By Funmi Falobi.
In order to strengthen the fight against corruption in Nigeria, the United States Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria in collaboration with BudgIT, a non-governmental organization has launched ‘Report Yourself’, a web-based platform that leverages citizen engagement to fight corruption in the country.
The project which is on http://www.reportyourself.org/ is the initiative of religious leaders in the nation as their own contribution towards curbing corruption among the citizens. The platform was developed with the support and guidance of the Religious Leaders Anti-Corruption Committee (RLAC), the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), The Social and Economic Rights Action Center (SERAC), with the support of the U.S. Consulate in Lagos State through the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement. The web platform was developed by BudgIT.
During the official launch ceremony in Lagos, U.S. Chargé d’ Affaires, David Young explained that ‘Report Yourself’ puts the power to report corruption in the hands of the Nigerian people.
“I hope that Report Yourself starts a new movement in citizen engagement and I hope every Nigerian who is affected by corruption will feel empowered to share their experiences. The tide will turn against the culture of corruption when Nigerians recognise that they must fight as one to stamp out this scourge that has hampered development and stifled prosperity,” he said.
David Young urged Nigerians to demonstrate their commitment to the fight against corruption by making use of the innovative online platform which seeks to address the daily instances of corruption faced by millions of Nigerians.
‘Report Yourself’ offers Nigerians the means to instantaneously report corruption, bribery, and graft with the option of filing an official complaint with the Nigerian Police Force Public Complaints Rapid Response Unit.
“Through the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, we are working to increase the capacity of Nigerian law enforcement agencies and the justice sector,” remarked Chargé Young.
Accordingly, Bishop Emmah Isong, National Publicity Secretary, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) said Nigerians who have encountered incidence of corruption should speak out and report it on the platform. “Corruption thrives in silence. The inclusion of religious leaders in the fight against corruption in Nigeria is important because we control the population. After citizens have finished work from Monday to Friday, 99 percent find themselves in churches, mosques. Adding to voice of corruption is very important. What the government fight on hours of the day, religious leaders fight on the pulpit. And the truth is that many respect their religious leaders,” he said.
Imam Shefiu, Chief Imam, the Islamic Platform and Director, Strength in Diversity and Development Center said there is need to fight Satan in Nigeria which is corruption. “Religious leaders are working with other NGOs to report corruption. We must come up and say it. If you can’t say it, report it, if you can’t report it, pray about it. We want to ensure everyone of us has the platform to report corruption. He explained that religious leaders would go round churches and mosques to enlighten people to use the platform. According to him, once a month, religious leaders would preach about corruption in churches and mosques.
Also, Felix Morka, Executive Director, Social and Economic Rights Action Centre, SERAC, said that our tolerance of everyday bribery encourages corruption. According to him, ” we, the people must enlist in the struggle against corruption. We must shun bribery and challenge these practices at churches, mosques, on the streets. People steal millions in the offices. We all must be bothered. This platform makes us massive soldiers to fight corruption”. He said.
Stanley Achonu, Manager, Operations, BudgIT, declared that there is grand corruption in Nigeria. “You heard about billions being looted, it started from petty corruption. If you have had experience in getting drivers license, international passport, marriage registry, or experience with police at checkpoint, you would have experienced corruption at low level and religious leaders can mount pressures on the authority. It is not about religious leaders but collectively we can join hands with President Muhammadu Buhari to fight corruption. Petty corruption kills, it deprives people access to amenities.”.
On his part, Head, Nigeria Police Force, Public Complaint Rapid Response Unit (NPF PCRRU), Assistant Commissioner of Police, ACP Abayomi Shogunle, urged the media to help the public know that there is a complaint unit at the police force, PCRRU where they can complain and get justice. He added that the reports that concern the force on the ‘Report Yourself’ platform should be forwarded to the force.
“The fight against corruption is what everybody should key in. One controversial issue is bail and it’s free. PCRRU is for ordinary Nigerians not people that can engage the services of lawyers”, he noted.
During the event, participants received a guided demonstration of the ‘Report Yourself’ platform. In addition, religious leaders, members of law enforcement, and civil society representatives renewed their commitment to fight against corruption.
David Young said, “the cost of corruption comes down on people, it should not be measured in money but on people. Corruption harms millions of Nigerians. It is not measured in money but daily pains it cause the citizens. In Nigeria and the world, corruption is not only about the millions stolen, but impact it has on the millions of people.”