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Group sensitises council workers on promoting transparency, accountability



A cross-section of participants at the event

PIQUED by the high level of corruption in local councils and the need to stem the tide, a human rights NGO, the Socio Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP) last week organized a Training and Interactive Seminar for council workers on ‘The Role of the Local Government” in the fight against corruption.”

Over 100 local council career civil servants in Lagos State attended the workshop organized in collaboration with Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

Former member of the Lagos State House Committee on Judiciary, Babatunde Ogala, who extolled SERAP for coming out with the initiative, said the workshop was setting an agenda for the incoming government. According to him:

“ People tend to always look up to politicians for every corrupt practice forgetting that there is always at least 10 civil service accomplices for every corrupt practice.”

“If the civil service itself is committed not to be collaborators, no governor or government official can afford to perform any corrupt act,” he added.

He urged the local council workers to place themselves where they ought to impact most especially with the body language of the president- elect.

The Executive Director, SERAP, Adetokunbo Mumuni said the tendency is always to focus on the national or state level forgetting that the local council is the closest tier of government.

He said if the career local council administrators can get it right at this level, it would permeate to the state and national levels especially with the advent of the new government that has demonstrated interest for accountability and anti-corruption.

In her remarks, representative of Mr. Ekpo Nta, the Chairman of Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Mrs. Rasheedat Okoduwa expressed appreciation for SERAP’s anti corruption stance and good governance.

Okoduwa, who is a director in ICPC stressed that corruption has permeated the nation’s fabric. According to her, ICPC in line with its three pronged mandates, which include enforcement, prevention and public education and enlightenment, has recorded many successes in the war against corruption in the country.

She urged the participants to be part of of the change in the nation and shun every act of corruption. Speaking on the Topic; “Promoting Transparency and Accountability at the Local Government / Community Level,” former dean, Faculty of Law University of Lagos, Professor Oyelowo Oyewo, described transparency and accountability or relationship with the electorates as the key aspect of government, Accountability, he said, brings answerability and it takes away absolute impunity.

While praising Lagos State as model in terms of legal framework on issue of accountability and transparency through its Public Finance Management law, he regretted that its enforcement has been the major issue.

Prof Oyewo noted that the system of bad governance entrenched in local council administration by the state operators are not allowed in constitutional law.

According to him, poor local government administration brings about poor local government service, illiteracy, opaqueness, electoral malpractices, corruption, political impunity, criminality and ethnicity.

He said: “Transparency requires that holders of public office should be as open as possible about all decisions and actions that they take.

Transparent/open government would avoid acting in a way that is otherwise improper and betray the trust of the people.” Also Professor Ayo Atsenuwa, of the Faculty Of Law, University of Lagos, who spoke on “The role of the local Government in promotion Citizen Access to Justice”, called for paradigm shift in the way local government is run to make it participatory.

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