Posted by Idowu Samuel, Abuja | 26 December 2015 | 4,232 times
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) is, of late, on the fast lane of trail blazing. Smarting from the high scores it recorded with the approach of fighting corruption by preventive measures, its new initiative of incorporating the Nigerian youths into anti- corruption war strikes as another means of closing the circle of good ideas on its desire to opening up participation in the war on corruption in the country.
Indeed, ICPC demonstrated ingenuity on its desire to raise the bar on the fight against corruption by forging a synergy with representatives of the youths on war against corruption. The Chairman, Barrister Ekpo Nta indicated this much when he said in his welcome address to the participants at the ICPC two-day National Conference Against Corruption in Abuja on November 24, 2015 that the idea of partnership with the Nigerian youths, indeed, originated from the youths.
An earlier public outing in Ibadan between ICPC officials and members of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) on the need to intensify fight against corruption yielded an initiative for an extended conference which the two agreed to organise. Suggestions to that effect came from the students, while ICPC took up the challenge to put the conference in place.
To underscore its huge interest in forging a synergy with the youths on the war against corruption, ICPC deployed a robust team of its officials headed by Professor Olu Aina to brainstorm with leaders of the Nigerian students on the need for a national conference to advance on the evolving initiative.
It was after this National Conference that Nigerians began to appreciate the necessity for collaboration between ICPC and the Nigerian youths on evolving a cutting-edge approach towards fighting corruption in Nigeria.
Speaker after speaker during the Conference themed ‘Mobilising The Nigerian Youths Against Corruption’ hailed the ICPC for taking up the challenge.
The Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs, Colonel Hamid Ibrahim Ali, and the Minister of Youths and Sports, Barrister Solomon Dalong, who read keynote addresses during the Conference, agreed that the ICPC and Nigerian youths synergy could not have come at a better time.
The guest speakers took time to educate the youths on the onerous responsibilities entrusted in them to fight corruption. They, indeed, impressed it on the youths to latch onto the platform already created for them to get involved in the fight, while they were entreated to take the lead in the process.
The Chief host, Ekpo Nta, was the most elated that the Conference with the youths held eventually. He expressed confidence in their ability to make the difference on the basis that doing so would enable them to stave off the dangers that acts of corruption in Nigeria hold against their future.
Ekpo Nta, from indications, will not let go of the opportunities that ICPC can derive from partnering with the youths to perform its primary constitutional responsibilities. He had already listed the successful outcome of the conference as an achievement.
The ICPC Chairman was of the view that the Commission had already been good to the youths before now. He alluded to the System Review of tertiary institutions in Nigeria by ICPC which he said led to the closure of 63 degree awarding institutions in Nigeria on the basis that they were fake.
He told participants at the conference that ICPC had also initiated anti-corruption curriculum in schools while also engaging the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) on the task of infusing national values on schools’ curriculum. He recalled also that ICPC and the Tertiary Education Funds TETfund had done well to raise the standard of infrastructures in the Nigerian tertiary institutions.
The Conference hit the right momentum during the opening ceremony when the Minister of Youths and sports Dalong addressed the youths on the high expectations by Nigerians on what they could do to bail out the country from corruption. His advice to the youths was considered germane given the role he had played in the past as the President of NANS.
Dalong hitting the nail on the head counselled the youths to desist from acts of corruption if indeed; they ever desired to take the lead in the fight against corruption. He condemned the growing consciousness in the Nigerian youths, including students for wealth acquisition in which case, he said, students leaders now preferred to ride in expensive cars and in convoys, hold their programmes in five-star hotels and above all live in opulence.
The minister noted that the crave for instant wealth by the youths has predisposed them to always cringe before money bags in the society, while they willingly offer themselves to be used as tools for inglorious purposes. He, indeed, entreated the youths to desist from getting enmeshed in acts of corruption, while they should rather take ownership of the fight against the vices of corruption right from their different institution down to the public arena.
The Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs spoke in the same vein when he said: “We must ensure the active participation of young public servants in the fight against corruption. The better future we hope to live belongs to the youths and it is only right that you play an active role in shaping it.”
He added: “This will, however, not come automatically to you. You must seize the opportunity and make the best out of platform the ICPC has created.”
The National Conference hit the right chord with presentation of papers on ‘Youths and Digital Age Corruption’, ‘The Youths and Education Sector Corruption’, ‘Promoting Integrity and Combating Corruption: The Role of the Youths’, ‘Empowering the Youths as Agents of Change’, and others.
The tone of discussions by guest speakers and discussants produced a sound communique meant to advance the cause of youths’ participation in the fight against corruption with the ICPC- the first of its kind in Nigeria.
The communique indicated that the anti-graft Commission has started the process by urging the youths, mostly students in the tertiary institutions to begin by monitoring the disbursement of the bailout funds released by the Federal Government to the states, while reporting any fraud associating with process of disbursements.
The youths are also to henceforth pay attention to cases of unnecessary increase of school fees by school administrations, police extortion, and other corrupt acts that affect students in their respective states.
The communique also indicated that ICPC will launch Campus Watchdog Initiatives to establish its presence and help the students fight tertiary institution-related corrupt acts.
The communiqué also stated, among others, that:
*That the teaching of the National Values Curriculum in schools should be intensified to ensure its widespread implementation across the educational system;
*That access to broadband Internet should be considered a human rights issue and be made available to all youths; while the relevant authorities martial out a comprehensive IT-based career development plan for the youths;
*That government should address the high tariffs charged by the GSM companies;
*That government should monitor the spending of internally generated revenues raised by school authorities through increased fees and levies;
*That religious organisations and institutions should be mobilised to join the crusade against corruption”
•Idowu Samuel who attended the National Conference on Youths Against Corruption, sent this piece from Abuja. Photo shows ICPC Chairman Ekpo Nta.
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