In December 2019, 12-year-old Blessing Ejindu of Battle Axe Academy and young anti-corruption champion expressed the effects of corruption on youths in her poem titled “Say No to Corruption”.
The poem reads in part reads: “Corruption! Corruption!! You have destroyed the solid foundation of this great Nation; Oh, wicked corruption! You have put our youth in bad condition. And made our Constitution useless.”
Also, in 2019, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) with the support of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) conducted the second corruption survey in Nigeria under a UK funded project. The report, which was launched on December 6, 2019, revealed that the prevalence of bribery reaches its peak in the 25-34 and the 35-49 age groups.
The findings also show that a considerable share of successful applicants for posts in the public sector resorted to either bribery and/or nepotism to secure employment. More specifically, 32% of successful applicants admitted that they had paid a bribe to facilitate their recruitment into the public service, as opposed to 16% in 2016.
It is against this background and in recognition of the role of youth as one of the vanguards of anticorruption that the UNODC, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports and the National Bureau of Statistics, organised the Youth Anti-Corruption Forum to discuss the findings of the second corruption survey report in Nigeria with a view to identifying policy implications and discuss concrete ways in which youth can be empowered in the fight against corruption.
Representing the UNODC, Prof. Shehu Abdullahi acknowledged some of the considerable anti-corruption gains made by government Ministries, Departments and Agencies. He further expressed optimism in the light of a growing number of Nigerian youths considering corruption inacceptable under any circumstances.
At the same time, he observed that while the prevalence of administrative, mostly low-value, bribery has decreased from 32% in 2016 to 30% 2019, the survey suggests that the government’s anti-corruption agenda is yet to affect this type of bribe seeking behaviour more fundamentally. Consequently, greater efforts might be needed to eradicate small scale corruption which continues to have a profound effect on the lives of Nigerians. He further expressed the hope that the survey would make an important contribution in the fight against corruption in terms of further enhancing its effectiveness and benefits for the people of Nigeria.
Ms. Linda Gande, Senior Researcher at the NBS, encouraged all to engage more with the results and data from the survey report in developing effective anticorruption programmes and interventions.
Mr. Boniface Emmanuel of the National Youth Parliament (NYP) stated that the job of the reorientation and reconstruction of the Nigeria economy cannot be done by government alone and must include the youth.
Dr. Garba Abari, Director-General of the National Orientation Agency, represented by Mr. Enoh D. Uyoh, Director, NOA, Akwa-Ibom state, stated there was a need to mobilise youths to be a compelling force that will call for and ensure consistent accountability of the government. He encouraged youths present to take the forum seriously and ensure they utilise the knowledge and experiences in becoming agents of change who are prepared to improve all aspects of governance.
A Chief Superintendent of Police in Akwa-Ibom state and 2019 Integrity Icon winner, CSP Francis Erhabor, whilst sharing his experience as a law-abiding officer, called on youths to be willing to pay the price for honesty and integrity in their works. He encouraged all to dare to be different and recognise that they can be and make the difference they desire in the country.
The event was attended by least 100 youths including representatives from youth-led civil society organisations, university students and the Nigeria Youth Parliament (NYP) under the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.