Media Practitioners, Civil Society Organizations, government, security and law enforcement agencies, the private sector and critical Stakeholders in Imo State have been urged to champion the fight against corruption as the world marks the 2023 International Anti-corruption day with the theme “UNCAC at 20: Uniting The World Against Corruption”.

The call was made by a non-governmental and human rights group, Christian Fellowship and Care Foundation (CFCF) on Saturday, December, 9, 2023, during the celebration of the 2023 International Anti-Corruption Day at the organization’s office in Owerri.

Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Clinton Ezeigwe, the CFCF Campaign Manager, emphasized that the day holds great significance for everyone, as it provides an opportunity to reflect on the progress made in the fight against corruption and to renew our commitment to building a society that values integrity, transparency, and inclusivity.

His words, “The year 2023 commemorates the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), symbolizing our collective dedication to eradicating corruption in all its guises across the globe. Since its adoption in 2003, remarkable progress has been made. For instance, corruption prevention and illicit financial flows have been recognized as essential components of global, regional, and national development plans and strategies. 

“Nevertheless, combating corruption continues to pose a significant challenge, as nearly one in five individuals worldwide has paid a bribe to access public services. Furthermore, the corruption levels in 124 countries remain stagnant, raising concerns. We gather here under the banner of the “Enhancing Anti-Corruption and Social Inclusive Reform in Nigeria’s project, a USAID-funded initiative anchored by ANEEJ and implemented by Palladium under the Strengthening Civic and Local Engagement (SCALE) project. Together, we are working tirelessly to create a Nigeria where corruption is not only condemned but actively combated, fostering an environment conducive to peace, security, and development.

“The theme of this year’s World Anti-Corruption Day underscores the intrinsic link between anti-corruption policies and peace, security, and development. This theme resonates deeply with our collective mission and underscores the vital role that eradicating corruption plays in creating a prosperous and harmonious society.

“Corruption, in all forms, poses a direct threat to the peace and security of any nation. When public resources are diverted for personal gain, bribery becomes a norm, and institutions are undermined, the fabric of society is weakened. This erosion of trust in public institutions can lead to social unrest and undermine the foundation of a stable and peaceful community. In the context of our beloved Imo State, we recognise that tackling corruption is essential for fostering an environment conducive to peace and security.

“Corruption often serves as a breeding ground for discontent and social unrest, thus threatening the stability of communities. It reduces trust in governance systems and jeopardizes progress across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

“Corruption also fuels conflict and inhibits peace by weakening the rule of law, worsening poverty, facilitating the illicit use of resources, and providing financing for armed conflict. 

“By confronting corruption, we are building a foundation for lasting peace and security that will allow citizens to thrive and prosper. Furthermore, the impact of corruption on development cannot be overlooked. Resources that should be invested in education, health care, infrastructure, and other essential services are siphoned off, perpetuating a cycle of poverty and inequality. 

 “By combating corruption, we pave the way for a more equitable distribution of resources, creating an environment in which development can flourish.

To combat corruption effectively, we must adopt a comprehensive and collaborative approach. Our law enforcement agencies, the judiciary, civil society, and the private sector must work together to create a culture of transparency, accountability, and integrity. We must strengthen our institutions, empower our citizens, and ensure that wrongdoers face the consequences of their actions.

“Our project recognises the importance of inclusivity in the fight against corruption. Corruption often disproportionately affects vulnerable and marginalised communities. Therefore, our efforts are not only aimed at holding the corrupt accountable, but also empowering communities to actively participate in the decision-making processes that affect their lives. Inclusivity is not just a goal; it is a fundamental principle that guides actions.

“As we commemorate this World Anti-corruption Day, let us renew our commitment to honesty, accountability, and justice. Together, we can create a society where corruption has no place, peace and security reign, and development flourishes for the benefit of all .Thank you and let us stand united in our quest for a corruption-free and prosperous Imo State”.