As the world marks the 2020 International Anti-Corruption Day, a civil society group, Action for Socio-political and Economic Change (ASEC), Wednesday tasked government at all levels to be open in their day-to-day running of government affairs with a view to letting the people follow through.
The call was made by the Coordinator of the group, Leftist Osazee Edigin, while speaking with newsman in commemoration of the 2020 International Anti-Corruption Day in Benin City.
This year’s International Anti-Corruption Day with the theme ‘Recover with Integrity’ was to examine the effect of COVID-19 pandemic and the fight against corruption; the need for state actors to be transparent and accountable in their dealings in the face of the novel pandemic that threw the world into a state of uncertainty.
Edigin said irrespective of the negative effect of the pandemic on revenue drive, government in its bid in cushioning its socio-economic effect on the people by way of providing palliatives has not been transparent in providing data of relief materials received from donors and inventory of distribution to the people.
Edigin, while noting that the EndSARS protests led to the discovery of palliatives stored by government across the country, berrated politicians hoarding palliatives meant for the public in the face of hunger that was ravaging the country.
The ASEC Coordinator expressed disappointment on how budget documents, financial statements and auditor’s reports have become sacred documents that the citizens cannot have access to, just as he said the fight against corruption and corrupt practices should start from making such documents accessible for citizens scrutiny.
“It’s worthy of note that, the purpose for a government to be instituted is because there are citizens and tax payers’ monies to be deployed, that whatever the government is receiving or spending is being done in trust for the people”, he posited.
Leftist Edigin who decried the muzzling of local government constitutional revenue rights by the state government, noted that almost all the statutory powers including collection of certain levies and rates has been taking over by the state government. He said this act contravene provision in the 4th schedule in the 1999 Constitution of the federation as amended.
He said the collection of Land Use Charge by state government which incorporates tenement rates constitutionally to local government councils and the taking over of outdoor advertisement and Signage rates are steps toward the total crippling of local government councils in the state.
He tasked the state and local governments the need to be transparent and open in public business as it builds confidence, trust and patriotism on the part of citizens,
Edigin stated further that budget documents, financial statements and auditor’s reports should always be made public for citizens to know how their commonwealth is being managed by those who hold power in trust for them.
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Action for Socio-political and Economic Change (ASEC) is an affiliate organisation of Edo Civil Society Organisations.