By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA- AN international humanitarian organisation, ActionAid Nigeria intensified its anti-corruption crusade by sensitising electorates across the country ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The Country Director, ActionAid, Nigeria, Ene Obi, at a seminar organised by ActionAid Nigeria in collaboration with Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-Corruption Reforms, TUGAR, of the Presidency, UKAid, US Embassy in Nigeria and other international development partners such as UNODC, British Council and European Union in commemorating the International Anti-Corruption Day 2018 in Abuja, said they would not slow down the fight against all forms of corruption in the country.
Ene, in her keynote address lamented negative effects that corruption has caused progress and development in Nigeria over the years, which have assumed frightening dimension that has plunged majority of the populace into deep poverty and pain.
She said: “Prevalence of corruption and corrupt practices in the country has been the root cause of poverty amongst the citizens. It’s a fight we must keep fighting until we win.
“It is quite disheartening to know that currently Nigeria is being tagged the poverty capital of the world, in other words, our country is listed amongst the countries of the world with highest level of poverty which is largely due to corruption.”
Meanwhile, the country director urged Nigerians to shun vote selling and buying including her forms of election corruption before and during the 2019 general elections.
“We must collectively and decisively do what is right by refusing to sell our votes thereby discouraging the menace of vote-buying during the elections”, she stated.
Also speaking was the Commissioner for Public Complaint Commission represented by an official in the Commission, Ewa Udu, explained activities and it’s preparedness in curbing corruption during the forthcoming elections in 2019.
Udu diclosed that the Commission being an Ombudsman will deploy its staff across 774 Local governments to ensure that electoral materials are evenly distributed.
“We currently have structures across the 36 states and Local Governments Areas and our intention is to deploy our staff across the 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria to ensure that electoral materials are evenly distributed and that candidates are fairly treated and that none is shortchanged of any voting materials”, Udu said.
He also made it known to participants that vote-buying and selling during the elections will be curbed to its bearest minimum following the synergy created by anti-graft agencies will ensure that candidates of political parties do not have their way with vote-buying and selling.
The Programme Officer, ActionAid Nigeria, Newton Omatse, said sensitization will be taken to every part of the country in order for the electorates to have proper understanding of the implication of vote-buying and selling, and for them to be conscious of the electoral process.
“Sensitisation is quite important at this stage in Nigeria, there is need to inform the citizens that their votes are their rights and not for sale”.
Also as part of activities to mark the International Anti-Corruption Day, two secondary schools, Rabertor School and Centagon School engaged each other with debate, which the topic was ‘How Election Processes in Nigeria Encourages Corruption’, which Raberto Schoool emerged winner and was given a trophy and other consolation prizes.