By Abiemwense Moru
Ambassador of France in Nigeria, Mr Dennis Guaer, gave lessons today on the strategy employed by his country in eliminating political and financial corruption.
He spoke in Abuja on Tuesday at the opening of a four-day conference on the “Role of the Legislature in the Fight Against Corruption in Nigeria’’. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, sent a representative to the conference.
Guaer said that while it is not easy for an ambassador to comment on a touchy subject such as corruption, nobody is immuned to its adverse effects.
He gave an insight into how France was able to tackle political corruption by taking charge of funding of political parties and creating a ceiling for electioneering spending.
“In France, after many abuses, parliament introduced certain legislations. Parties are now funded by the state.
“Individual candidates are no longer allowed to source funds for campaign independent of their parties and no one candidate can spend beyond the equivalent of N2.5 million to campaign,’’ Guaer added.
“It is also of note that Nigeria with its enormous oil revenue over the years has not been able to build viable infrastructure due to corruption by people in government.
“It should be seen as a symptom of a greater illness in a society. So the launch of “Change Begins with Me’’ initiative should be seen as a veritable vehicle for fighting corruption.
“A situation where people are celebrated without their sources of income being scrutinised breeds tendencies for corrupt behaviour in the society.
“The society must send a clear message by building strong institutions that work to discourage crime and its tendencies.’’
Head of Cooperation of the European Union in Nigeria, Mr Kurt Cornelius, said that corruption constituted one of the most important challenges that confronted developing nations like Nigeria.
According to him, EU is working hard in collaboration with various arms of government to help Nigeria in achieving its drive to eradicate it.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, said the present administration had done well in the anti-corruption fight and urged Nigerians to support the government.
Dogara, who was represented by the Chairman, House Committee on Financial Crimes, Rep. Kayode Oladele, said that the difference between the present government and its predecessors was the political will to fight corruption.
According to him, it is not because of what we are saying but what we are doing. And, as the saying goes, he who comes to equity must come with clean hands.
“It must be noted that the fight against corruption is not being waged by only one arm.
“The National Assembly, therefore, has decided to key into the anti-corruption drive of the present administration.’’
The conference was organised by the National Assembly in conjunction with the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption.
Editing by Morayo Omolade and Olisa Ifeajika(NAN)