Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Tuesday in Abuja decried the unsuccessful prosecution of high-profile corruption cases in Nigeria.
Obasanjo expressed his displeasure while delivering the inauguration lecture of the Olusegun Obasanjo Good Governance and Development Research Centre, National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).
The title of the lecture is “Leadership, Governance and the Challenges of Development in Nigeria: The Way Forward.’’
He regretted that in spite efforts by successive governments, corruption still posed a daunting challenge to the progress and development of Nigeria.
“The lack of successful prosecution of high-profile corruption cases involving Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) is giving serious course for concern, both for Nigerians and the international community.
“We must take away the proceeds of illicit enrichment and remove negative role models in our society.
“I know that each arm of government has its responsibility and we must respect the separation of powers under our constitution.
“At the same time, we must have an acute and common perception of our problem and do all that is necessary to mitigate the impact of corruption in our society.’’
Obasanjo said that instead of pointing accusing fingers and passing the buck, Nigerians including the Church and the Mosque should all rise against corruption.
According to him, fighting corruption is not a popular agenda, but the apparent realisation of the negative impact of corruption has promoted the fight against corruption as a measure of good governance.
The former president said that the aim of fighting corruption was to correct certain wrong doings.
“The aim of fighting corruption is most importantly, to remedy the dark sides of bad governance, such as poverty, unemployment, hunger and disease; as well as improving the well-being of the citizens.
“Hence, we must pay equal attention to the economy which is the bedrock of all-round development.
“The beginning of getting leadership right is to make the electoral system transparent and credible to ensure that only the choices of the people are actually elected into electable political offices.
“People with integrity, vision, wisdom and purpose should be elected, not those who try to buy their way into leadership position,’’ he said.
Obasanjo said that there was need to strengthen institutions saddled with responsibility of ensuring transparency and accountability in governance.
NOUN’s Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Abdalla Adamu, who spoke, said that the institution was concerned about solving the problem of leadership and good governance in Nigeria, which informed the establishment of the centre.
Adamu said that the centre was named after Obasanjo because he was a success story in democratic governance in Africa.
He said that Obasanjo demonstrated strong abhorrence for corruption hence the establishment of anti-graft agencies.
Adamu said NOUN decided to immortalise Obasanjo because he resuscitated the institution in 2003, after it was abandoned in 1984.
“He introduced the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) bill.
“He also went ahead to establish Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the first of its kind in Nigeria.
“He established due process to ensure transparency and accountability, which transformed into Bureau of Public Procurement.
“He established the Financial Intelligence Unit which helped the Ministry of Justice in the recovery of stolen fund—the highest sum recovered so far was during his tenure.
“He is currently pursuing his PhD in NOUN; he is not pursuing it because he needs money or job but because he needs knowledge,’’ he said.
Adamu added that Obasanjo was one of the few presidents in Africa that went back to school after leaving office.
The Chairman of the occasion and former Ghanaian President, Mr John Mahama, said it was imperative for Nigerians to get its leadership right in order to lead Africa to greatness.
He said that the West African sub-region and Africa in general was looking up to Nigeria for economic integration and development.
On her part, the Chairlady of the Occasion and former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Aloma Mukhtar, urged NOUN to ensure that the good governance centre lived up to expectations.