CATBAN TACKLES VICE PRESIDENT, OVER COMMENT ON CSO’S

Ibrahim Garba Wala

 

Citizens Action To Take Back Nigeria (CATBAN) would like to express its disagreement with a statement credited to His Excellency, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria over the role of civil society organizations in the fight against
corruption in Nigeria.

In an event tagged ‘’Nigeria civil society situation court room dialogue’’ which was held on 5th October 2017, the Vice President had accused the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) of not doing enough to fight corruption.

In his words, “There are not enough outrage from civil societies on the anti-corruption war, they are not speaking up… this is an existential problem for Nigeria”, he said.

As much as we commend President Muhammadu Buhari led administration’s efforts in the fight against corruption, we are compelled to disagree with the position of the Vice President over his comment on the role of civil societies in the anti-corruption battle.

This is so because, contrary to the views of Prof Yemi Osinbajo that the civil societies are not showing enough outrage, the civil societies also believe that the federal government is not doing enough to give them the required atmosphere to be involved in theanti-corruption battle, nor are their actions in most cases motivating  enough to want to do more than the organizations are currently doing.

For example, Citizens Action To Take Back Nigeria (CATBAN) which was formed during the budget padding saga of 2016 was fully engaged in the activities not only to ensure all culprits in the padding scandal were adequately dealt with, but to also champion the call for accountability and transparency in governance.

The organization, being a coalition of different civil society organizations, did everything possible to ensure those involved in the scandal were prosecuted. The outrage from the civil society
organizations was so loud to an extent that a high ranking law maker from Kano, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibril,summoned enough courage & confidence to step forward and volunteer, not just to provide supporting evidence to prosecute those involved in the atrocities, but to also serve as witness.

However, all efforts made by CATBAN and other civil society organizations to propel government to take decisive action, so as to deter future occurrences, were rubbished by the same government. The member of parliament who was ready to sacrifice himself in other to
ensure the right thing was done became the victim.

The resultant effect was his illegal expulsion from the National Assembly for over one year, and still nothing happened.This explains the reason why many civil society organizations refused to speak out as loudly as expected, when another padding extravaganza was
discovered in the 2017 budget.

Additionally, CATBAN had in February 2017 exposed the theft of over N630 million by the four (4) principal officers of the National Assembly through the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA).

CATBAN didn’t only raise the alarm on this matter, but also provided supporting documents ranging from contract award papers, agreements, locations of the shadow buildings and others. But despite all these efforts to ensure proper investigation and prosecution, nothing
tangible was done about it till this day.

Furthermore, CATBAN had equally raised alarm over the monumental scam running into billions of naira taking place at the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). Apart from other infractions that had been committed at the agency, we specifically raised alarm on the huge
billions of naira currently trapped in more than 10 banks.

Regrettably, rather than take action to address the cogent issue raised, the federal government looked the other way as if these corrupt practices that had prevented millions of Nigerians from
accessing healthcare is not an important issue in their agenda.

With all due respect to the Vice President, we have to state that what motivates civil society organizations into action is the reaction of the government on issues they bring to their knowledge. When the crying voices of the civil societies are left unanswered on a variety
of issues, the spirit gets dampened thereby affecting future engagements of such organizations.

We are therefore urging the Federal Government of Nigeria to step up its efforts in the anti-corruption battle. We are also calling on them to attend to the various petitions by civil society organizations in their offices, and subsequently prosecute all those found wanting.

Finally, we call on the government to support efforts of the civil societies so that they can effectively play their role as conscience of the society.

Ibrahim Garba Wala is the National Coordinator

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