The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) says it has established no fewer than 1, 500 anti-corruption clubs and vanguards in secondary and tertiary schools across the country.

Chairman of the ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, made this known at an event to mark this year’s International Children’s Day celebration in Abuja on Monday.

The clubs are formed in public and private secondary schools, while the Vanguards are in public and private tertiary institutions.

Each of the schools has a minimum of 100 students as members.

The theme of the event is “Marking the International Children’s Day, The Anti-Corruption Way’’.

Owasanoye, who was represented by a member of the commission’s Board, Mrs Olubukola Balogun, said that the event was aimed at making a “strong statement’’ on the imperative of youth active participation in the anti-corruption fight.

He said that the commission, through its various outreach programmes, had trained more than 60, 000 National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members annually and had engaged them actively in the fight against corruption.
He noted that youths, who represented 70 per cent of Nigeria’s population, had higher stake in the future of the nation than the older generations.

“The youth have the impressionist tendencies, the valour and the energy to change circumstances for the better.

“Given the right atmosphere and encouragement, the youth play the pivotal role of change agents, thereby transforming the world for the better,” he said.

Owasanoye said that it was that belief that informed the introduction of many of the youth outreach programmes by the commission to “catch them young.”

“The commission had through the National Values Curriculum (NVC) reviewed the nation’s curricula by infusing positive core values in examinable subjects for teaching across various stages of learning, particularly basic and post-basic levels.”

He said that children’s day was all about the importance of a healthy childhood and how the rights and freedom of children could be protected to enable to grow into happy and healthy adults.

Owasanoye further said that it was in realisation of the importance of children that the commission, for the first time ever, decided to mark the day the anti-corruption way.

“This is by engaging our club members to stage arts exhibitions and inspirational anti-corruption statements that would ginger the world against the scourge,” he said.

On his part, the commission’s Director, Education, Alhaji Mohammed Ashiru, said that the fight against corruption would be more effective if youths at all levels were engaged in the course.

“There is a lot the youth can do to change the circumstances, given the appropriate environment and encouragement.

“That is why we introduced the outreaches in institutions of learning and we have been implementing this programme with huge success right from 2003 when the commission was barely three years old.

“It is our belief that youths have pivotal role to play in the fight against corruption.

“Given the energy and valour, if we can galvanise these using encouragement and they change their attitudes first, then that of the people in the society will also change,” he said.

Mrs Christiana Obaje, Chairperson, Anti-corruption and Transparency Unit of the Ministry of Education, said that the effort by the commission would help to emphasise government’s position on transparency, accountability and the fight against corruption.
“The commission is doing a good work and we in the ministry are ready to support, according to our mandate, to kill the virus called corruption in our nation.”

Obaje, however, urged the children to, as mirrors of their various schools and organisations, make truth and honesty their watchwords.

“Together we can fight corruption and make our nation corruption-free for the next generation,” she said.

One of the students, Abraham Job, of High Grade International School Maraba, Nasarawa State, said that he was now better informed on how to rid the country of corruption.

“We can tame corruption at a tender age,” he said.