ECOWAS Commission holds consultative meeting with regional anti-corruption network on risk assessment25 Apr, 2019
Abuja, 25th April 2019. The Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is holding a consultative meeting with the Network of Anti-Corruption Institutions in West Africa (NACIWA) to fashion out ways of developing faculties for training on Corruption Risk Assessment (CRA).
The Two-Day meeting which began on the 25th of April 2019 at the ECOWAS Commission, Abuja, Nigeria is also meant among others, to appraise the planned ECOWAS-CRA activities being an integrated approach which involves building capacities, strengthening of institutions as well as the implementation of the CRA.
In his opening remark at the start of the meeting, the ECOWAS Commission’s Director, Political Affairs Dr. Remi Ajibewa affirmed that the ECOWAS region has witnessed considerable progress in its democratic consolidation efforts over the years, with a number of Member States organizing credible, free, fair and peaceful elections.
He however noted that “the commensurate need to make transparency and accountability grow side-by-side with democracy is essential to reinforce democratic process, enhance credibility of our institutions and create the enabling conditions for economic, social and inclusive development” in line with the positive development in the democratic trajectory of the region.
Dr Ajibewa disclosed the Commission’s desire to leverage on the existing collaboration with the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Anti-Corruption Academy of Nigeria on the road to “replicating the Nigerian success stories in the implementation of Corruption Risk Assessment (CRA) across our Member States”.
He lamented that even though public services account for a significant share of government budgets, increased spending in most ECOWAS Member States “has often not been matched by improvement in service delivery to the Community citizens” as corruption continues to stall the delivery of basic needs and services.
He expressed optimism that the citizen-based approach, adopted by ECOWAS particularly after the coming into force of the Protocol on the fight against corruption, alongside the Whistle-blower Protection Policy will come handy in stemming the negative tide.
Giving a keynote address, the chairman of Nigeria’s ICPC Professor Bolaji Owasanoye represented by professor Sola Akinrinade, stressed that in order for the fighters of corruption to have an edge over criminals, they must improve their capacities in all areas possible because criminals have been found to frequently sharpen their skills to beat fortifications and safeguards erected by law enforcement agencies.
There were also good will messages from partners and other stakeholders. Mr. Oliver Stolpe of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) who was representing the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations Systems in Nigeria Mr. Edward Kallon, stressed the need for collaboration and innovativeness in the fight against corruption seeing that “corruption is a like a balloon, you squeeze it in one end, it moves into other ends” He noted that partnership with the civil society, the media and other institutions is key for success and for the advancement of the ECOWAS integrity governance process.
Similarly, the Deputy Executive Secretary of Guinea’s Anti-Corruption Agency (ANLC) Sylla Seleou Mohammed who represented the President of NACIWA thanked the ECOWAS Commission for CRA initiative which he noted, is capable of stimulating and sustaining a region-wide anti-corruption drive.
The Executive Director MacArthur Foundation, Africa Office Dr. Kole Shettima sho spoke through Mr. Dayo Olaide reiterated that experience in the anti-corruption fight has shown that there are also social norms and values that tend to encourage corruption. He urged stakeholders to take note of the observed opaqueness of the operations and processes of the anti-corruption agencies and institutions. He noted in this regard that sanitising the sector will do a great deal of good to the increasing appetite for fighting corruption.
Earlier while welcoming the Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies and participants to the consultative meeting, the Head, Democracy and Good Governance Division of the ECOWAS Commission Mr. Eyesan Okorodudu, stressed that the Commission expects positive feedbacks after duly consulting with the regional heads of anti-corruption institutes.
Experts have variously maintained that an effective way of mitigating corruption is the identification of the possibilities and vulnerabilities of corrupt and unethical practices in public and private organisations in the West African region.