The fight against corruption will not be won without tackling retail corruption, says Professor Sadiq Isah Raad, Executive Secretary, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), who stated this at a one day virtual stakeholders’ dialogue on effective and sustainable strategies for combating retail corruption. Prof. Raad, who represented Professor Itsey Sagay, Chairman of PACAC, says retail corruption is the type of  corruption experienced everyday by ordinary Nigerians when going about their normal business or when trying to access government services. 

Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman of ICPC

PACAC, according to Prof. Raad, believes that retail corruption  should be given the same focus as grand corruption that usually involves huge sums of money and politically exposed persons. “As a country, we should reject the idea of scavenging on one another. We believe retail corruption should be tackled because it will add value to people’s lives while also fostering a sense of patriotism among the citizenry” he asserts.

How to check it? The executive secretary says citizens should be law abiding and respect processes and procedures.”If everyone can be law abiding, we will have little or no corruption. If the law says pay your taxes, you should pay your taxes. We should follow laid down rules and processes when accessing government services” he surmises. To achieve this, “we should re-examine our values as a country. Every Nigerian should imbibe good values and not necessarily wait for law enforcement to push them into doing what is right”.

In providing and accessing public services, the PACAC scribe believes technology will play a leading role in minimizing retail corruption and engendering trust in government by reducing contact between government officials in charge of providing services and citizens who access such services. Officials should feel obligated to do the right thing while advising that people treat others the way they want their family to be treated.

In his keynote address, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), who was represented by Dr Grace Chinda, Board member of ICPC says the enduring nature of retail corruption has shaped social norms and has become acceptable as Nigerians have developed a higher level of tolerance for it. Many Nigerians, he says view the fight against corruption as successful through the lens of grand corruption that recover stolen assets and nets politically exposed persons. 

To combat it, the ICPC chair suggests a top-down and bottom-up approach where not only legislation and policies are made but also through citizen engagement. ICPC according to Prof Owasanoye has engaged in dialogue to promote good and ethical values of Nigerian citizens with the strategy of prevention, enforcement and education. For example, he says the ICPC has developed a curriculum that identifies 12 core values to be taught in schools while also engaging with some government agencies to monitor processes such as National Identification Number (NIN) registration, FRSC driver’s license registration and clearing at the ports among others. “The way to go is to have zero-tolerance for corruption” he submitted.

In his goodwill message, Senate committee chairman on anti-corruption and financial crimes, Senator Suleiman Abdul-Kwari represented by his advisor, Ashley Emenike, expressed the readiness of the National Assembly to provide the necessary support to anti-corruption agencies in the fight against corruption through legislation and advocacy in order to cascade government policy and legislation down to the state and local governments. The senator who also chairs the Nigerian chapter of the Global Programme Against Corruption, a United Nations led initiative to combat corruption says the body has registered 30 state chapters which are headed by speakers of the respective state Houses of Assembly of the affected states with the aim of leading a frontal attack against corruption through legislation and advocacy.

By Osaze Omoragbon


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