President Muhammadu Buhari has consistently maintained that he wants to be remembered for killing corruption in Nigeria or at least, fighting it to a stand still whereupon it would no longer be viable or constitute a clog in the wheel of the political, social and economic development of the nation.
This is s tall but achievable ambition. Certainly he cannot do it alone. He has a plethora of anti-corruption agencies, security outfits and other law enforcement bodies to assist him. However, they too cannot achieve meaningful results without the support and cooperation of the people because corruption is largely a function of people’s attitude. It will thrive wherever people indulge in it or are incli ned to perpetrate and perpetuate it, for whatever reasons or motives.
Thus, any effort to successfully get rid of corruption in the country must be people centered and driven carrying along the critical stakeholders among the populace and enlisting their understanding, support and patriotic zeal for the task. This approach is what the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has adopted, with its recent announcement of plans to hold a national conference of Nigerian youths on action against corruption from the 24th to 26th November, 2015, at the National Conference Center, Abuja.
The special youth summit tagged “Mobilizing The Youths Against Corruption” is expected to provide a platform for in depth brainstorming on various ways the youths can be effectively mobilized to eradicate various forms of corruption. The conference will involve, among others, interactive sections where participants will bare their minds on individual experiences, perceptions and opinions on how to eradicate the menace.
It would be recalled that this is not ICPC’s first initiative to engage Nigerian youths in the fight against corruption. Over the years, the Commission had cultivated and sustained the interest of youths in the war through some interventions which led to the establishment of anti-corruption vanguards in tertiary institutions and anti-corruption clubs in secondary schools across the country. These interventions appeared to be primarily aimed at creating mass awareness about corruption and also generating a distaste for it among the youths as they grew up to join the larger society.
The new initiative coming up this month not only reinforces the earlier ones but also widens the scope to integrate all youth stakeholders into the crusade. This may ultimately lead to the creation of a formidable youth front or integrity army to decimate corruption through actual activism such as integrity campaigns, compliance monitoring, insistence on best practices, whistle blowing, refusal to be involved in corrupt practices as well taking deliberate actions to stop perpetrators.
Why are the youths relevant to the anti-corruption struggle? They are important because they represent the largest segment of the populace, between the elderly and the under-age. Their presence cuts across all sectors of national life. In the workplaces, they are the ones that are used to perpetrate or facilitate corrupt practices with or without their connivance. In their neighborhoods, they know people who are living beyond their means or engaging in unwholesome activities.
In their families, they know when their parents or uncles or aunts are corrupt though they may choose to be silent because they are also beneficiaries. More importantly, the future of the nation rests on them. If they stand aloof and allow corruption to destroy the present, they have no bright or prosperous future to look forward to.
We are all witnesses to the reminiscences of the older generation about the good old days and their lamentations over the pitiable state corruption has reduced the country to. In all of these, the youth have been the losers. They are the ones who have been roaming the streets seeking employment several years after graduating from school. Many of those who were lucky to find employment have had to do with very stressful but poorly paid jobs which cannot meet their needs.
And to add salt to injury, people would ask the unemployed youth to be creative and try self employment despite the fact that the parlous state of the economy has made fund raising for businesses almost impossible for established people let alone young people who have nothing to hold on to.
Indeed, the youths have a greater stake in the war to eradicate corruption than any other section of the Nigerian populace. It is actually their future that is at stake. The ICPC organized forum offers them an opportunity to step on board the war train and join President Buhari to free the nation and themselves from the evil called corruption.
Yinka Adelani wrote from Lagos