REPORTER: CHINAZO ILECHUKWU
Traditional rulers, religious leaders and civil society groups have been challenged to use their positions as conscience of the society to bring positive behavioural changes to their communities.
The Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, gave the charge in a message to a one-day dialogue on “Behavioural Change, National Ethics, Integrity, Policy, Constituency and Executive Project Tracking Initiative” held in Owerri.
The dialogue was part of efforts by ICPC to reawaken the consciousness of traditional rulers, religious bodies and the civil society on their expected roles in the fight against corruption.
Professor Owasanoye, whose message was delivered by the representative of the south east zone in the ICPC Board, Senator Anthony Agbo, described corruption as the bane of the society, noting that winning the war required the collaborative effort of every Nigerian.
The Resident Anti-corruption Commissioner in charge of Imo and Abia States, Mr. Peter Alumbugu, who gave a lecture on the programme, said time had come for royal fathers, religious leaders and members of the civil society to partner ICPC in holding public office holders accountable to check incidences of abandoned projects.
He charged the participants to always track constituency projects approved for them by the government to ensure value for money, avoid celebrating individuals who amassed wealth through questionable means and publicly condemn corrupt practices in the society.
The Imo State Coordinator of the National Orientation Agency, Mrs. Maureen Oparaji, explained that the agency was taking the anti-corruption campaign to secondary schools to inculcate good morals in young ones.
The Chairman Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Emmanuel Okeke, represented by the traditional ruler of Nkwesi, Professor Dele Odigbo, decried greed among Nigerians but however expressed optimism that Nigeria would surmount her challenges.
A Muslim cleric, Ibrahim Bello, and a representative of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Professor Chinwe Alisi, canvassed stiffer penalties for those found guilty of corruption to serve as deterrents.
Some of the participants called for constitutional roles for traditional rulers, noting that the measure would help to strengthen the fight against corruption.
The programme, which was organised by the ICPC in conjunction with the National Orientation Agency (NOA), was attended by royal fathers, community leaders, faith based organisations and members of the civil society.
EDITED BY CHUKWUBUIKE MADU