By Fortune Abang
The Federal Government, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and UN Women have stressed the need for collective efforts in the fights against corruption.
This was made known at the high-level workshop entitled: “Gender Dimension of Anti-corruption in Nigeria” against the backdrop of 2021 16-day of activism to end Gender-based violence on Monday in Abuja.
The event was organised by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), EFCC, NORAD, UN Women and Technical Unit on Government Anti-Corruption Report (TUGAR).
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, represented by Mrs Maryam Uwais, Special Advisor, Social Investment in the Presidency, Office of the Vice President, said corruption often hinders Nigeria’s growth.
Osinbajo said, “highlighting the issue of gender is a timely and most pertinent topic to explore and interrogate the avenues for enhancing efforts in battling corruption, not only in Nigeria but the world in general.
“It is a pity for me to speak in this audience about how corruption as a hydra-headed monster has undermined the very fabric of our society; corruption continues to constitute a serious threat to good governance.
“Also, to Rule of Law, peace and security, particularly, developmental programmes aimed at tackling poverty and socioeconomic vulnerabilities.
“What could be invested and utilized to tackle poverty and facilitate attainment of SDGs, address broad human capital indices are diverted to serve the vested interest of a greedy and selfish minority.
“To compound matters, corruption defies access to basic services in a country like ours. To combat this menace, this administration through leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has reeled measures to achieve targets.”
He explained such measures to include conduct of regular experience-based anti-corruption surveys, to appreciate the issues in the bid to avoid pitfalls and encourage use of technologies in major projects.
He listed the projects to be in sectors such as oil transportation, power, health, education and other sectors, the implementation of the Treasury Single Account.
Others include supporting the revitalization of anti-corruption agencies, such as the EFCC, ICPC, NEITI and so many others.
He said that the corruption reports of 2019 place demand, which gender plays a significant role on how gender manifests and issues that border on corruption can be controlled.
He further stressed the need to sensitise Nigerians on relevant issues about corruption, mainstream gender balance in policies and law, and to increase the number of women in managerial positions.
Speaking at the event, Representative of UN Women, Ms Comfort Lamptey, said that the subject of anti-corruption is very critical for the realisation of Nigeria’s development aspiration.
According to her, corruption could hinder efforts aimed at achievement of SDGs; weaken political institutions and deprive citizens of fundamental rights and increase their loss of confidence in governance.
Lamptey said, “In disproportionate effect of corruption further deepens gender inequality and women are oftentimes vulnerable to the effects of corruption.
“The findings from the gender and corruption in Nigeria reports of December, 2020 reveals that 41 per cent of respondents were women and men perceived body currency in exchange of sexual favour.
“To return for preferential treatment, as something that happen most frequently in Nigeria and almost 30 per cent think it happens fairly frequently.
“30 per cent accounted that they fell uncomfortable relating these, as sexual exploitation also known as extortion, occurs at the intersection of corruption on one hand as gender-based violence and sexual abuse,” she said.
She suggested that there should be a more functional justice system, to tackle issues that surround corruption, to proffer lasting solutions to the problem in the country.
Also speaking, the Executive Chairman of EFCC, Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa, expressed the commission’s resolve to stem fights against corruption, saying that such militate national growth.
Bawa was represented by Ms Hadiza Zubairu, Chief of Staff to the Executive Chairman of EFCC.
“No nation can consider itself free if there is marginalization or gender-based violence; men and women are created to play complementary roles, and none can function effectively without the other.
“It is only by mainstreaming women and encouraging them to contribute towards the growth and development of the country that total fights against corruption can be achieved.
“This, therefore, calls for reorientation and reconstruction of our mindsets, we need a collaborative system for women to foster and for our society to thrive, and be free from financial crimes.
“Corruption is neither masculine nor feminine, but a by-product of an opportunity,” Bawa said.
Meanwhile, Dr Oliver Stolpe, Representative of UNODC Nigeria, attributed data garnered for the reports on gender and corruption in Nigeria to efforts to the organisation and the National Bureau of Statistics.
According to him, one of the reports was conducted in 2016 with the support of the European Union, while the second one was conducted in 2019 with support of the government of the U.K.
“Both times, around 33000 people were interviewed and there was a large surge survey being conducted, essentially to get to the bottom of the experiences of various Nigerians in various states.
“These statements were put under specific gender analysis and that was done in 2020, what we really got is how does corruption affect and involve women and men differently in the country?” Stolpe said.
The event featured panel-sessions on corruption prevention and good governance; does gender-responsive public policy mean less corruption and gender, elections in Nigeria; empowering women, and youths to effect change through their votes.
The event attracted stake holders from various government MDAs, diplomatic community and civil society organisations. (NAN)