Omololu Akinwande, is the President/Executive Secretary, Children Anti-Corruption Initiative (CACTI), a non-profit organisation that is leading the campaign against corruption in high and low places. He shares the vision of his organisation in this interview with Ibrahim Apekhade Yusuf and Musa Odoshiomokhe
I want to say that all efforts toward anti-corruption by the adult have failed. The EFCC, ICPC, Code of Conduct, all the stratagem that were actually put in place to actually check corruption have not given us the desired result. You will agree with me that they have not met the anti-corruption expectation and that is the reason why this organisation came on board. If you look at it, the adult so to say; our parents who are teachers in schools, heads in both corporate and private organisations could not meet the anti-corruption organisation expectation, the question now is what is the solution? And this happen on May 29, 2008, when a group of individuals came together having overviewed the system and the problems associated with the development and progress of Nigeria, discovered that corruption is the major obstacle to the system. When we now look at it from another perspective, we came with the conclusion that let us work on the children; the belief is that the children are essentially the adult of tomorrow, you and I were once children, certain values that were inculcated in us from the beginning are still with us. Essentially, what CACTI is trying to do is to look at another way in correcting the ills of society. And we discovered that the best way is to involve the youths that we should meet them where they are, like in schools, religion organisations, to actually pass the kind of orientation we think our youth desired especially on the re-orientation of children, visit them at schools and explain to them what corruption entails, where it thrives and what they can do right from their childhood to guide against corruption.
Your effort may yield minimal result because when these kids get home they still relate with corrupt parents, how do you tackle this?
We are in a world that has changed quickly, we are in a world where children are conscious of their rights, and you will agree with me that we are in a world where a two or three year old child reacts to how they are treated. Fine, let me say that some parents may not tell the child what corruption is all about because they are guilty of it. There are some individuals that are still very upright who have integrity, who are saddled with the responsibilities of teaching these children what corruption is about. The problem is that when the child gets anti-corruption information aside from the parent’s angle, the child has a better chance of even correcting the father or mother. For instance, we try to expose certain behaviours of parent which portray them as liars when they exhibit one, such a child of course, know that their parents are not saying the truth and will point this out. Apparently, such parents would have to change and tell the truth to their children because they have been exposed. So, when the child gets what corruption is all about from another angle aside the parents, the child stands a better chance of putting the parents through. It is like you saying no to corruption right from your childhood. Before we started this campaign, we have not been enjoying regular electricity, children believe that it is a normal thing and that is how it should be. It is a normal thing for us to have bad road and power failure all the time but through our campaign we have been telling children that this is not normal. Our inability to have electricity all the time, seeing destitute all over the places is due to corruption. Corruption in high and low places, inadequacies of government, they now started to have a new orientation, that what happened is not normal. Essentially, what we are saying is that what you inculcate in the children is what they grow up with and believe in. And given that parents that are corrupt will not teach children not to be corrupt hence CACTI is taking the lead in the campaign against grassroots corruption. There is a friend of mine who said ‘ah Omololu, we thank you for what you are doing’. This is probably because the parents are not open or do not have the moral justification to stop the children from what they are doing. From what we are doing we discovered that parents are thankful and appreciate what we are doing.
In the next five years where do you project that CACTI should be?
In the next five years, we hope we would have become an organisation that makes impact, we would have got to a stage where the Nigerian child is exposed. What we discovered when we started is that most of these children as innocent as they are they have no idea of what corruption is all about. For these children to grow up and become the pride of society we need to let them know what constitute corruption and its consequences on the larger society. It is when you have information about something that you work against it. You cannot work against what you don’t have information about. So, in the next fives years we want to see an organisation that is able to impact on the lives of children in the nursery and primary schools. We focus more on children in nursery and primary schools than in secondary schools. We discovered that children in primary schools are still very innocent, they have not been exposed to acts capable of affecting their lives negatively hence the need to get them involved at that level so that we can educate them properly in the right direction. It is easier to check children in this category than their senior counterpart whose mind appeared to be more rigid.