The Minister of Youths and Sports, Barrister Solomon Dalong, Tuesday, said Nigerian youths should begin to play key roles in the fight against corruption rather than submitting themselves to people with questionable characters.
The Minister said the process should begin with the resolve by youths to stop conceding their leadership capacity to those in government who have corruptive tendencies, urging them to declare war of conscience against corruption in all ramifications.
The minister threw the challenge at Nigerian youths at the opening session of a two-day National Conference on Youths Against Corruption organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
Dalong blamed the youths for aiding and abetting corruption in Nigeria, adding that they willingly submit themselves to people with questionable wealth, most especially those in government.
He condemned what he observed as the inordinate crave by the present day Nigerian youth for wealth, just as he expressed regrets that some of the youths now prefer to live large by riding in expensive cars, with love to display affluence even as student leaders.
He tasked the youths to borrow a leaf from past leaders who he said operated as the conscience of the society with the ways and manners they were whipping successive governments into line while discouraging their bad policies.
The minister recalled his days in the leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) when students rejected a parcel of land in a choice area of Abuja from the past government of late General Sani Abacha just to prove that they could not be corrupted.
Speaking at the conference, the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Colonel Ahmeed Ali told the students to take possession of the fight against corruption since they have always been the victim of the vices of corruption at all times.
He said the role of the youths in the fight against corruption must be paramount because they constitute the better dream of any society, reminding them to always constitute themselves into a vanguard of change for a better Nigeria.
The Customs boss said: “The fight against corruption cannot be won until we adopt a different social, political, economic and religious path to living a life free of corruption.
“The failures of the older generation to instill the right morals and ethics must give way to a new perspective on doing things. Corruption must be regarded for the evil that it is and the short term benefits it provides, rejected as toxic to the stability of Nigeria”
The Chairman of ICPC, Mr. Ekpo Nta, in his address, expressed gladness that the youths of Nigeria are now being integrated into the fight against corruption, charging them to explore the collaboration of ICPC with youths to define the role they want to play in the fight against corruption.
The ICPC boss said he was pleased to have youths team up with the commission in its efforts to rid Nigeria of corruption, recalling that the decision to hold the conference on Nigerian Youths and war against corruption emanated from the youths in the first instance.
On the achievements of the commission in recent times, Nta said the ICPC had sanitised the education sector in Nigeria by conducting University System Study Review, which, according to him, led to the closure of 63 illegal universities in Nigeria and the prosecution of their proprietors.
He also alluded to its collaboration with the Tertiary Education Fund TETFund, through which he stressed ICPC has been able to put in place ethical values in the Nigerian universities.
He said the synergy between ICPC and TETFund had led to the laying of infrastructures in the Nigerian universities by 76 percent, just as he also lauded the collaborative efforts between ICPC and the Universal Basic Education (UBEC) for developing National Value curriculum for schools at both the primary and tertiary levels in Nigeria.
In his address, Professor Olu Aina, who headed the Planning Committee for the Conference, said the conference could not have come at a better time; given the willingness by youths to join the fight against corruption.
Commending the ICPC for taking up the initiative to hold the conference, Professor Aina further charged the youths to seize the opportunity of their partnership with ICPC to define the level of their involvement in the fight against corruption.
The National President of the NANS, Comrade Tijani Usman Shehu, in his address, suggested that the conference be replicated at the zonal level to enhance a wider participation by youths across the country.
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