the red flag includes public procurement, contract splitting, fiscal management skill, abuse of office or power, and disconnect from reality.

He identified the recovery of assets from corrupt persons as a key measure in the fight against corruption.

“Asset recovery from corrupt persons has become necessary to deny them the use of whatever they had stolen from the public coffers. Our efforts are geared towards recovery of identified stolen assets and resources that will be used for the development of the country.

“Millions of Nigerians suffering denial of basic social services and lack of infrastructures such as hospitals, schools, water and employment will receive succour when stolen assets are recovered from looters,” he added.

The ICPC Chairman cited some scriptural passages in his recommendations to the seminar participants on how to make a difference in leadership while avoiding corrupt tendencies.

The recommendations include: reducing expectations of reward or gratitude (Luke 17:10); having options and reminding oneself that he or she is not the only person who can do it (1 Kings 19:10); focusing on basic needs not the vanities of life (1 Tim 6:8) and ignoring praise singers who exaggerate someone’s importance to the system (John 6: 25-26).

Others are forgoing a privilege or entitlement when in doubt about it (1 Cor. 6:12), conceding benefits to others and focusing on the welfare concerns of subordinates (Matt. 5:40), shouldn’t be ambiguous about integrity issues (Proverbs 11:3), and be ready to speak truth to power and to walk the talk.

Earlier in his welcome remarks, the host and Senior Pastor of City Harvest Church, Rev Abraham Akinola, said the 2022 Leadership Seminar is aimed at creating a better society and providing redemption for the country.

He said, “It has been a long journey. This is the 16th Edition and is creating a better society. We shouldn’t be overwhelmed by our numerous challenges; we have Nigerians who have faced the challenges of our society and our guest speaker is one of them.

“We need to exert the influence of Christ more in our life and attitude to enable us to preserve our nation. We, particularly, need the character of Christ in our life, choice of words, dress code and attitude in order to influence a change in our society.”

Other speakers at the Leadership Seminar were former President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof Assisi Asobie and Lead Researcher, TVC News, Mr Babajide Otitoju.

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