Former Vice president, Atiku Abubakar, has told the Presidency to hands off control of anti-graft agencies, including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), in order to ensure their independence.
Atiku said this in a paper on ‘Good governance and development: Notes on Nigeria’ he delivered at the second annual Convention of Abia State Medical Alumni Association, in London, United Kingdom.
He also said for corruption to be nipped in the bud, independent funding from the federal purse as well as reporting to the National Assembly will guarantee independence of the anti-graft agencies.
“Good governance in Nigeria will include a relentless effort to curb corruption in public life. And this should not be merely dealing with corruption after the fact. Perhaps more important are efforts to prevent corruption from taking place, especially through the removal of opportunities for corruption and imposing strong sanctions for the corrupt. Such efforts should also include ensuring the independence of the anti-corruption agencies through such measures as funding them through the first line charge in the consolidated revenue fund and having them report to the parliament.”
Speaking further on how good governance could be entrenched in Nigeria, the former vice president said there must be improvement in “security, including anti-terrorism, anti-kidnapping and anti-armed robbery, and efforts to end the herdsmen-farmers clashes. Fortunately, progress has been made in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency by the Buhari administration, but we need to also make progress on the others. All these security issues are broadly linked to economic challenges, and improvements in the latter will help in that regard.
“To improve good governance in Nigeria we also need to restructure the country’s federal system. This include fiscal federalism, devolution of powers to federating units and the restoration of state police to states that so desire. We might consider using the current geo-political zones as federating units since they are large enough to be more viable or we may consider a means-test for viability of states such that existing states that are unable to generate a specified percentage of their revenues from internal sources will be collapsed into other states. This will encourage the federating units to once more engage in productive activities and healthy rivalries.
“On the whole, good leadership is critical for good governance. This will involve leadership by example, a leadership that steers the country in a clear direction, is competent; has integrity and credibility; and is perceived as fair to all segments of the population.
“Effective opposition is critical for the maintenance of good governance and the deepening of democracy, which in turn, helps in the maintenance of good governance.
“Good governance will also require a vibrant and independent media. Nigeria has done reasonably well in this regard.
“I need to stress that these steps will not automatically take place. People, organised as a collective force, must demand these changes, deploy their democratic rights to select leaders who they believe will meet their aspirations, protect and defend their freedoms and hold their elected servants and governments to account,” he said.