Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal
*Dasuki, Ribadu flay impact of malaise
Lamorde: Public sector graft tops EFCC probe
By Muhammad Bello and Dele Ogbodo
The federal government has been called upon to consider providing adequate funding to anti-corruption agencies in order to boost their fight against corruption and insecurity in the country.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, made this appeal Monday at the opening of a two-day national conference on ‘Corruption and National Security in Nigeria’, organised by the Institute for Anti-Corruption Studies of the University of Abuja .
According to him, “I am sure that you will find that our anti-corruption agencies are seriously and grossly underfunded and without adequate funding, there is no way they can fight corruption.
“We are in most cases being accused of padding the budget as if it is not our constitutional responsibility to actually do that. So I am using this platform to call on you to understand the role of the legislators in budgetary process.”
Tambuwal, who spoke ex-tempore, said the National Assembly should not be exonerated from the lack of adequate funding for anti-graft bodies, expressing displeasure over the view held by the executive arm of government that legislators ‘pad’ the budget in pursuance of their own selfish interests.
“We are not being meddlesome when we say certain provisions being proposed by the executive should be enhanced for that agency of government to function optimal level. And that is what the anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria are facing today.
“As I said go back to the budget and check the funding pattern of the anti-corruption agencies and you will definitely find out that the funding provision is quite inadequate,” he said.
The speaker, who insisted that government should give proper incentives for the training and re-training of security operatives and anti-corruption personnel to enable them combat terrorism, said: “There is no doubt our country is faced with insecurity challenges and corruption today just like so many years back.”
Tambuwal also admitted that the fight against corruption and insecurity was seriously “giving us a lot of sleepless nights,” stressing that though corruption had been around for decades, there was an urgent need to address it squarely, starting from schools through the reorientation of the younger ones on the dangers and consequences of corrupt practices.
“It is a common knowledge that corruption is all over the place, ranging from institutions of higher learning themselves and virtually all sectors of our national life, so there is need for us to re-orientate ourselves and face a direction so that we can have a better society.
“For me, we need to embark on serious re-orientation to address the challenges and there is a need for a diagnosis to properly fund the security agencies to have proper training to be able face terrorism especially as it is a new phenomenon here.
“And also for the anti-corruption agencies not only to be independent on paper but also to have adequate funding and the requisite financial muscle to face the uphill tasks of the fight against corruption,” Tambuwal said.
He, therefore, advocated for a holistic approach to solving the problem of corruption, enumerating that schools for corruption studies should be established, with the re-orientation of citizens intensified as well as the need to overhaul the existing legal framework, which makes it difficult to prosecute people accused of corruption.
On his part, the pioneer Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, admitted that the impact of corruption and insecurity had placed the country in a most difficult situation today.
He said: “We don’t need to talk about about corruption as you all know it, because you feel it every day. We also know today insecurity what it is, those things that we used to hear in other lands are now with us. Sadly and tragically our young boys will wire themselves and blow themselves up.”
According to him, most countries that are faced with the twin problem of corruption and insecurity hardly survive it, noting that: “Behind the insecurity all over the world is corruption.”
The former EFCC chairman added that Nigeria was precariously facing similar situation today, stating that: “I pray this will not happen in this country. I know the root cause of all these, because I happen to be a lawyer, a police prosecutor, and have participated actively in the justice sector of Nigeria so I know it started, how it happened now and the whole process of the chain. It all started when we decided not to follow the rule of law.”
As a way out, he suggested for massive investment in the Nigeria Police Force, stating that: “And when our leaders in the last three decades deliberately don’t understand that they needed to invest in their law enforcement agencies.
“There is no way the Nigeria Police Force can be replace because constitutionally, they are the only one responsible for law enforcement and gradually, little by little especially during the military era, the functions of the police were substituted with others.
“There is no way you can replace that institution because it is the only institution that can be found in all the communities. It is only the police that do have police stations, it is only the force that knows where an appeal or magistrates’ court is. It is only the police force that has connection with the prisons. This is a justice sector and a chain that has been destroyed. This is very sad and tragic and sometimes I shed tears when I see these things happening to the Nigeria Police Force probably out of ignorance or deliberate, I don’t understand.
“Ladies and gentlemen, let’s take these two matters very seriously, these two dangerous things are in vogue today and we are in trouble in this country and if we do not do much towards addressing them, we may lose our country and it is true, as we have seen it happen in so many countries and we should not allow it to happen,” he said.
In his speech, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.), said corruption was an all-encompassing menace that affected different aspect of the nation’s growth and development.
“Corruption has a direct impact on good governance and where the latter is lacking, national security problems abound, leading to tension in the polity and the society as well as social upheavals with attendant violence and demonstrations,” Dasuki said.
Dasuki, who was represented by an official in his office, challenged the conference to ensure that its findings are communicated to the appropriate audience, adding that: “The outcome of this conference if properly communicated is capable of guiding some national security decisions and also help shape some government policies which may be for the betterment of the citizenry.”
In his remarks, Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, who was represented by his Director of Planning and Statistics, Mr. David Tokuru, said 62 per cent of EFCC’s investigation were public sector driven corruption through money laundering.