Immediate past Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, while chairing Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, on Sunday in Washington DC, United States on the theme: Fighting Corruption, at the conclusion of the annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF),’ said the corrupt public officials in Nigeria are now floating Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, so as to give those in power corridors a fake clean bill of health on transparency and open government.
She warned international organisations to be cautious while dealing with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), claiming to be fighting corruption and promoting transparency in the country.
According to her, “From outside, you can’t really do so much. You really need to identify the institutions, the people and those who are willing to work on this reform and support them.
“But you need to ensure you are working with the right CSOs and NGOs. We have a joke in my country that you can have NGI instead of NGO. NGI is non-governmental individuals instead of non-governmental organisations.
“The people you are fighting are also very smart. They are not just sitting back. They also develop their own NGOs to serve as a front for them; people who can certify them that they are very accountable in what they are doing.
“So, you have to be careful. You have to be able to identify those who are the proper people. And we have many NGOs in Nigeria and in the African continent who are fighting really hard that to make the governments accountable. But be very careful not to get bogged down.
“Sometimes people form outside think this is needed to sort out who is who and who is what? Who is telling you the truth and who is making up a story to cover up,” she said.
She recalled that with the support of the World Bank and IMF, it took Nigeria 10 years “to build Government Integrated Financial Management System in Nigeria, to get away from cash-based transactions.”
She therefore advised the IMF to identify the real anti-corruption CSOs and support them, adding that these groups had developed tools and frameworks to promote open government and transparency.
In her words, “The more of e-procurement we can build institutionally and strengthen the institutions along that line, the more we will be able to fight corruption.
“We really need a systematic plan about fighting corruption. The big story about corruption scandals are the ones people like to read. But actually, fighting corruption and putting the necessary system in place is very uneasy. It takes time.”