YIAGA Africa on Tuesday disclosed that Nigeria has lost at least $582 billion since independence due to endemic corruption.
YIAGA Programme Manager, Cynthia Mbamalu, who disclosed this in Abuja during the National Debate Competition on Anti-Corruption further disclosed that about N1.3 trillion of public funds was reportedly laundered between 2011 and 2015 alone.
According to Mbamalu, the development is not surprising due to the fact that the nation ranked 149th out of 179 countries on the 2020 Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International.
Mbamalu explained that the debate was part of the bounce corruption project which was launched by Yiaga Africa in 2017 to mobilize 20 million Nigerians in the fight against corruption and demand for accountability.
She maintained that through the debates, the views of young Nigerians would be harnessed into the fight against corruption as well as for propagating the values of integrity, transparency, and accountability.
“Not only that, a December 2019 report by the National Bureau of Statistics on the patterns and trends of corruption in Nigeria revealed that young people are most likely to give or receive bribes, with at least 60percent admitting to having given bribes. These bribes are given for a variety of reasons, but most especially to obtain a government service, speed up a procedure or avoid paying a fine,” Mbamalu said.
“When this data is placed side-by-side with the high rate of youth unemployment and underemployment which is 42percent and 21percent in a country, which has millions of young people finishing their studies with no job prospects, it further increases the pressure on them to offer bribes in order to secure jobs.
“As such, it has become important to engage young Nigerians on how to fight corruption and enshrine integrity, accountability, and transparency into the fabric of our society, and in our public and private sectors.
“As the group that suffers most from the effects of corruption, young people can be instrumental in the fight against corruption in Nigeria and using peer influence to spread values of transparency and accountability.”
On his part, the National Union of Campus Journalists (NUCJ), Secretary, Uchenna Igwe, who lamented that corruption can be noticed in every challenge facing the country today, maintained that there is hardly any section that it has not pervaded, adding that the menace was destroying most things necessary for human and capital development and confining the people to the most desperate levels of poverty.
According to Igwe, it is the main reason why Nigeria struggles to feed and provide jobs for its citizens, as the cost of living continues on a steady rise.
“Due to the greed and corruption of a few, hundreds of thousands of lives are lost annually to preventable diseases, crime and insecurity.
“The government has put in place measures to anti-corruption. However, there’s an urgent need for citizens to get involved.
“As young people, we must rise to the occasion, and contribute to stemming the tide of the challenges that plague our nation. We owe this as a duty to ourselves, and the children we had have in the years to come.
“If the foundation of the issues we face today are consequences of the actions and inactions of the older generation, then it leaves little to imagination what would be if we do nothing today.
“I charge us not to be drowned by the illusion of “tomorrow”. Why wait for tomorrow to tackle the issues of today? Problem no dey finish. If we do nothing about today’s challenges, they will compound just like house chores, leaving even much more to do. I’m sure we’ll agree that the lesser we have to tackle at the time, the easier and better for us all.
“We must shun and condemn corrupt practices, imbibe good values and lead good examples in our homes, campuses, hostels, workspaces, religious and social fellowships, even as we interact with people in our communities every day.
“We must speak out and speak up. Then, we must also walk the talk. Corruption will not budge if we don’t get actively involved,” he said.