by idayat Hassan
Published on: Dec 23, 2005
Type: Opinions

With the release of the 2004 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) on the 20th October 2004, Nigeria was ranked 144th out of 146 countries.

Our beloved nation Nigeria was third from last, an improvement over the nation’s last and second-last positions in 2000 and 2002 respectively. This generated a lot of heated debate within the government, especially with the President denying the corruption level in the country while at the same time questioning the TI’s perception index methodology.

Despite this, the fact still remains that Nigeria is a corrupt nation. Corruption is so pervasive in Nigeria that almost all facets of human life have been affected by one form of corruption or another, including houses of God and the educational sector, and this lowers the quality of skills and competitiveness in the labor market.

Corruption is endemic in Nigeria. It has really undermined development over the years. It has denied the people the full benefit of the huge amount of resources available for development. It has also retarded economic growth, distorted economic and political programs and undermined every effort to create a just and free society. It has consistently undermined social and political order in the country. It has destroyed good governance.

The attitude of citizens toward corruption has been problematic. Although the negative impact of corruption on a larger scale is widely accepted, its effect on everyday life often remains obscured. Where it is recognized, people are generally pessimistic about the prospects of fighting corruption successfully. The government has now renewed its effort in the fight against corruption, especially with the arrest of top government officials. But the battle against corruption cannot be fought and won by the Anti-Corruption Commissions alone or by continuing to deal with the older leadership that we say is corrupt. It also needs new ideas from those who will run the economy and the state in the years to come; it needs the fresh blood of youth who possess both the capability and the will to shape a prescribed path for their own future.

Consequently, there is an urgent need for awareness-raising campaigns that draw attention to the everyday effects of corruption and effective means of curbing corruption. This increased awareness is vital for success, and the mobilization of young people is especially crucial in this regard.

It is against this background that teaching integrity becomes germane as everyone, including youngsters, is capable of contributing to the establishment of a corrupt-free society by being a responsible and honest individual.

Ethics education is central to preventing corruption. Even clear laws and regulations and well-designed institutions will not be able to prevent corruption unless citizens actively demand accountability and transparency from governments and their institutions.

Ethics education for young people can help to break the cycle of corruption, as today’s youth are the leaders of tomorrow. However, anti-corruption education does not work in isolation. The environment in which children grow up plays a decisive role in shaping their attitudes. Ethics education must be part of a broader effort to improve governance and reduce corruption. Within this framework, children must have an appropriate and conducive learning environment that values integrity.

Thus, in order to be credible, anti-corruption teaching must relate to the daily lives of the students and address real life ethical dilemmas, conflicts of interest and corruption cases.

The ethics education program focuses around students of both secondary and tertiary institutions, and youths generally using seminars and training. Using speakers who are local ‘everyday heroes’ will captivate youths’ interest by providing situations they can relate to.

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