Tajudeen Abbas, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, has affirmed the commitment of lawmakers to ensure that Nigerians receive a survival wage that can adequately support them, as part of the ongoing review of the minimum wage.
Represented by Oluwole-Oke, who represents Obokun/Oriade Federal Constituency of Osun State, Mr. Abbas conveyed this assurance on Tuesday in Abuja during the National Policy Dialogue on Corruption, Social Norms, and Behavior Change in Nigeria.
This event was organized jointly by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Anti-Corruption Academy of Nigeria, with support from the MacArthur Foundation.
While pledging the legislators’ backing for the ICPC’s anti-corruption efforts, the Speaker highlighted the necessity of addressing factors that either incentivize or propagate corruption.
“We must acknowledge that there are different factors that influence the attitude or action of citizens to indulge in corruption.
“For instance, the question around a survival wage system is a big factor.
“A situation where the take home pay of a large segment of the population is unable to take them home is a recipe for all manner of corruption.
“This is why the House of Representatives is particularly interested in the ongoing review of minimum wage in the country. The House this time around will ensure that Nigerians get a survival wage that could take them home,” he said.
He said that in many societies, where corruption is on a low scale, there are social safety nets that guarantee protection for the people and Nigeria had the capacity to do the same.
“As lawmakers, there is often a significant societal pressure and expectation placed upon us to provide various services, assistance, and functions that may fall outside the scope of legislative responsibilities.
“I am sure we are familiar with the level of pressure legislators undergo owing to a deluge of requests for financial and corollary assistance from our constituents.
“Make no mistakes about it, this pressure is a fallout from the prevailing poverty rate, precipitated by the factors mentioned above,” he said.
According to him, while changing social norms is essential for combating corruption effectively, we must equally address those circumstances that inform those behaviours.
“Behaviour change interventions aim to challenge existing norms and promote ethical behaviour.
“These interventions can take various forms, including awareness campaigns, education programmes, value reorientation, community engagement initiatives, and legal reforms.
“By targeting social norms and promoting ethical behaviour, it is possible to create an environment where corruption is less tolerated and more strongly condemned,” he said.
The speaker said that it was not enough to advocate a change of attitude or behaviour, there must be deliberate policy of the government in this regard.
Mr Abbas said that the policy had to address a living wage for citizens and close the gap created by governance failure.
“Let me state that curbing corruption in Nigeria through social norms and behavior change requires a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach.
“By targeting social norms, raising awareness, strengthening institutions, promoting ethical leadership, and implementing effective legal measures, social security policy, it is possible to create a society where corruption is less tolerated and more actively combated,” he said.
In the same vein, the President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, represented by his Deputy Chief of Staff, Saviour Enyiekere, said fighting corruption was a complex and multifaceted challenge.
“However, we must keep harping on the need to fight corruption and also, point out strategies that will help out country to give the fight all the push that it deserves.
“For me, tackling corruption involves transparency and accountability; it is also about strengthening the legal frameworks.
“Nigeria is not lacking in such legal frameworks and the 10th Senate under my leadership is positioned to bridge any existing legislative gaps in the fight against corruption.
“However, institutions like the ICPC must enforce comprehensive anti-corruption laws that criminalise corrupt activities, establish clear guidelines for ethical behaviours,” he said.
According to him, the extant laws of Nigeria have provided for the independence of the judiciary and effective law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute corruption cases.
He also stressed the need to develop the courage to promote a culture of ethics and integrity in our schools.
“This is because fostering a culture of ethics and integrity in the society through education and awareness campaigns will help to promote such values as honesty and transparency and accountability from an early age.
“We must make deliberate efforts to encourage civil society organisations, the media, and educational institutions to play active roles in promoting ethical behaviours as well.
“We must also seek new ways of fostering active and engaged civil society that can hold governments at all levels accountable,” he said .
He said that “if we must win the war on corruption, we must also improve on our financial transparency rating by promoting responsible business practices, and strict enforcement of anti-corruption procedures in both public and private sectors.”