Chris Steven, Abuja
As the Muhammadu Buhari administration continues its war against corruption, former president, Olusegun Obasanjo has said that the anti-graft war must be comprehensive and whole.
Speaking at the inaugural lecture of the Olusegun Obasanjo Good Governance and Development Research Center of the National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN in Abuja, the former president noted that corruption remains a strong enemy of progress and development.
Obasanjo, who delivered a lecture titled: “Leadership, good governance and the challenges of development in Nigeria: The way forward” called for the establishment of strong institutions.
His words: “Corruption is the enemy of progress and development. While it is true that there is corruption in every society, its pervasiveness, deleterious effects and debilitating impacts are more in societies with weak ethical frame works, rule of law and institutions to prevent and control corruption.
“The impact of corruption on the Nigerian society and economy has been devastating. It continues to affect the government’s ability to provide basic services and negatively impacts the well-being of the population and its ability to rise out of poverty.
“I know that each arm of government has its responsibility and we must respect the separation of powers under the constitution. At the same time, we must have an acute and common perception of our problem and do all that is necessary to mitigate the impact of corruption in our society. We must stop pointing accusing fingers, shifting blame or passing the buck. Indeed, the buck ends with everyone.”
The former president, who said that successive governments in the country have identified corruption as the enemy of development, noted that corruption has had a devastating impact on the Nigerian economy.
He said “In Nigeria, successive governments have identified corruption as the enemy of development and several efforts, including legislation and structures and institutions have been established to fight the cancer worm.
“Upon taking oath of office on 29th May 1999, I made my stand clear with respect to the issue of corruption and left no one in doubt regarding our genuine commitment to fight corruption to standstill.
“As a demonstration of leadership, we swung into action and rolled out powerful legislative tools for the fight against corruption, including the establishment of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act and established an Independent Commission (ICPC) to implement the law, the enactment of the Economic and Financial Crimes Act and the establishment of the EFCC which has become a model law enforcement agency in Africa.”
Vice-chancellor of the institution, Prof. Abdalla Adamu, in his remarks, said Chief Obasanjo’s leadership had been exemplary in the African Union, AU and ECOWAS community.
“His intervention proved critical in solving some of the problems that confronted us as an open and distance learning (ODL) institution,” he said.
A former president of Ghana, John Mahama, urged the centre to look into the challenges of leadership plaguing Africa.
“This center will have to research into many challenges of leadership in Africa. There is much responsibility on this centre in terms of rural urban migration,” Mahama said.
Also, a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Aloma Maryam Mukhtar, said NOUN has justified its establishment by government by opening up access to education in Nigeria.
The former CJN also said Obasanjo’s leadership in Nigeria had become enviable in the country.
“Chief Obasanjo’s contribution to leadership in Nigeria, AU, ECOWAS and other regions are exemplary,” she said.