Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja
The federal government yesterday admitted that in spite of the ongoing efforts to fight corruption, there are indications that corrupt practices are still predominant in the country.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), and other stakeholders in the fight against corruption, stated this in Abuja while highlighting steps that needed to be taken to build up the government’s anti-corruption war.
It was tagged, ‘’One-day Dialogue Session on Strengthening the Anti-Corruption Agenda: Ensuring Accountability and Transparency’’, and organised by PACAC and the Centre for Democracy and Development,
The SGF, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Special Services, Amina Shamaki, said the Muhammadu Buhari administration had since 2015 — when it came on board, recorded “unprecedented level of successes” in the fight against corruption by securing number of convictions, including very high profile personalities.
However, Mustapha said in spite of the successes recorded, the anti-graft war had not been won.
“Nonetheless, we should not rest on our oars with the illusion that the war has been won despite the level of the successes I have enumerated. While the fight has been very successful in tackling monumental corruption, less grandeur cases are perceived and even reported.
“While the government has displayed uncommon courage to relieve its appointees especially, in its agencies, of their positions and responsibilities, there still exist some level of infractions on Public Procurement Act, and other laws. These tend to diminish the efforts of government in this direction”, the SGF added.
He said there was the need to bring about innovative legislations, policies and measures to deal conclusively with the persistent acts of corruption, suggesting that the roles of audit departments/units and auditors in aiding and abetting corruption in ministries, departments and agencies is crucial.
“I should like to see the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation come up with innovative policies and measures to empower auditors to halt any payment that is clearly in breach of Public Procurement Act, Financial Regulations, Public Service Rules in particular, and other laws, in general.
“For such auditors that compromise, or are complicit, such policies and measures should isolate them for disciplinary action which should not preclude prosecution”, he added.
Also making intervention, Prof. Sagay said that the concern of corruption, included massive unemployment, unequipped clinics and hospitals, wretched schools, colleges and universities without facilities, bad roads, lack of electric power and so on.
According to him, “Deaths on the roads, deaths at hospitals, deaths at maternity facilities, follow and militants, kidnappers, armed robbers, murders, suicides are also a direct product of this Nigerian culture.’’
He suggested that the existing Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) structure be approved as the centre of Nigeria’s intelligence databank for sharing information and intelligence on corruption, as part of efforts to tackle corruption in the country.
On his part, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Hassan, who was represented by the organisation’s Senior Programme Officer, Lukman Adefolahan, said a lot more still needs to be done to strengthen the fight against corruption, promote accountability and transparency, in spite of what he described as “the great strides” that had been made in the fight against graft.
“These different dimensions of corruption have characterised Nigeria’s landscape and by implication made it be consistently rated among the most corrupt countries in the world by Transparency International in its Corruption Perception Index”, she said.