The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) was conspicuously absent on Tuesday in Abuja as political parties debated how they would tackle corruption and promote public accountability in the country.
The presidential debate organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development, with support from MacArthur Foundation, was to get the parties’ policies on corruption and accountability.
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), African Action Congress (AAC), Young Progressive Party (YPP), Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) and Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) were however present at the event.
While the AAC and ANRP were represented by their presidential candidates; Omoyele Sowore and Tope Fasua respectively, the PDP, YPP and ACPN sent their party officials.
The PDP was represented by a spokesperson of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, Kassim Afegbua, the ACPN by its National Secretary, Paul Osamadi; and YPP by its National Publicity Secretary, Egbeola Martins.
Kassim Afegbua of the PDP said that many of Nigeria’s challenges in terms of corruption happened in public offices, thus the need for open asset declaration.
“We subscribe to the idea of public declaration of asset; however, it is one thing to declare assets and another for people to have access to the assets declared.
“So PDP, when voted into power will open up the system by ensuring that Nigerians will have access to assets declared by public servants, and we would deploy technology that allows transparency in governance,” he said.
On his part, Egbeola Martins of the YPP, said that over 90 percent of corruption in Nigeria was as a result of budget padding and contract inflation.
Martins said that the party, when voted into power, would digitise Nigeria by ensuring that all government activities and transactions were in the public domain.
“Our party using ICT would ensure that Nigerians had access to assets declaration online and could download budget and other procurement information while every procurement process would be automated,” he said.
Also, the presidential candidate of the ANRP, Mr Tope Fasua, stressed the need to overhaul the Nigerian system, and that restructuring should be written into the constitution of the country.
He said that his party was a ‘computer party’ that would digitize the nation because technology would address the menace of corruption in Nigeria.
Fasua said that the party would pay N45, 000 minimum wages when voted into power and advocated that the 2019 budget should be increased to N15trn to effectively solve issues.
The presidential candidate of the AAC, Mr Omoyele Sowore, said that his party would ensure transparent contracting process and make publicly available public asset information and strip corrupt leaders off national awards.
Sowore proposed to pay N100, 000 minimum wage to avoid stealing in the public service, adding that there was no reason why a Nigerian should work for 38 years before earning the monthly salary of a Senator.
The National Secretary of the ACPN, Mr Paul Isamade, said that the major corruption issue started in political parties and urged the Federal Government to take over the funding of parties.
Isamade said this would help in curbing corruption and parties would no longer be hijacked, adding that ACPN would ensure it ran a transparent, accountable and accessible government that was open to all.
The CDD Director, Idayat Hassan, said that the event was organised to engage leaders of political parties on how to tackle the issue of corruption ahead of the general elections.
According to her, it was imperative that leaders of political parties and their presidential candidates engaged in robust conversation on their preferred policies and programmes to rid the country of corrupt practices.
She said, “Despite a multifaceted approach towards combating corruption, not much has been achieved in this direction.
“Evidence suggests that corruption in Nigeria predicates on the inability of successive governments to create an avenue for openness and transparency in its activities, promote accountability and possess the political will to deliver good governance.
“This is the motivation for organizing the #BigDebate to stimulate a robust conversation amongst parties’ leadership on their preferred policies and programmes to rid the country of corrupt practices.”