NIGERIA’S former Minister of Finance and chair of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has charged the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other world bodies to be wary of dealing with civil society organisations (CSOs) claiming to be fighting corruption and promoting transparency in the country.
She said a number of the anti-corruption CSOs currently in the country were actually fronts floated by corrupt people in government in order to give those in power corridors a fake clean bill of health on transparency and open government.
Okonjo-Iweala spoke on Sunday in Washington DC, the United States on the theme Fighting Corruption, at the conclusion of the annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“From outside, you can’t really do so much. You really need to identify the institutions, the people and those who are willing to work on this reform and support them.
“But you need to ensure you are working with the right CSOs and NGOs. We have a joke in my country that you can have NGI instead of NGO. NGI is non-governmental individuals instead of non-governmental organisations.
“The people you are fighting are also very smart. They are not just sitting back. They also develop their own NGOs to serve as a front for them; people who can certify them that they are very accountable for what they are doing.
“So, you have to be careful. You have to be able to identify those who are the proper people. And we have many NGOs in Nigeria and in the African continent who are fighting really hard that to make the govt accountable. But be very careful not to get bogged down.
“Sometimes people from outside think this is needed to sort out who is who and who is what? Who is telling you the truth and who is making up a story to cover up,” she said.
The former Minister canvassed the strengthening of institutions as well as the e-procurement as a veritable means to fight corruption in Nigeria and other places.
She recalled that with the support of the World Bank and IMF, it took Nigeria 10 years “to build Government Integrated Financial Management System in Nigeria, to get away from cash-based transactions.”
She advised the IMF to identify the real anti-corruption CSOs and support them, adding that these groups had developed tools and frameworks to promote open government and transparency.
“The more of e-procurement we can build institutionally and strengthen the institutions along that line, the more we will be able to fight corruption.
“We really need a systematic plan about fighting corruption. The big story about corruption scandals are the ones people like to read. But actually, fighting corruption and putting the necessary system in place is very uns3xy. It takes time,” she said.