Lack Of Transparency Promotes Corruption In Nigeria -Ex British Foreign Secretary

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By Olusegun Emmanuel, Abuja.

For the war against corruption in Nigeria to be fought and won by government and the people,  there must be transparency in governance at all levels and incorruptible judiciary to give  appropriate penalties to apprehended corrupt officials, said the former British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw.

Jack Straw who made the declaration on Wednesday in Abuja during an interaction with Senators on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), said the absence of transparency in government breed corruption.

He counseled the oppositions in the country to use its voice in a democracy to bring about good governance, urging Nigeria to copy the British approach to fighting corruption by meting out stiffer penalties to corrupt officials.

According to him, allowing for transparency in governance and having  clean courts to handle corruption related cases in the land, corruption   will go a long way in reducing corruption in the country

He said:” There’s need to raise the penalty for corruption in Nigeria. You have anti-corruption laws, you have great laws and you jail people on corruption and you ensure proper transparency; then, it’s safe to say that people would stop being corrupt. You’ve got to change the quality of your public administration.

“One of the encouraging signs about Nigeria is the fact that you have effective and viable opposition because democracy requires that there’s change. In democracy, there are alternatives…

“What message can I give you about opposition? Well, first of all, you can change the weather in opposition. Although you’ve not got the votes, you’ve got the voice as you make the better use of the voice; you get public support, then you start to unnerve the government”

He however challenged the opposition lawmakers to get quality manifestos and should not mistake the quantity of policies for quality of policies just as chided former elections in Nigeria describing the 2011 elections as better than the rest but it didn’t meet international standards.

“The second thing is that you cannot just wait for the government to be unpopular…you have to fight crime, tackle health problems, deal with immigration and ensure transparency in government.

“Leadership is about character, but if you don’t have the right leaders, who have the right characters, the right backbone, then, it won’t work. He won’t have the qualities to bring out the best in people who would work with him.

“Of course, elections are fought through the prisms of leaders…don’t mistake quantity of policies for quality of policies”, he added.

Meanwhile in attendance Wednesday in the opposition meeting with the former Foreign Secretary were Senators Bukola Saraki, Danjuma Goje, Ali Ndume, Abdullahi Adamu and Umaru Dahiru, who were among the 11 PDP Senators in the Senate whose defection to APC was yet to receive the official nod of the Senate President, David Mark as required by law.

But the Senators maintained that they were already in the APC as they openly participated in the just concluded registration exercise of the APC and openly identifying with the opposition lawmakers during the interactive session with Mr. Straw.

Speaking earlier on behalf of the opposition MPs, Senate minority leader, Senator George Akume said the opposition was worried about the lack of transparency in governments and corruption in high places.

He said Mr. Straw was visiting at a time Nigeria was witnessing unprecedented security challenges saying, “Life is now becoming poor, brutish and short and that we cannot guarantee the security of our citizens as a government.  Large part of the North Eastern  states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe are under siege with a very slow progress in tackling the terrorists. It is very rough.”