The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, has said that corruption must be reduced to the barest minimum in order for the country to make significant progress in its developmental plans.
Fayemi, who is also Chairman of the governing board of the Nigerian Extractives Industries Transparency Initiatives (NEITI) stated this at a seminar to commemorate the “2016 International Anti-Corruption Day’’ Friday, in Abuja.
The one day event has with theme: “Corruption: An impediment to the Sustainable Development Goals’’ and campaign slogan, “United Against Corruption’’, drew participants from the international community, development agencies, the bureaucracy and Non Governmental Organisations.
Fayemi said that corruption had serious debilitating effects, stressing that it does not only undermine development but also a major enabler for other crimes and anomalies, thereby perpetuating a vicious cycle.
The minister said the Federal Government had an array of legal framework and institutions to fight corruption as well as the commitment to nip it in the bud. He, however said that governments still had a lot more to do to effectively curtail corruption in the country.
He explained that the linkage of corruption to sustainable development was instructive because the essence of government was to ensure and guarantee development and well-being of citizens.
According to Fayemi, anything that is an impediment or likely to constitute an impediment to this goal must be fought with vigour.
He said: “The current administration is running an anti-corruption agenda anchored on prevention; public engagement; sanctions and enforcement and recovery of proceeds of corruption.
“The sanction and enforcement mechanism is ensuring that there are no sacred cows. For the first time in our history, perceived untouchables have been touched and people are voluntarily returning illicit acquired assets.
“We are now as a matter of routine assessing corruption risks in our institutions to reduce vulnerabilities likely to enable corruption and impede service delivery,’’ he said.
On solid minerals development, the Minister said concerted effort is being made to improve the resource base of the country in order to enhance development.
“We have now placed greater emphasis on developing the solid mineral sector. The recently released roadmap for the sector will ensure enhanced revenue for the government and the communities where these natural resources are located while ensuring transparency and accountability in the process”, he added.
Speaking further, the Minister said the government was also promoting beneficial ownership disclosures with emphasis on the extractive sector in order to ensure transparency and accountability in managing the countries resources.
He explained that Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) was working to develop an appropriate roadmap for those disclosures in accordance with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives (EITI) principles.
According to him, for the government to succeed in this fight, it must ensure effective implementation of the laws holistically and across board without fear or favour.
He said: “Pro-active efforts must be sustained to make corruption risk assessment and implementing remediation and integrity plans a culture within our MDAs.
“Ethical codes and procedures must be deployed and enforced, which will ensure service delivery, increase public confidence and get citizens involved in the fight against corruption.
“To effectively deploy preventive and sanction mechanisms, the anti-corruption and accountability institutions have to be adequately equipped with appropriate financial and human resources.
The Head, Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-Corruption Reform (TUGAR) , Ms Lilian Ekeanyanwu, in her contribution, said that corruption had remained a major impediment to national development as well as to the SDGs.
Ekeanyawu said that the theme of the year’s Anti-Corruption Day was designed to ensure that every citizen played active part in eliminating corruption and ensure rapid development in the society.
She said that corruption had impacted negatively on the development of the country, calling on the anti-corruption agencies to synergise in the fight against corruption.
The Inter-Agency Task Team (IATT), the coordinating forum of agencies with anti-corruption and accountability mandates with its secretariat at the Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-corruption Reforms (TUGAR) has since 2009 jointly celebrated the International Corruption Day.