Chris Steven, Abuja
Action Aid Nigeria has blamed the rising incidence of poverty despite strong economic growth on the endemic levels of corruption in the country.
According to the Country Director, Action Aid Nigeria Mrs. Ojobo Atuluku who spoke on Tuesday in Abuja at the 2015 National Poverty Dialogue, titled : “Dealing with poverty and corruption in the change agenda,” the federal government must pay more attention to fighting corruption and eradication of poverty in the country.
She stated that fighting poverty without fighting corruption would be a futile effort on the part of the government.
“Our experience as an anti-poverty agency which holds the evidence that corruption is man made and can be eradicated, but have seen poverty increase in Nigeria in spite of economic growth and huge number of poverty alleviation has emphasised for us the need to pay attention to the relationship between corruption and poverty in Nigeria.”
While noting that while people were quick to blame the incidence of poverty in the country on corrupt practices among public officials, she said very few studies focusing on Nigeria’s experience had convincingly sustained this assertion or addressed the relationship between corruption and poverty.
The Country Director further said that the research conducted by Action Aid revealed that the type of corruption that leads to monumental levels of poverty in the country was being perpetrated by public officers, with the involvement of private sector.
Meanwhile, presenting his paper titled, ‘the relationship between corruption and poverty in Nigeria’, a resource person at the event, Mallam Yunusa Yau said that government has done badly in tackling corruption, stressing that, “the more democracy consolidates, the more corruption consolidates.”
He pointed out that the poverty level in the States where governors were found to be guilty of misusing and converting funds into private use was higher than states where governors were judicious in the use of public funds.
Yau added that corrupt behaviours eroded the institutional capacity of government in those states and their MDAs to deliver quality public service such as education, health, and other infrastructure.
Yau emphasised that the banking sector where the people thought their money would be save have been the hub of corruption for the past years.
He explained that while there is huge public outcry, and anger against corruption, there also appear to be huge feelings of helplessness and dependency, which are sometimes presented as tolerance of corruption.
Yau however advocated a process of monitoring corruption in order to ensure that the anti-graft agencies can act pro-actively rather than wait for people to make complaints.
He added that the Code of Conduct Bureau should ensure the compliance of the law with respect to the declaration of assets by public officials and promptly prosecute defaulters.