The Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) held a press conference on the state of nation, demanding that the Nigerian government takes “decisive steps and actions” towards alleviating poverty and fighting corruption.

Members of CACOL speaking at the press conference

In its press conference, the group described the 2016 budget as “a budget of corruption,” revealing “several ‘paddings,’ ‘inflated figures,’ … and bloated and unnecessary expenses.” They demanded "urgent passage" of the budget now.

CACOL lamented the state of the Nigerian economy, which has been hit hard by slumping oil prices on the global market. The group criticized the Nigerian government for giving into the demands of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank by embracing neoliberal policies, such as privatization schemes. The group also attacked leaders for their failure to address the extreme poverty so much of the nation faces.

“Prior to now and till now, no government since 1999 has attempted to implement or even bothered about what Chapter 2 of Nigerian Constitution says, and that is the ground norm upon which government is instituted; this explains why there is no social protection for the extremely poor. A political will to begin to make social economic rights as enshrined in chapter 2 of the constitution enforceable would be a departure from the past which will indicate clearly the direction of government socio-economically.”

With regards to corruption, CACOL focused on two recent developments: the Panama Papers leak and the trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki. The group criticized the government’s indifference towards corruption, and especially towards the Panama Papers, which implicated several wealthy Nigerians.

“With such a lackadaisical or indifferent attitude on the part of the government toward global issues like the Panama Papers leak, especially when so-called leaders from Nigeria are mentioned in the scam, the celebrated anti-corruption drive of the government and the anti-corruption poise of the present regime may as well just be described as a ‘ruse.’”

The activists demanded that the government pays “special attention” to the revelations from the leaks and to carry out effective investigations. They specifically call for the investigation and prosecution of Bukola Saraki, James Ibori, Theophilus Danjuma and David Mark.

CACOL concluded its press conference by outlining its demands.

“We demand that the government wakes up from slumbering and play its fundamental and constitutional role by taking decisive steps and actions; by exercising political will to achieve alleviation of the catastrophic situation of living of the vast majority of Nigerians by confronting the resent socio-economic situation like emergency situations are confronted.”

The group also demanded stricter enforcement of anti-corruption laws, harsher penalties for corruption and looting, greater government intervention into the power and energy crises, and the immediate passage of the 2016 budget.

The press conference came one day after other civil society organizations staged a demonstration in Abuja over the government’s inaction on the Panama Papers.

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