By Stephen Adeleye. The Socio Economic Research and Development Centre (SERDEC), has urged religious and traditional leaders to display an exemplary leadership worthy of emulation by their followers and be effective in tackling corruption in the public space. Mr Tijani Abdulkareem, the Executive Director of SERDEC, gave the advice at Anti-Corruption Conference in Lokoja, with the theme: ”Exploring Alternative Approach Toward Tackling Corruption; the Role of Traditional and Religious Institutions”. The conference was organized by SERDEC with support and funding from the Africa Centre for Environment & Economic Justice (ANEEJ) and UKAID-DFID. He said the conference was for stakeholders to discuss possible ways to tackle corruption through behavioural change approach, develop religious and traditional narratives that would counter corrupt practices as a solution. He noted that corruption was manifested in different dimensions in both private and lives ranging from electoral malpractice, poor service delivey, contract inflation, bribery, money laundering, stealing, immoral behaviours, among others. According to him, corruption has become systemic and endemic in Nigeria because most of those perpetrating corruption are religious affiliates whose religion’s doctrines abhor corruption. He noted that in spite the level of religiousness in the country, corruption has been well celebrated with solidarity, titles, front sit recognition and leadership role for the perpetrators.
He opined that the traditional and religious leaders were the custodian of our customs & values, saying they should be seen to propagate moral aptitude, expected to reduce the spread of social vices that breeds corruption in the society.
He, therefore, urged religious and traditional leaders to be effective in tackling corruption in the public space, adding that injustice and lack of accountability in worship places and communities must be eradicated.
“It is imperative for religious and traditional leaders to sanctify themselves and be free from the faces of corruption in order to display an exemplary leadership worthy of emulation by their followers. “We hope this conference will create a network of traditional and religious leaders, who will integrate the values of uprightness in their teachings and actions,” he said.
Presenting a paper, titled: ”The Role of Citizens in the Fight against Corruption”, Mr. Chile Ogwuegbe, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) State Commissioner, noted that no government could successfully fight corruption without the citizens taking ownership of the fight to eliminate the graft. According to him, the success of the anti-corruption war depends mainly on the efficacy of anti-corruption legislators, judiciary’s pronouncement and conviction of proven corrupt persons, commitment from general awareness and resolve by the masses to stop impunity by corrupt elements. On his part, Dr.Akowe Joel, in his presentation, titled: ”The Role of Religious and Traditional Institution in tackling Corruption”, he urged the religious and traditional leaders to be apolitical, but serve as a mediator and advocates of peace and corrupt free society. In their separate goodwill messages, the representatives of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC), National Orientation Agency (NOA), Council of ULAMA, Jamatu Nasril Islam (JNI), and Ohimege of Koto-Karfe, all advocated for collective collaboration among families, governments, religious leaders and the people to ensure a corrupt-free society.
The conference was well attended by stakeholders from the civil society organisation, religious groups, traditional institutions, government agencies,, the media, among others.