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CSO alerts on possible diversion of public funds for 2023 poll

“Under this year’s theme, we are called as individuals to perceive the fight against corruption as our responsibility to fight for what is ours by right, and for common good.

By Angela Atabo

Peering Advocacy and Advancement Centre in Africa (PAACA), has alerted anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria on possible diversion of public funds by politicians for 2023 general elections.

Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu, the Executive Director, PAACA, said this in a statement marking the 2021 World Anti-corruption Day with the theme “Your Right, Your Role, Say No to Corruption” in Abuja on Thursday.

Nwagwu said that some politicians were believed to have stalled budget implementations in previous elections, thereby harming infrastructure development and impoverishing communities in the nation.

He said that the fight to achieve a corrupt-free Nigeria was a herculean task that demanded all inclusiveness to attain success.

“Under this year’s theme, we are called as individuals to perceive the fight against corruption as our responsibility to fight for what is ours by right, and for common good.

“As the theme suggests, government’s institutions, officials and civil servants must also play their part to deliver effectively on their mandates.

“While it remains pertinent to tackle cybercrimes, anticorruption agencies should be more proactive to investigate and prosecute government officials living above their means.

“This should also include heads of agencies indicted in annual audit reports by the office of the auditor general of the federation,” he said.

Nwagwu said that politicians in Nigeria were known to throw money recklessly when they vied for public offices.

He, therefore, urged anti-corruption agencies, including the code of conduct bureau, to up their games to protect the people against unscrupulous political and public officials poised to attack the commonwealth of the people.

He also called on the executive to revive its policies designed to support the eradication of corruption in Nigeria.

“We are reminded of our rights to quality education and healthcare, infrastructure, security, and a conducive environment for economic activities.

“We are reminded of the role we must play to enjoy these rights,’’ he said.

Nwagwu said that as individuals, the ability to reject corruption, stemmed from the desire to participate in governance, to oversee the conduct and activities of government, especially in budget preparation and implementation.

He said that the fight against corruption was a fight for accountability in government and that government institutions needed to be accountable to the people in carrying out their tasks as well as implementing budgets.

He said that the role of the people in provoking accountability could not be over-emphasised adding that citizens should yearn for their voices to be heard and deliberately engage government institutions on accountability and good governance.

Nwagwu called on community members, women, traditional and religious leaders, labour and trade unions to demand their rights and say no to corruption by taking a stand against the spate of abandoned projects in their communities and states.

He explained that these projects, most of which full payments had been made, were often abandoned due to weak oversight by community members, while funds get diverted, leaving communities to suffer the consequences arising from the lack of such projects.

He said that it had become important to create sustainable platforms that would expand and promote grassroots engagement and oversight, specifically on budget implementation and capital project execution in various communities.

He said that this would curb the proliferation of abandoned projects in states, reduce waste and diversion of public funds.

“On this auspicious day, PAACA hereby unveils an accountability campaign called #NaMyCommunitybeThis.

“This campaign provides the platform for community members to actively track abandoned projects in their locality by reporting such projects, advocating for their completion, and monitoring the process using the hashtag #SnapAndSend.

“ Using this hashtag members of the public will expose abandoned capital projects reflecting in state and national budgets and instigate public pressure to push for their completion,’’ he said.

Nwagwu said that videos and pictures would be documented in the campaign website www.abandonprojects.ng .

He said that the campaign was aimed at motivating community members to engage governments and demand improved infrastructure development in their states.

He added that the campaign would work closely with community members in 36 states, including the FCT to document abandoned projects in all communities, and monitor budget performance to ensure proper execution.(NAN)