The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, said the country needed strong, independent, decentralised and impartial anti-corruption agencies, operating within rules and tradition.
Ekweremadu said this at a public service lecture he delivered at the University of Ibadan on Friday night.
The lecture, which was organised by the university’s alumni association, held at the Trenchard Hall of the institution.
Ekweremadu spoke on “Federalism and The Legal Framework for Combating Corruption in Nigeria.”
He said that strong anti-corruption institutions would give hope to citizens, adding that issues of corruption and the concerns were as old as Nigeria itself.
According to him, corruption has shown no sign of abating in Nigeria in spite of the various anti-corruption efforts by successive governments.
“Dealing with corruption is difficult and challenging, but it is not without hope either.
“We need a far-reaching and in-depth re-orientation. Importantly, Nigeria being a federation, the war against corruption must itself be developed and generalised, not centralised as it is currently the case.”
Ekweremadu said that the country should allow each state to set up its own policing system as it was the norm in other federal jurisdictions such as the United States and Canada.
“Decentralised policing will make the task of preventing, detecting, investigating and prosecuting certain offences and small scale corruption matter easier,” he said.
According to him, the state police itself will absorb unemployed youths and lessen the incidents of fraud while the incident of corruption is easily detected and tracked.
He therefore called for the moving of policing in the country to the concurrent list to enable the fight against corruption and other ills in the society to succeed.
Ekweremadu said as much as it was easy to point accusing fingers at the elite in public and private sector, the nation must embark on individual soul-search.
He said that such soul-search should be from the highest to the lowest of the social economic strata.
He said that the search would be from clerks who would “never trace your file unless you grease their palms’’.
According to Ekweremadu, it will go all the way to security men who would not let you in or claim that `oga no dey’ if you are not the type that part with `kola` each time you visit.
He said that Section 15 (5) of the 1999 Constitution as amended stated that “the state shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power’’.
“However, the arduous responsibility of abolishing all corrupt practices and abuse of power can never be possible without the right political will and cooperation by Nigerians,” he said.
According to him, for the anti-graft fight to succeed, the political will to prosecute it must be blind to political affiliation, friendship, ethnicity, religion and family.
“It must not only be immune to selectiveness, parochialism, nepotism and double standards, but must be able to command the goodwill, support and legitimacy required to win the battle,” he said.