– The Journey to Corruption PurgatoryTHISDAYLIVE – THISDAY Newspapers

Raheem Akingbolu reviews the three-year project end line report of the Akin Fadeyi Foundation, which chronicles the impact of the subtle campaigns deplored to address corruption in Nigeria. He reckons that the report has further confirmed that Nigeria has lost over $500 billion to corruption since Independence, despite all efforts to re-orientate the citizenry.
In recent times, stakeholders in Nigeria are concerned about the country’s image crisis and daily attempting various approaches through which they could tame the menace. In local and international dealings, politics and businesses, Nigerians battle daily to convince potential partners. Of course, there are government agencies, saddled with responsibilities to promote positive behavioral change among citizens on issues of good governance, corruption, transparency and accountability but little or nothing has changed. It is believed in some quarters that the nature of the methodology usually adopted tends to operate in a top to bottom mode.
Whether in terms of the creation of policies and institutions that seek to corral the people into a notion of restraint, or the manners in which the endeavours are ‘sold’ to citizens, there has always been that palpable lag between the design and its outcomes. This critical gap in relating the burden with the cause, through a very popular process of engagement, is possibly the one of the most significant value additions that the Akin Fadeyi Foundation (AFF) has brought to bear in the series of anticorruption advocacies it has engaged in, over the past half a decade. It creates easily related vignettes of modern living (either though the one-minute drama skits, the radio or TV narratives) that not only needle, incite reconsideration of the act of corruption and then contrition/behavioural catharsis, but becomes a composite of encounters that impel a sense of ‘ownership’ of the transformative experience in its audience. This methodology, hinged to an effective behaviour change advocacy has been highly successful in the way it connects very easily to people in their local and private spaces, were it takes the anticorruption message to people, utilising a host of popular figures in the Nigerian entertainment industry – actors, actresses, and show business personalities – as arrowheads of information and change agents. Akin Fadeyi Foundation took the battle for behaviour change to the individual level, the ‘I’ that needs to change across multiple locations, in order to build a critical mass for social change. This gained enormous traction in the past three years, with the support given to the engagement by the MacArthur Foundation.
Anti-corruption Messages
And, the numbers are quite staggering, if not exhilarating – reaching an estimated 100 million people with its anti-corruption messages across various nodes of the national and international broadcast media; from television to radio and then the social media! A vital segment of the demographic of outreach comprised youths of the working age (between the ages of 15 and 35), stretching up to 70 million overall, and considered a principal target of the messaging. In the recent report of the Foundation, presented publicly on July 13, “The Journey” embarked upon by AFF in the past 5+ years, even while essentially chronicling the high moment of the past three years, the Foundation unveiled the extent, alongside impact, of its anti-corruption programming, principally through the audio-visual campaign tagged, “Corruption: Not In My Country”. Through this intervention, the offering had included the production of 60 Corruption Not-In-My-Country drama skits, coupled with 21 episodes of the “Never Again” radio drama, and nine episodes of the “Badt Guys” – a television series that ran for nine weeks. And, the building of a technology platform for the reporting of corruption, the FlagIt app, which has more so had its remit expanded to enable the documentation of sexual crimes in society. Still, there was the additional capacity building held on the sensitisation against corruption for over 500 students, in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
Public Advocacy Drive
Equally terrifying are the numbers that the Akin Fadeyi Foundation’s public advocacy drive has been warring against. Corruption has become one of the most insidious facts of Nigeria’s post-Independence existence, accounting for the trajectory of arrested development of a country of great human and material resources that has constantly punched far beneath its weight, due to the relentless haemorrhaging of these resources. As such, it has not only evinced some of the worst indices on the Human Development Index, in 2012, Nigeria is said to have lost over $400 billion to corruption since Independence in 1960. At this point, almost a decade after this, the figure is projected to have gone north of $500 billion. The depth of the burden of corruption in the country has been revealed in its constantly being rated as one of the worst manifestations of the social ill in the world, ranking 144th out of 180 countries measured by Transparency International (TI)’s Corruption Perception Index. Much of the incidence of poverty – ranging from its more benign hues to the extreme form of expression – and immiseration are as much the indication of pervasive corruption in the country, as much as they are outcomes of poor policy and planning, with the former reinforcing the latter, and vice-versa, in a concentric interplay. In the present, the fallouts of this is revealed in the over 10 million out of school children in the country, which is the highest in the world; a poverty headcount rate of 40 per cent, having over 90 per cent of citizens locked up in dirt scarcity, 60 percent of who are women. Also, while more than 40 million women of childbearing age neither have access to proper healthcare nor proper nutrition, this leads to health issues in childbirth, and more than 10 per cent of global maternal mortality, among similar gory statistics. No doubt, corruption is one of the great social menaces of the times we live in, with the global cost of corruption being put at no less than $2.6 trillion or five per cent of the global GDP, according to the World Economic Forum. Because states and governments have been stripped of their capacity for social provisioning due to the deleterious ravages of corruption, this then yields and 3 gives space to conflict, terrorism and cognate forms of instability, occurring in tandem to illegal traffic in drugs, arms and people, etc.
Crusade Against Corruption
The Akin Fadeyi Foundation crusade against corruption is of very critical relevance to Nigeria at this historical juncture that corruption has risen to unprecedented or exospheric levels, and in which citizens not already enmeshed in the social ill are merely time-bidders, waiting for their opportunities for participation.
Hence, the highly crucial need for changes in mindset as a collective responsibility towards the transformation of society. An important part of the AFF public advocacy strategy was the mobilisation of what it describes as a “citizen-led societal transformation” activated through a Corruption Prevention Approach and the tackling of corruption in the department and agencies of government through a Corruption Fighting Approach. The latter necessitated a major engagement with public institutions such as the Nigerian Police Force, the Federal Roads Safety Commission (a central agency for the operation of its technological anti-corruption platform, the FlagIt app), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, Nigerian Immigration Service, and ministries, departments and agencies of government, etc. It is deeply pleasing to learn that the AFF avails itself of some of the best practices in the social enterprise, such as its subscription to the Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) protocol – which actively enables the affirmation of women, children, person with disabilities and other marginalised groups – in its processes and operations. It claims the intentionality of this approach in its work, hence the different sensitivities it brings to bear on its programming and projects. In this regard, the audio-visual advocacy materials it produces are carefully scripted to avoid language that could trigger gender bias, while the cast and crew of its productions ensures gender and social inclusion, and the Foundation has up to 55 percent of female representation in its team. For AFF, “building a gender-inclusive workplace does not end with hiring more women or emphasizing pay equity, we have also built a system that supports and encourages women-led teams.” As a very modern outlook to the attainment of social change, invariably resolving in advancement, it is remarkable how the Akin Fadeyi Foundation strongly considers the issue of collaboration and partnerships, in which the collectively achieved is sturdier and more resilient than the individual parts. According to the AFF report, this operated on a number of levels, both lateral and vertically to achieve all it has done so far with the “Corruption: Not In Country” project.
Yet, with all the important milestones traversed in the “Corruption: Not In My Country” programme, the AFF report intimates on a number of challenges encountered all through the interlinked series of projects, from the difficulty in securing the ‘buy in’ and collaboration of governmental stakeholders, to other levels of institutional pushbacks, coupled with the shortness of timelines, in relation to the delivery of better outcomes.
Significantly, there were associated risks, especially with the deployment of the FlagIt app in going after criminally minded citizens who sought to wreak havoc through their unusual corrupt dealings, including the sextortion of fellow citizens. Added to this was the repeated head butting with the Nigerian Police, whose corruption-infestation evolved in routine lawlessness against citizens, which occasionally resulted in unwarranted deaths. Still, all this was presented as a journey that was as remarkable in its trajectories, as it was nerve-wracking
MacArthur Foundation Support
In the Akin Fadeyi Foundation’s “The Journey” report, what could possibly be deemed as the most reverberative of acclaims was given to the support of the MacArthur Foundation to the “Corruption: Not In My Country” project. This had packed a huge punch that gave major fillip to the earlier instances of funding by organisations like the European Development Fund, in its concert with UNODC and UNDP, though with much of the illustrious work being reviewed was made possible. Hence, the resounding chorus of gratitude was offered by AFF, not only to the On Nigeria programme of the MacArthur Foundation, but also to its seasoned leadership, comprising such change administrators like Dr. Kole Shettima, Erin Sines, Dayo Olaide, Amina Salihu, and their other noteworthy colleagues. With the uncommon industry exhibited by AFF in its social crusade against the monster of corruption in the past three years, it becomes easier – with a deepening of this process – to dream of a future in which most Nigerians will be able to say, with all sense of conviction, that: “Corruption: Not in my country!” Which one of the foundation‘s work for the poor and vulnerable in Nigeria can be forgotten. Is it a newspaper report on how he confronted the Nigerian Police for illegally detaining and killing a poor Gbagi Trader in Ibadan, Mr. Kehinde Omotosho? Is it how he ensured the matter got the attention of the Oyo State Human Rights Tribunal or is it how he enlisted the support of Afe Babalola Chambers to take up the matter and defend the poor family till they are now about to get justice? While Nigerians celebrate the Akin Fadeyi Foundation’s credible and genuine milestones, they must not forget that the promoter of the foundation has been championing and advancing true cause for a better Nigeria -a great sacrificing costs that risks to his very existence from institutional repression and certain events in government who are uncomfortable with his guts. The FlagIt App is a game changer and no one likes to see his or her name on electronic devices as aiding corruption.


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