Religious leaders have been called upon to champion the fight against corruption, by leveraging on the large following they have.
Imam Fuad Adeyemi, the Executive Director of the Just Foundation an NGO in Abuja Nigeria’s capital made the call at the official unveiling of its anti-corruption programme – Encouraging Accountability and Transparency through Faith-based Intervention dubbed ‘Project EAT-Fin’, in Abuja.
He said the project, being funded by grants from the MacArthur foundation, would focus on empowering religious leaders to speak more about corruption and its ills, “rather than constantly preaching prosperity which potentially creates despondency, triggers a sense of competition and desperation to get rich at all costs.”
“We will encourage and support the imams, preachers and their followers to speak against those who use their positions and opportunities to cheat and loot our treasury to their own selfish and ungodly advantage”, he said.
According to Imam Fuad, “the corruption and mad acquisition for wealth is what I refer to as DIGITAL STEALING AND SCIENTIFIC CORRUPTION as some Nigerians have continually devised new approaches just as government is reigning them in; this also makes our partnership and intervention INEVITABLE. We believe that we need all hands linked in the fight against corruption, so that those who hitherto used to celebrate those who gained wealth and fame through corruption would abhor corruption and so withdraw their patronage of such corrupt elements in the society. In particular, we are challenging Imams, Muslim scholars, freelance preachers, youths, women and all the general public to return to the age long values of honesty and integrity, values that had made our societies prosperous.
Re-echoing Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s reaction to the recent Transparent International’s report in which it rated Nigeria very high on the corruption, Imam Fuad said it is indeed a wakeup call for all Nigerians to join in the fight against corruption opining that government alone cannot fight it.
He said “since government has taken the fight from the top, we should support it from below, such that we make it difficult for those who stole our collective treasure to find space with us.”
Also speaking at the event, the representative of the Presidential Action Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) Professor Sadiq Isa Radda while commending the NGO for joining the fight against corruption, reiterated the commitment of government to fight corruption in all facets.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission ICPC which was represented at the event by Dr Musa Usman Abubakar said the agency has and will continue to work with religious bodies to help fight corruption in the country.
According to him, ‘religion and religious institutions including faith – based organizations will remain veritable tools in building and promoting the culture of transparency and accountability, integrity and sound moral values’.
Dr Abubakar said the ICPC had conducted ‘sensitisation forums for leaders of religions and other faith based organizations in 20 states of the federation including-Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Benue, Edo, Enugu, Delta Imo, Kano, Kogi, Lagos, Ondo, Oyo, Osun, Rivers, Sokoto, Kebbi, Bayelsa and Ekiti states…, where we encourage the use of corruption-related issues as topics of sermons in mosques and churches’.
Representing the council of the league of Imams in Abuja, the Chairman of the league Imam Tajudeen Adigun pledged the support of Islamic clerics to the anti corruption project saying that “Islam has no room or tolerance for corruption’.
The head of the MacArthur Foundation’s Africa Office in Abuja, Dr. Kole Shettima said the foundation’s support for the Al-Habibiyya Islamic Society, owners of the Just Foundation NGO implementing the project EAT-Fin, is in line with its core principles of supporting institutions focused on fighting corruption.