The Programme Manager of Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu, has said that about N1.3 trillion of public funds was reportedly laundered between 2011 and 2015 alone.
Mbamalu who noted this at the National Debate Competition on Anti-Corruption in Abuja said the bribes are given for a variety of reasons, but most especially to obtain a government service, speed up a procedure or avoid paying a fine.
She further explained that a December 2019 report by the National Bureau of Statistics on the patterns and trends of corruption in Nigeria revealed that young people are most likely to give or receive bribes, with at least 60percent admitting to having given bribes.
According to her , these bribes are given for a variety of reasons, but most especially to obtain a government service, speed up a procedure or avoid paying a fine.
She said that through the debates, the views of young Nigerians would be harnessed into the fight against corruption as well as for propagating the values of integrity, transparency, and accountability.
In his words “When this data is placed side-by-side with the high rate of youth unemployment and underemployment which is 42percent and 21percent in a country which has millions of young people finishing their studies with no job prospects, it further increases the pressure on them to offer bribes in order to secure jobs.
“As such, it has become important to engage young Nigerians on how to fight corruption and enshrine integrity, accountability, and transparency into the fabric of our society, and in our public and private sectors.
“As the group that suffers most from the effects of corruption, young people can be instrumental in the fight against corruption in Nigeria and using peer influence to spread values of transparency and accountability.”
Also, the National Union of Campus Journalists (NUCJ), Secretary, Uchenna Igwe, said that there is hardly any section that it has not pervaded, adding that the menace was destroying most things necessary for human and capital development and confining the people to the most desperate levels of poverty.
According to Igwe, It is the main reason why Nigeria struggles to feed and provide jobs for its citizens, as the cost of living continues on a steady rise.
“Due to the greed and corruption of a few, hundreds of thousands of lives are lost annually to preventable diseases, crime and insecurity.
“The government has put in place measures to anti-corruption. However, there’s an urgent need for citizens to get involved.
“As young people, we must rise to the occasion, and contribute to stemming the tide of the challenges that plague our nation. We owe this as a duty to ourselves, and the children we had have in the years to come.
“If the foundation of the issues we face today are consequences of the actions and inactions of the older generation, then it leaves little to imagination what would be if we do nothing today.
“I charge us not to be drowned by the illusion of “tomorrow”. Why wait for tomorrow to tackle the issues of today? Problem no dey finish.
“If we do nothing about today’s challenges, they will compound just like house chores, leaving even much more to do. I’m sure we’ll agree that the lesser we have to tackle at the time, the easier and better for us all.
“We must shun and condemn corrupt practices, imbibe good values and lead good examples in our homes, campuses, hostels, workspaces, religious and social fellowships, even as we interact with people in our communities every day.
“We must speak out and speak up. Then, we must also walk the talk. Corruption will not budge if we don’t get actively involved,” he said.
Also, the General Secretary Mr Frankline Ubi, commended Yiaga Africa for the initiative adding that debate offered a platform for vigorous interaction and activism.
According to Ubi ,debate is an effective weapon in the development of democratic values in developing countries like Nigeria where impunity and corruption existed.
He said that for youths to prepare for their future roles as leaders, they should show interest in the present by interrogating policies and debate therefore was a viable tool to use.
He said that universities had a role to play as a sector whose primary duty was the generation of knowledge for the development of society.
The University of Lagos came first the National Debate Competition while University of Jos came second.