Nigerian fintech guru advocates technology as way out of corruption

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John Obaro, Managing Director of Nigeria’s foremost technology firm, SystemSpecs, has enjoined government, regulators as well as other players in the private and public sectors of the Nigerian economy to leverage technology to tackle the menace of corruption and illicit flow of funds.

Obaro made this disclosure on Tuesday as he shared thoughts during a panel discussion at the 2-day Africa Regional Webinar on Combating Corruption and Illicit Financial Flows in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).

At the event where vice president of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, delivered the keynote address, Obaro noted the damage corruption is inflicting on Nigeria and the need to put in place a system driven by technology to minimise human intervention, reduce the use of discretion in financial matters, encourage the adoption of an end-to-end digital system, fully embrace a cashless economy and minimise the time to justice.

“It is indisputable that as a nation we must now, more than ever, know everyone and update their data as they progress through life. It is, therefore, time we took a critical look at our identity management system and converge all data that exist in various silos, for the national good.”

He also emphasised the need to deploy and enforce clear budgeting processes and ensure procurement systems are automated. Obaro noted that the execution of smart contracts and clear tax laws can go a long way in minimising the use of discretion, especially in the management of public funds.

In address, vice president Osinbajo said: “Our experience in Nigeria as in other developing countries is that anonymous corporate ownership covers a multitude of sins including conflict of interests, corruption, tax evasion, money laundering, and even terrorism financing.” 

He added the need to protect those that fight corruption: “Secondly, we must protect, even more, whistle-blowers – persons who come forward with information against corruption.”

Obaro, on his part, encouraged the Nigerian Government to work towards a system that digitises processes across various facets of life including our electoral system.

“At the earlier stage of TSA implementation, people presented receipts they had used before – a practice from the pre-TSA era. However, as a result of the checks put in place through technology, that old practice that let people defraud the system was put to an end.”

Obaro also said the country could take advantage of this current period to encourage individual and corporate citizens to minimise the use of cash and instead adopt the digital channels.

“It is time to truly go digital,” he said, identifying the need to adopt a workable system whereby e-payment would be the major avenue for transactions, promote financial inclusion and encourage a credit culture in which people would not need to amass resources before they can acquire the essential needs of life like housing and shelter.

The fintech leader congratulated the ICPC on its efforts in the twenty years of its existence and encouraged the commission to work with partner agencies and organisations to ensure that the wheel of corruption grounds to a halt in Nigeria

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