The former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, has decried the rising corruption in Nigeria and has called on the church to be in the forefront in the fight against the menace.
Obi spoke as the Guest Lecturer at the 10th Anthony Cardinal Okogie Lecture series at St. Agnes Catholic Church, Maryland, Ikeja.
On the topic, “Creating a Corruption-free Society: The role of the Church in Nigeria,” Obi pointed out that corruption had inflicted major havoc on the country because it killed entrepreneurship, since nobody was enterprising in a corrupt society.
He said that it also killed hard work, since, according to him, nobody worked hard in a corrupt society, stressing that it equally killed professionalism since nobody aspired to become a professional when it did not pay.
He linked the problems Nigeria is experiencing to corruption.
His words: “All the agitations are as a result of cumulative failure of leadership over the years.”
He said that Nigeria was in a sorry state because the resources that should have been used to develop the country percolated into few private hands.
Regretting the colossal loss by the state due to corruption, Obi recalled that countries like China, Malaysia, South Korea and some others that started economic voyage with Nigeria have all overtaken Nigeria.
He submitted that corruption has crept into every facet of the nation’s life, predicting that “the nation cannot grow if we continue to tolerate corruption.”
Also at the event, the current Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, agreed that unless Nigerians unite now to kill corruption, the monster would soon kill Nigeria.
In his remarks, Vice President Osinbajo, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Anti-Corruption, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, outlined three cardinal ingredients that fuel corruption in the country, including “the culture of silence,” saying, “if we fail to speak out against corruption, we won’t go anywhere; the culture of sycophancy or praise-singing and the celebration of impunity,” arguing that religious organisations are better placed to address such matters.
Lagos State g overnor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, who was represented by Special Adviser on Primary Healthcare, Dr. Olufemi Onanuga, hailed Cardinal Okogie whom he said had demonstrated his commitment and unalloyed passion for the poor in the society, praying that God should continue to preserve him to fearlessly defend the cause of the down trodden.
His Delta State counterpart, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa was represented by his Chief of Staff, Hon. Tam Brisbe.
He was also of the view that unless the nation moves away from the current corrupt culture and develop other economic choices the future of Nigeria is blink.
All the speakers blamed the Church for its softness towards those that are corrupt, including, as Obi said, honouring and conferring on them all manner of awards, and said that the Church must return to being the conscience of the nation by leading the fight. He gave example with the late Bishop of Awka Diocese, Simon Okafor, who rejected a million Naira donation many years ago from a Governor owing workers arrears of salary and asked him to use the money for them.