By Idris Akinbajo
March 24, 2010 07:04AM
(2nd L-R)Abdur-Rahman Ahmad, Tunde Bakare, and Uchenna Idoko at the consultative forum organised by the Movement Against Corruption

Tunde Bakare, activist and the pastor of the Latter Rain Assembly, has described some religious leaders as promoters of corruption.

Mr. Bakare spoke yesterday at a 'Consultative Forum on Curbing the Burden of Corruption: Challenges to the Nigerian State,' organised by the Movement Against corruption (MAC), a coalition of civil society groups and faith based organisations in Abuja. Like others at the event, he prescribed different ways of tackling Nigeria's corruption problems.

'Except the people of this nation are willing to take their destiny into their hands, and hold the corrupt and perverse leadership accountable, I do not think we will see the end of this situation so soon.

Because, in a situation where (some) pastors in churches and clerics in the mosque everywhere are benefitting from the corruption that is so endemic in our nation, they will not be part of the group that will fight it. They will be part of the group that will protect it,' he stated.

Mr. Bakare berated past Nigerian leaders, saying that 'rather than deal with the root causes, our leaders over time have tried either to rebrand our tattered image or rebuild our national reputation, forgetting that those who are overly interested in recognition have no character.'

The pastor, who is also the convener of the Save Nigeria group, described the secrecy surrounding the health status of our president, Umaru Yar'Adua, as an act of corruption.

'It is the depth and height of corruption for us not to know what has happened to our president, even up till now. A man is sick, a man is sick. A man cannot continue, he cannot continue. But we have all kinds of things because telling the truth is no longer part of our national consciousness,' Mr. Bakare stated.

Anti-corruption efforts are waning
Abdur-Rahman Ahmad, the president of MAC and spiritual leader of the Ansar-udeen Society of Nigeria (an Islamic organisation), condemned the recent performance of Nigeria's anti-corruption agencies.

'In the last few years, the style and the fight against corruption in Nigeria has taken a nosedive. It has slowed down considerably. It is the responsibility of civil society to ensure that the issue of corruption is in the front burner,' he said.

Also, Uchenna Udoko of the Centre for Democracy and Development, said that glorification of corruption promotes corruption too.

'One of the basic causes of corruption is the show of affluence, especially by politicians, and the way we glorify them in churches, with chieftaincy titles; and people will look at them and say: I want to be like that,' Mrs. Udoko stated.

Take corruption battle to schools
Mrs. Udoko explained that, apart from bringing corrupt public holders to book, corruption can be addressed by 'taking the anti-corruption crusade to secondary schools'. She added that 'we should begin to build activists and change agents in children and young ones.'

Chido Onumah, the coordinator of 'Make Your Votes Count', identified corruption as a reason for Nigeria's electoral instability.

'One of the areas in this country where corruption is most pervasive is the electoral process. It is corruption that has nurtured the system. It is corruption that has made it impossible for us to have a free and fair election,' Mr. Onumah stated.

He also explained that his organisation was continuing with its ongoing peaceful protest demanding the removal of Maurice Iwu, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) because 'having an unbiased INEC chair is the minimum condition we need for a free, fair and credible election in this country. We are not saying that if we have a good INEC chairman or chairwoman tomorrow, the problem of this country will be solved.'