Raising the Bar in the Anti-Graft War

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), has raised the stakes in the fight against corruption in Nigeria with the establishment of an anti-corruption academy. The institution known as the Anti-Corruption Academy of Nigeria (ACAN) is the training and capacity building arm of the Commission.

The establishment of ACAN is one of the bold steps taken by the ICPC in recent years to step up the fight against corruption in a more structured, determined and concerted onslaught. It is also partly a fulfilment of Nigeria’s commitment to the global initiative to rid the world of the menace, as the Academy is a key enabling instrument required for the successful implementation of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in the country.

With this singular move, Nigeria has taken its pride of place among the nations that have shown seriousness to tackle corruption under the UNCAC initiative. When the Convention came into force in 2005, it was the first legally binding international anti-corruption instrument, clearly defining corruption in its various forms and setting templates to deal with them through constitutional and legal methods.

The Convention required signatory nations to implement a wide range of measures in areas including law enforcement, asset recovery, mobilisation of stakeholders and international cooperation, for the overall success of the national and global anti-corruption campaign. The challenge posed by this tall agenda gave rise to the need for an intellectual and practical support platform to guide, direct and coordinate the campaign.

That was what led to the establishment of the International Anti-Corruption Academy (IACA) with headquarters in Laxenburg, Austria, by the United Nations. The Academy began operations in September 2010 with a clear mandate to promote advanced academic research on corruption related issues, especially on newer types of corruption as well as provide superior anti-corruption training for various categories of law enforcement practitioners.

IACA was also mandated to provide education, capacity building and necessary technical assistance to relevant groups of stakeholders involved in the anti-corruption fight in both the public and private sectors. The institution has been delivering on these core mandates. Nigeria joined IACA in 2011. Her membership was ratified by the Federal Executive Council in 2012 and the country is proudly represented in IACA’s faculty.

ICPC’s Anti-Corruption Academy of Nigeria (ACAN) is therefore a necessity in the fight to rid the country of the menace. And like IACA, it is poised to make a difference. Situated in a serene environment in Keffi, Nasarawa State, the Academy began operations in November last year, two years behind the target set for its take off by the current Chairman of the ICPC, Mr. Ekpo Nta, due to funding constraints.

However, the Provost of the institution, Professor Sola Akinrinade, who was appointed only last October hit the ground running, as if to make up for the delay in its take-off. The institution has already done its first training programme for officers in the Intelligence Unit of the ICPC, which was concluded in January 2015. According to the Provost, another training programme is scheduled for March 2015. This one, like some others being planned for the year, will involve external participants.

Prof Akinrinade, before his new appointment, was the immediate past Vice Chancellor of the Osun State University, Osogbo and former Visiting Professor to the Nigeria Universities Commission (NUC). He describes the Academy as an investment in the future of the country, a centre of excellence in anti-corruption research, learning, teaching, knowledge dissemination, training and capacity building. According to him, this specialised institution is also expected to become the hub of the activities of IACA in the African region,

Speaking on the mandate given to ACAN by its parent body the ICPC, the Provost listed five key areas of focus. First, its primary duty is to train ICPC staff to meet contemporary challenges of anti-corruption fighting, to enhance the operations of the Commission. By doing this, it will build the capacity of staff to effectively deliver the strategic plan of the commission in its areas of operations including investigation, prosecution, asset recovery, public education and enlightenment.

Second, to engage ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the public sector as well as organisations in the private sector, such as corporate entities, professional bodies and others to address issues of corruption within their own areas of operation. This involves running seminars and workshops to address areas where they are prone to corrupt practices. The academy is already working on the training of Anti-Corruption Units (ACTUs) in the MDAs.

Third, to run special courses that will lead to the certification of anti-corruption professionals. To actualise this, the academy will collaborate with some universities and other relevant academic institutions both in Nigeria and abroad to run post graduate programmes up to Masters degree level for practitioners in the field of anti-corruption to enhance their knowledge and skills. Already, the Senate of the University of Calabar has approved a compulsory first level General Studies Programme in anti-Corruption studies in this regard.

Fourth, the Academy will engage in knowledge production and dissemination. It has a research unit which is already developing a research policy on corruption related issues. This will make it easy to access information on such issues. The academy is backed by state of the art e-learning facilities. The research unit is headed by a renowned scholar from the University of Ibadan.

Fifth, the Academy will network and establish linkages with institutions engaged in specialised training of professionals in both the public and private sectors. These include institutions related to the banking and finance industry, media and legal professions; and public service, among others. Recently, the Provost visited the National Electoral Institute where he sought collaboration to address electoral corruption ahead the 2015 elections.

The Academy has a tall ambition to reach and educate not only the critical stakeholders in anti-corruption fight but also the general populace. This desire is underscored by the global shift of emphasis to preventive mechanisms for fighting corruption through proactive sensitization and education of all stakeholders on ethics and integrity issues as well as compliance with established rules.

In this task, the Academy has the full support of the ICPC Chairman who is eager to have it be a world class institution that will address all the country’s capacity building needs in anti-corruption fighting. All these, however, will depend on the availability of adequate funding.

Adesanya wrote from Abuja.