Corruption and Underdevelopment

Professionals’ lack of integrity fuels corruption, Owasanoye says

By Paul Michael

Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Professor Bolaji Owasanoye (SAN) has stated that lack of integrity by professional bodies was responsible for the spate of corruption in Nigeria.

Prof Owasanoye stated this at the 11th Summit of Professionals, which was organised by the Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN) in Abuja on Wednesday.

The ICPC boss, who was the Special Guest of Honour at the event, noted that the country’s ailing economy was currently suffering from maladies bordering on a lack of integrity and good ethical conduct.

According to him, “If we must achieve our dream of sustainable economic growth as a nation, integrity should be the cornerstone of every professional practice, and professional bodies must be seen to enforce their code of ethics to the letter.”

He noted that financial fraud cannot be committed without the complicity of a ‘professional’, hence, the decision of ICPC to introduce a Forum of Professional Bodies and Business Management Associations, which brings professionals together to brainstorm on how to reduce corruption to the barest minimum and to conduct their businesses with uttermost integrity and strict adherence to code of professional ethics.

“The overall objective of the Forum is to sensitize professionals on the content of anti-corruption laws, especially the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000, and discuss the possibility of infusing relevant aspects of the law into the professional code of ethics of various professions so that violating the codes of ethics would invariably amount to violating ICPC Act and therefore punishable

“The motivation to do wrong is very high because professional codes of ethics are not implemented by those saddled with the responsibility whether they be the officers of the professional body or regulators partly because the rules allow for discretion or because they are implicated. The result is that erring professionals easily rationalise their actions.

“Experience however shows that a person, professional, or business that chooses the path of integrity will always appear short-changed but only in the short term. Such is vindicated in the long term if they stay the course,” He added.

The ICPC Chairman added that the Commission has made further efforts to help reduce corruption in the country by liaising with various professional bodies through the forum.

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“Between 2013 when the Forum was introduced and 2018, ICPC had conducted five sessions whereby it sensitized and interacted with 627 professionals from 28 professional bodies. ICPC had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with some professional bodies such as the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) with the view of ridding the engineering profession of unwholesome behaviours such as quackery,” he said.

While urging APBN to team up with ICPC in the implementation of anti-corruption policy, he said the private sector, consisting largely of professionals, was important to the implementation of the National Ethics and Integrity Policy (NEIP).

Earlier in his remark, the President of APBN, Surveyor Akinloye Olufemi, noted that the Association, being the umbrella body for all professions in the country, has the undisputable responsibility to continue to intensify its effort on advocacy against corruption.

“It is common knowledge that the world is going through trying times. Just as the slow Socio-economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic was gathering momentum came the Russian invasion of Ukraine which has preoccupied the developed countries. As lives are being lost daily, the attention of the developed countries has been shifted to trying to contain the invasion and its far-reaching implications.

“It is as if our nation’s share of this was not enough, we have a high level of inflation and insecurity to contend with on a daily basis.

“APBN as the umbrella Association for all professions in the country has the undisputable responsibility to continue to intensify its effort on advocacy and enlightenment. This is borne from the conviction that it is the professionals of any country that would develop it,” Olufemi said.

The ceremony was attended by key stakeholders from thirty (30) different professional bodies that make up the APBN.

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