Comrade Bello Shagari, President, National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) says there in need to see corrupt people in Africa as criminals not celebrities.
Shagari made this submission while addressing the African Union Commission 3rd Specialised Technical Committee on Youth, Culture and Sports on Thursday in Algiers, Algeria.
He presented a paper titled“ the Role of Youth in Creating a Culture of Fighting Corruption in Africa.’’
According to him, corruption is not a problem that Africa has to live with.
“There is a profound saying that `the realisation of sin is the beginning of salvation’; consequently, there must be a deliberate and conscious effort to sensitise our young people to change their orientation.
“So, that they can identify corruption as soon as they see it. In order to differentiate between what is culturally acceptable and what is institutionally unacceptable.
“By doing so, it will reduce compliance and the unrealistic demands from the society, which will make workers comfortable with what they earn legally and limit them to it.
“It also necessary that corrupt people are viewed as criminals in the society rather than celebrities. There should also be a deliberate attempt by our youth to point out corrupt people and to ensure that they are rejected in taking up public offices, and those caught in action should be properly sanctioned.
“The youth should also make efforts advocate for the strengthening of our laws and their proper application.’’
He said that this could also be effective with youth inclusivity in governance because even in the most advance countries, it was the fear of punishment that deters people from indulging in corrupt practices.
Shagari said that the social media helped in extending advocacy and voice concerns very easily; therefore, social media tools could be used properly to sensitise the youths and call them to action whenever necessary.
According to him, before Africa can solve the problems of corruption, it has to first identify what corruption is in African context, and the conflicts that the western idea have with African culture and traditions.
“In Nigeria particularly, there is a tradition of a societal burden and “family obligation” on people in occupying public positions which is a norm in our culture, but is seen as another element of corruption by the western standards.
“For instance, an average government worker in the cities of Nigeria is expected to cater for his extended family back in the village.
“This is more evident during festive periods. During Eid or Christmas, one is expected to send money or foodstuffs back home.
“Failing to fulfill such “obligations” leads to name calling among family members who sees such a person as irresponsible,’’ he said.
He said that such an obligation was not attainable by anyone who depended on his wages as a worker not just in Nigeria but anywhere in the world.
The NYCN president regretted that people celebrated corruption in most African countries because they benefitted from proceeds of corruption from rich relatives.