It is my pleasure to be in the midst of this august gathering today. I am particularly delighted that I am being honoured with the role of Special Guest of Honour on this occasion which seeks to give credence to the anti-corruption crusade of this administration. I thank members of Probity in Nigeria for this laudable initiative.

Let me say that I am very happy to identify with Probity in Nigeria because of the anti-corruption ideals which it stands for. It is common knowledge that Nigeria going by statistics from Transparency International ranks among the most corrupt countries in the world.

To me, this should not bother anybody. What should be our challenge is how to pull the country out of this unenviable position. And I am convinced that democracy provides us an opportunity to do this. Without democracy, it is difficult to establish checks and balances mechanisms to monitor the various arms of government. But with democracy, it is easier for one arm of government to monitor effectively the activities of the other. This administration since it was inaugurated on May 29, 1999 has realized the need to check the spectre of corruption in the body polity. To make good its pledge to wipe out corruption from our psyche and culture, it established the A Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

In the Senate, we have long realised that corruption in any guise does not make for good governance. Hence we have always allowed ourselves to be guided by the highest ideals of national peace, integrity, transparency and collectivism. This has helped us to check any form of corruption. We are mindful of the fact that the legislature is the torchbearer, in fact, the bastion of democracy. Any legislature weakened on the basis of corruption cannot adequately discharge its oversight functions of monitoring. This informed my resolve upon becoming the President of the Senate to design a leadership model that will promote transparency, collectivism and accountability. I make bold to say that since my tenure as Senate President, the Senate has operated most transparently. Upon my assumption of office, I was confronted with a Senate that was deeply polarized along party lines, religious and ethnic sentiments, personal rivalries and so on. 

However, acting under divine guidance, I worked out a pattern of leadership where everybody became part of the decision-making process. Collective responsibility became the order and this greatly eliminated suspicion and distrust among the Senators. In effect, incidences of corrupt enrichment became a thing of the past because everybody knows what everybody is doing.

This, to me, is the antidote to corruption – openness and fair representation of all Nigerians irrespective of their political affiliation and ethnic background.

I also introduced to the Senate fiscal equality for all Senators and Committees. I encouraged regular dialogue and discussions of the affairs of the Senate and the nation in both plenary and executive sessions. This model of leadership helped to check any form of corruption in the Senate. I am convinced that if such model is replicated at all levels of government and in the private sector, corruption would be a thing for the history books.

I have taken practical steps to design this model in the Senate because I believe that the anti-corruption campaign should start from the leadership. If the leadership is corrupt, the followers will have no other option than to be corrupt. But if the leadership takes pragmatic steps to live above board, the followers will follow suit.