Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has admitted that despite the sustained campaign by his government against corruption, some agencies of the government still engage in corrupt practices.
The president, who made this disclosure yesterday in the State House while swearing in the chairman and members of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), said such agencies of the federal government either divert government funds or fail to give full account of the revenues they generate.
He tasked the newly-constituted board led by Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye to support the federal government in the effort to bring perpetrators of such crimes to book through the enforcement of anti-corruption laws and equally evolve policies aimed at preventing revenue leakage and diversion.
The president also admonished the commission to cooperate with other agencies of the federal government such as the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation with a view to whittling down the forces of corruption.
“As I have noted in recent times, despite our anti-corruption drive, some agencies of government still divert or refuse to fully account for revenue generated. Rather than obey constitutional provisions and extant rules and regulations, such agencies continue as if nothing has changed.
“We are determined to ensure that every agency of government account for public revenue generated or expended. I am looking forward to ICPC’s support both for enforcement of anti-corruption laws and submission of policy measures and directives to prevent revenue leakage and diversion.
“In this regard, I urge you to collaborate with other government agencies such as the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation towards mitigating wrong-doing in public expenditure. Furthermore, I look forward to receiving anti-corruption recommendations linked to e-Government standards and principles”, the President urged.
Buhari described abuse of office for private benefits as well as the circumvention of public policies and processes for profit motive and competitive advantage as the worst form of corruption.
The president also alleged that those who are aggrieved by the war against corruption often berate him because of the focus, determination and single mindedness of his government on anti-graft war.
According to the president, the fight against corruption is crucial to national development, pointing out that the menace had done grave damage to the development of this country.
He added, “The fight against corruption is very crucial in our national development. This is why I have often said – if we do not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria. We are all witnesses to the damage that unbridled corruption has inflicted on our development aspirations. Apart from deliberate and wanton looting of our national wealth and common patrimony, corruption has eroded our values and ethical foundation as a nation.
“Corruption has negatively affected our political, economic and social life. Those opposed to our fight against corruption berate us for our focus, determination and single mindedness. They pretend that they do not know what corruption is. But Nigerians know what corruption is. Ordinary people know what corruption is and they support our effort and determination to fight it.
“The abuse of public office for private gain represents corruption in its worst form. The circumvention of public policies and processes for competitive advantage and profit is another form of corruption.
“The abuse of public office for personal benefit even if no bribery occurs is also corruption. The diversion of State revenue or miss-application of budgeted funds falls into the same category.”
The president further said he was glad that the ICPC Act under, which the new board would operate was rich enough to assist the federal government in salvaging the public sector of corruption, public procurement, diversion of public revenue and deliberate misuse of public fund.
Recalling the maxim that “prevention is better than cure,” the president reminded the board of its mandate and encouraged it to evolve what he described “as strong preventive policy measures and strategies for government’s endorsement to take us to the ‘Next Level’ in the fight against corruption.”
He also advised members of the board to deploy their skills and expertise to fish out ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), which according to him, are “highly prone to corruption and what must be done to bring about better governance.”
He advised them to make use of Anti-Corruption Transparency Unit (ACTU) in MDAs that was recently launched by ICPC to stop corruption and ensure full compliance with federal government’s anti-corruption measures and other extant laws.
In his remarks, the new ICPC Chairman, Owasanoye, showered praises on the president, saying the board members were lucky to be given the assignment, promising that members of the board would strive hard to live up to the president’s expectation.
“We are lucky to be given this assignment because under your leadership, your unquestionable, unequivocal and unshakable resolve to deal with corruption is very well “Therefore, the political will required to fight corruption is available. I pledge on behalf of the commission and members that we will do our best not to disappoint you or disappoint the country,” he stated.