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Leaders must develop moral courage to fight corruption, says ICPC chairman



The Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) Bolaji Owansanoye has said for Nigeria to attract foreign investment and economic boost, leaders at various level must develop a moral courage to fight corruption to its root.

Owansanoye was the keynote speaker at the seventh yearly Christopher Kolade annual lecture organised by the Integrity Organisation in Lagos. The theme of this year programme was Governance, Leadership and Ethics: How To Build A Thriving Economy.

Speaking on government’s efforts to attract foreign investors, Owansanoye said the government has implemented a wide range of reform focusing on the ease of doing business, ease of payment of taxes, introduction of visa on arrival, amongst others which has improved efficiency, cost savings and transparency to some extent.
Also the government is in the process of reviewing the company and allied act to modernise to meet global standard and make it easier for investors to do business in Nigeria.


“One of the key administrative measures is the disclosure of beneficial ownership of companies across board. It cannot be denied that one of the reasons Nigeria is not the destination of choice for investors is the low integrity and high corrupt environment in which these companies operate. Dealing with this, the public and private sectors require multi- sectorial and multiple approaches to corporate with key partners such as CGRS, Organised business groups like the Lagos Chambers of Commerce, MAN, Civil society organisations and others.

“To encourage foreign investment in Nigeria, attention has to be paid to whatever investors raised and put the right regulatory framework in place and make sure the administration of justice both civil and criminal is responsive to the needs of investors. We also need to pay attention to illicit financial flows. We must focus on everything.

He added, “Ethical corporations are more likely to attract external investors, besides crooks do not invest in other crooks, they know each other footsteps.

“There is an urgent need for increase in ethical leadership in all areas of our endeavours. We must admit that the challenge of leadership and governance in the society bedevils both the public and private sectors, whereas it is often easy to point fingers at the public sectors of being devoid of ethical leadership, I boldly assert that this is found in both sides of the divide.

Why leaders are the problem to themselves, the followers some times who are the victims of bad leadership also have a role to play.

This is the most basic of all principles, when it comes to being trusted there’s no way around anyways, no leader can demand respect, they have to earn respect.

“Leaders cannot just talk about integrity but they have to demonstrate it and give the followers the reason why they must be trusted. Role modelling therefore is a powerful tool for transmitting values and acceptable behaviour, secondly, demonstrating morality; leaders must demonstrate the moral courage which is the willingness to stand up for and act according to one’s ethical beliefs when moral principles are threatened, regardless of the person or actual reason, to fight corruption successful in Nigeria and to build a thriving economy, we have to demonstrate moral courage every time in our daily activities.

“One of the things I found most disturbing with the things that we don’t like as Nigerians, many of us have our views about things that we know are wrong but very few of us can say in publicly. We are all guilty of the culture of silence and escalation of immorality because everybody wants to go to heaven but no one want to die. We want things to change but not willing to stand up for our conviction.” He said

Speaking on the panel section on the topic, Ethics and Expediency: Survival of the fittest or by doing things right, Director, Mobihive South Africa, Bayo Oluwadairo, said, “I know under the law that I can go to jail for what my company has done. In terms of mentoring, people don’t go with what you say, they go by what you do.”

“My company is categorised as high tax paid non-oil firm; because they see the figure that we remit on monthly basis they believe that there is a lot more we are hiding if we can pay so much.

We also try to pay slightly above the industry because if you pay peanut, you’ll get nut-pea and we also train our staff.

In his response, CEO, Construction Caiser, Igbuan Okaisabor said, “as a business, we need to focus on excellence; a company’s advantage cannot be on how much bribe it gives, as a business, you have to decide to do the work right.”

He added, “as a business, we hire for attitude and pay for skills. We rather hire the guy who is not smart at his job but has the right attitude, values than someone who is very good at his job but he’s very good at stealing, because when you do that, you are sending the wrong signal to the organisation. Internationally, we need to set the right culture for business to do well.”


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