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Partnering to Mobilize Youth Energies Against Corruption in Nigeria

According to Transparency International’s latest index, Nigeria ranks as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Since the inception of the Index, Nigeria has remained among the worst performing. The effects of corruption have been devastating for the country. It is believed that up to 40% of annual budgets at the national and subnational levels fail to make any impact on the lives of the people on account of corruption. The unemployment rate is alarming, currently standing at 18.8%, it increases quarter after quarter.

Despite the country’s wealth in natural resources including crude oil and natural gas, Nigerians are among the poorest people in the world. Up to 67% of Nigeria’s 170 million people live on less than one US dollar daily; well over 100 million persons surviving painfully far below the poverty line. The impact of corruption is felt in every sector of Nigerian life; from abysmally poor health services to fast declining standards of education, Nigeria is a country in fast decline on account of corruption. Perhaps nothing demonstrates the levels of corruption more than the recently released Spectator Index which ranks Nigeria as having the second worst electricity supply in 2018. Nigeria still fails to guarantee the supply of electricity to its citizens despite billions of dollars invested in the sector in the last 18 years.

Despite the scale of the problem, actions targeted at addressing corruption are limited and superficial. The majority have resigned to fate. Corruption is fast becoming a way of ‘getting by’ in a system where merit is considered an abstraction. For some, it isn’t really corruption anymore, but a mechanism for ‘survival’.

There have been efforts to tackle corruption; the government at the federal level has invested much of its credibility in a fight against corruption in public offices. Unfortunately, the results have been limited, certainly not matching the scale of the problem. The collaboration of We the People and Youth Alive Foundation through a grant from the UK Department for International Development seeks to tackle the problem of corruption through mobilizing the energies of young people around the country to criminalize corruption.

The intervention principally targets 4 locations- Lagos, Rivers, Kano and Abuja. In October and November 2017, a selection of volunteers went around the various locations, interviewing different categories of young people to understand their perception of corruption, how they have been affected by it and how they will like to support a campaign against corruption. The insight gathered is undergoing analyses which will support the development of what may well be the most robust and intense efforts at criminalizing corruption in Nigeria.