October 28, 2021

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Muslim, Christian Leaders Unite in Fight Against Corruption

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Edith CHUKU

A group, the Inter-Religious Coalition Against Corruption In Nigeria, ICACN, has reached a resolution on various approaches to adopt in the fight against corruption which they believe is a common enemy of the nation’s economy.

ICACN made these resolutions during a seminar organised for religious groups and local communities on anti-corruption campaign, held in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

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According to them, some of the roles to be played by religious leaders and other concerned citizens which would help in the elimination of corruption in the Nigeria society include transparency, sincerity of purpose, and exemplary behaviour by leaders and parents.

The event which took place at the Marriot Garden City Hotel, with the title, “amplifying anti-corruption messaging through interfaith and traditional engagement in Nigeria” was duly attended by Christian leaders, Imams, students, those in the business sector among several others.

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ICACN reiterated that its overall objective is to improve working relationship among religious, traditional and community based organisations on anti-corruption campaigns, as well as to empower citizens to speak out and raise their voice against corruption using religious and traditional norms and values.

The group also outlined her work plan to include designing anti-corruption messaging template, dissemination of the messages, tracking and reporting corruption cases, among others.

The programme which was centered on promoting accountability and anti-corruption through behaviour change approaches, featured an interactive session of resource persons and participants, introduction of the project which was done by the Co-Director, Bishop (Dr) Emmah Gospel Isong, presentation by the various groups, a breakout session, the programme overview by a co-director, Imam Shefiu AbdulKareem Majemu, and many more.

Speaking with TNN in an exclusive interview, ICACN Co-Director, Bishop Emmah Isong, who is also the national publicity secretary of PFN said, “corruption has not only hit us bad, corruption has become endemic and it has eaten into the fabrics of our economy and has become one of the greatest challenges of Nigeria.

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“This is the second phase of this project, promoting accountability and anti-corruption through behaviour change approaches, so we give thanks to God and credit to MacAuthur foundation and all of our partners in the Mambaya House, Centre for Democratic Studies, Bayero University, Kano.

“In fact this campaign has not only consumed my time, zeal and energy, it has also helped me to learn a lot in contributing to national development.

The bishop said, “the religious leaders are targeting the community; we have now become the vehicle upon which to drive the anti-corruption message. Hitherto, corruption messages were propagated and sponsored by governmental agencies like ICPC and EFCC but right now, what we are doing on this project of the inter-faith is to make sure that the three major religions come together to synergise, fight the common enemy that is eating our national cake.

“You can see from this Port Harcourt activity, that you have here several Muslims, several Christians in this ball room. That already tells anybody that we are more than ready to go out and fight corruption together. The willingness is there, synergy is there, we’ve dropped our religious, dogmatic and philosophical defences and we’ve decided to come together, fight the common enemy of the Nigeria economy.

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On his words to Nigerians, he said, “my current words to Nigerians is that good governance and corruption free leadership will bring a turn-around economic development that will further reduce crime and violence in our society, so the pivot upon which any political leader coming in 2023 should drive his manifesto should be on anti-corruption.”

Also speaking to TNN, Imam Shefiu AbdulKareem Majemu said, “the activity we are having today is a symposium on engagement of faith leaders and community leaders in terms of amplifying the anti-corruption messages.

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“Everyday, we communicate to people, we talk as religious leaders. At every contact, people want to hear us talk, people want to see us sermonizing them, they come to us for advice, counselling; even those at the helms of affairs, they go to the mosque and churches to receive sermon. At the end of the day, you discover that we are not making appreciable impact. Our faith, our scriptures have a lot, yet Nigeria is going towards unbearable level; poverty everywhere, crisis, conflict everywhere, these are the outcome, the offshoot of corruption.

“We  as religious leaders, we cannot start doing it that way, but the best way to do it, we have been ordained by God by his divine instruction to correct societal ills, and to repair our society.

“Nigeria is the sole property of God, not anybody, and we will be judged by how we have used those resources and religious leaders will be questioned first, how are we talking about corrections, how are we changing the tide of the society, what are we telling them in the churches and the mosques? We are the main cause of everything.

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In their reactions, the participants applauded the organisers and sponsors of the programme, for the initiative which they described as timely and most welcome.

One of them,  Tonye Brown of the Eternal Sacred of the Cherubim and Seraphim described the programme as eye opening, stressing that he had learnt quite a lot from it.

He said “it’s eye opening, I’ve learnt quite a lot and I will take it further. As I go home I’m thinking of the church itself, it’s the church that sent me so I will go to the church, speak to the church about this activity, then we will establish it particularly among our children and then the women associations and the men’s forum as well.

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