• Saturday, June 22, 2024
businessday logo


Structures, integrity must be merged to fight corruption – experts


As the anti-corruption drive of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration peaks, experts that gathered at the fourth Annual Christopher Kolade Lecture on Business Integrity in Lagos recently, say unless structures, which are seen to be above individuals whether in government or business, are established, the drive to eliminate corruption will not stand the test of time.

The lecture with the theme “Does Business Integrity Matter” was, according to Christopher Kolade, the event’s honouree who gave the welcome address, a platform that had served, over the years, to bring together leaders of thought in various segments of the Nigerian economy and government officials to underscore the role of integrity in the business environment and development of the nation.

“Corruption isn’t something you ignore; it is something you fight by encouraging good behaviour,” Kolade said, saying, corruption when not engaged by the greater majority, eventually weakens the minority fighting it and before long they are co-opted into becoming what they abhor.

“It is critically important that we promote integrity together. Unless we are strong together in expressing opposition to lack of integrity, to bad behaviour, we will have a long way to go.

“Perhaps, time has come for us to ask ourselves whether we are making progress. Some people think it is important just to behave well, but integrity is also what we stand for, so people can point to us as example,” Kolade said.

The keynote speaker, Akinwale Akinyemi, CEO, PowerTalks Limited, Kenya, emphasised the need to create structures that were not easily manipulated by powerful people in the society. Similarly, the overarching importance attached to power and “big man” mentality, was, according to Akinyemi, the bane of the Nigeria society.

“Integrity and structures go together. The structures are the expressions of integrity and people can trust them. Structures give faith to people.

“To him that has structures that are beyond manipulation by individuals, more shall be added to him. Business integrity is an assurance that if all else fails, we will be standing. When your ‘Yes’ is strong enough, your ‘No’ will be easy enough,” Akinyemi said.

Only people who will see the Nigerian course as a personal one will achieve the Nigerian dream, for Akinyemi. These crops of people are ready to give everything to make things work, as they should, for the good of the country.

On his part, Frank Aigbogun, CEO, BusinessDay Media Limited, said, “We must find things that work for us, and I think the government has a role to play.”

According to Aigbogun, one way to combat corruption and reposition the economy is what the government has already started – privatisation. He stressed that privatisation would make the systems more efficient “without firing a single gun.”

In his contribution, Bolaji Owasanoye, executive secretary, Presidential Advisory Committee, said, “We need to show that corruption has victims. We need to change the narrative.”

Owasanoye said government was determined to fight corruption, hence it had widened its net by forming partnerships with global anti-corruption agencies, saying, “If the government doesn’t get you in Nigeria, we can get you outside the country. The net is widening.”

The guest of honour, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who was represented by Jumoke Oduwole, senior special assistant to the President on Industry, Trade and Investments, office of the Vice President, assured that there was adequate will on the part of government to fight corruption. The Vice President urged the private sector to commit to partnering government on its reforms in order to create a better business environment.

“The business environment must continue to persevere with integrity,” Osinbajo said.