By Remi Oyeyemi
I was at Keffi in Nasarawa state to see a friend. He was very enamored that Keffi is having a new facelift and it is getting into its own as one of the “big towns” of the Northern Region. He lapsed into History to point out the importance of Keffi in the political equation of the North and how the town is set to play even bigger roles in the months and years to come.
His optimism was based on what he perceived as the future role of Keffi as the host town to the new anti-graft training school that would soon have international acclaim, at least by his own estimation. He noted that with a dream and vision put in place by a former Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, Justice Emmanuel Ayoola, to establish a training school for the purposes of fighting corruption “and for Keffi to be chosen as the host for this training school, there is no reason for not being optimistic about the future of this historic city.”
Justice Ayoola who came up with the idea of establishing an anti-corruption training school during his tenure had insisted, “For the battle to be successful there must be community acceptance of what you are doing. You cannot fight corruption if you do not change attitudes and culture.” Justice Ayoola believes that establishing the school was a step in the right direction of changing “attitudes and culture.”
This anti-graft training school was a product of an education strategy to reach the cross sections of the Nigerian population. According to Mrs. Rashdeet Okoduwa who was the pioneering boss of the Education and Public Enlightenment Department of the ICPC, “For us to educate one hundred and fifty million people, we would not go out there and just address them all at once or all as they come. We segmented them into professional sector, public sector, private sector, youth sector and educational sector. We also have segments for religious institutions in the society and traditional rulers. We have the informal sector; the grassroots people, market women, the ordinary craftsmen, artisans and drivers in motor parks.”
This strategy seemed to be the progenitor of the newly founded ICPC Training School situated in Keffi. The current chairman of the Commission, Barrister Ekpo Nta believes that carrying out the vision of Justice Emannuel Ayoola as in relation to this school is part of the prevention modalities that he deems far better than curing the malaise of corruption in the on-going anti-graft war. He believes that it is also germane to changing the culture of corruption as it has been previously diagnosed by the former chairman of the commission. Barrister Nta feels that the anti-graft training school is much more pertinent to its mission and expressed the hope that it would be the hub of anti-corruption studies on the African continent and create a standard that would be internationally acknowledged.
The stream of the curriculum is military in nature, while the kernel is civil and legal. Military discipline and greetings permeate the culture while the studies are focused on systemic evaluations in relation to corrupt practices and modern modalities of identifying and preventing such. The process of investigation seemed to have a prime of place in the curriculum in order to be able to operate within the confines of the law and be able to gather necessary evidences that would be tenable in courts of law.
The emphasis is placed on allowing the law to guide in investigating, gathering evidences and prosecuting. There is also concern about treating accused persons or suspects with respect while still being firm in enforcing the law. The age old dictum of an accused being innocent until proven guilty seemed to be a fundamental. Prospective students come from the civil service, the private sector, the civil society, the Armed Forces and the Police as well as the ICPC employees.
The facilities in the school are very scanty. A single stretch of block that has offices on one side with two auditoria, a cafeteria, a fully air conditioned hostel and an officers’ mess. Under construction is a forty-room hostel. Being a school at its infancy, it is still lacking in a functioning Library and internet facilities. The organizational structure of authority in the school is yet to be well defined and seemed to lead to administrative snafu some of the times. The culture of maintenance would need to be taken seriously to ensure that the scanty facilities remain in good condition.
With the plans in place, the future of the school portends a lot of promises. In the offing are the new Administrative Block and Multipurpose Building that would house eating facilities, shops, banks and other commercial entities. A new sports and recreational Center with modern swimming pool, tennis, basketball, badminton and volleyball courts, a soccer pitch and games hall where draught, ayo, chess, monopoly and others would command some attention. Also in the plan are structures for additional hostel, staff quarters, clinic, a mosque and a church. There are plans for two more auditoria with 500 and 1000 capacities respectively.
Folu Alamiti via [email protected]