Chairman of Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), has said Nigeria is “overwhelmed” by corruption.
But he assured that the Muhammadu Buhari administration is determined to curb it.
The eminent law scholar noted that corruption has become and a way of life for the elite, who he accused of “wheeling and dealing with the fate of the country”.
Sagay spoke at a one-day interactive virtual dialogue organised by PACAC with the theme: Collective responsibility and action in the fight against corruption.
Other speakers included PACAC member, Prof. Femi Odekunle; activist-lawyer Jiti Ogunye; Executive Director, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, and Chief Executive Officer, Convention on Business Integrity, Soji Apampa.
To Sagay, a lack of consensus among the elite on the damaging effects of corruption makes it more difficult to tackle the menace.
He said: “Nigeria is at crossroads and overwhelmed by corruption. It is so pervasive in the different sectors and levels of society.
“Several senior public officials and political appointees are neck-deep in corruption. Civil servants play significant roles in the perpetuation of corruption. A majority of the elite sees corruption as normal and a legitimate means of wealth accumulation.
“There is no consensus among elites about the disastrous consequences of corruption, which makes it difficult to fight the problem. Several corrupt practices are also perpetrated by federal legislators and committees in the legislature.
“The Judiciary has, to some extent, been compromised by corruption, usually in decisions that favour and protect powerful corrupt persons in the country.”
Sagay stressed that fighting corruption is the collective responsibility of all the arms of government and Nigerians.
Odekunle called for ideological and revolutionary approaches to tackle graft across board.
“There must be consistency in the fight against corruption. Leaders should be held accountable,” he said.
Ogunye, who spoke on the role of the Bar and the Bench, noted that the Judiciary has to play a critical role in the fight against corruption, given its “enormous sanction powers”.
He said: “If the anti-corruption fight is to be effective, the Judiciary should be committed and judicial officers must be above board.
“There are judicial decisions that have threatened the fight against corruption.”
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ogunye said, “is characterised by corruption,” adding that “such a body cannot creditably fight” graft.
A call was made for a national summit of key political, judicial, legislative and anti-corruption agencies to discuss and evolve a consensus on the fight against corruption.