Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement in Africa (YIAGA Africa), says Nigeria has lost no fewer than $582 billion to corruption since attaining independence in 1960.
YIAGA Programme Manager, Cynthia Mbamalu, who spoke during the National Debate Competition on Anti-Corruption on Anti-Corruption, added that about N1.3trn of public funds has been reportedly laundered between 2011 and 2015 alone.
Mbamalu added that the development isn’t surprising considering the fact that the nation ranks 149th out of 179 countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index for 2020.
She said the debate is part of the bounce corruption initiative launched by Yiaga Africa in 2017 to mobilize 20 million Nigerians in the fight against corruption and call for accountability.
According to her, through the debates, the views of young Nigerians will be harnessed for combating corruption and propagating the values of integrity, transparency, and accountability.
She stressed that a report released in December 2019 by the National Bureau of Statistics on corruption in Nigeria revealed that young people are most likely to give or receive bribes, with at least 60% acknowledging paying bribes for a variety of reasons, including to obtain a government service, speed up a procedure or avoid paying a fine.
“When this data is placed side-by-side with the high rate of youth unemployment and underemployment which is 42percent and 21percent in a country which has millions of young people finishing their studies with no job prospects, it further increases the pressure on them to offer bribes in order to secure jobs,” she said.
“As such, it has become important to engage young Nigerians on how to fight corruption and enshrine integrity, accountability, and transparency into the fabric of our society, and in our public and private sectors.
“As the group that suffers most from the effects of corruption, young people can be instrumental in the fight against corruption in Nigeria and using peer influence to spread values of transparency and accountability.”
The Secretary of the National Union of Campus Journalists (NUCJ), Uchenna Igwe, who lamented that corruption appears in every issue facing the nation today, maintained that there is hardly a section of society it has not pervaded.
The menace, he added, was destroying most things indispensable for human and capital development and reducing people to the depths of poverty that are still unimaginable.