PACAC: Civil Service Reforms Crucial to Combating Corruption

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•Seeks special crimes court

By Emmanuel Addeh

The Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), yesterday advocated an urgent reform of the federal civil service to guarantee the success of the current anti-corruption campaign.

PACAC said the civil service, being the professionals saddled with the implementation of the government’s plans and programmes must be purged since every government decision would be executed by them.

Speaking during a virtual Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and media dialogue, Executive Secretary of PACAC, Prof. Sadiq Radda, stated that it was, in reality, easier to deal with lawmakers and the judiciary than dealing with bureaucrats.

The meeting was called to review the fight against corruption and to discuss the way forward to achieving a sustainable war against the menace.
Describing the Nigerian civil service as parasitic and corrupt, Radda added that the government must take drastic and revolutionary decisions for civil servants to occupy their rightful place in the fight against corruption.

“Findings have shown that if you want to tackle corruption, that something drastic, something serious, something revolutionary and aggressive should be done to our ministries, departments and agencies.

“It’s even easier to work with the National Assembly and the judiciary but you have the civil service, ministries and departments that will implement these policies and programmes. But if they are simply not serious, they are corrupt and are not straightforward, then there’s a problem,” Radda said.

According to him, the reform of the civil service is one of the most important things to be done so that Nigeria can have workers that deliver.
While urging CSOs and the media to continue to put pressure on the system “so that this over-bloated civil service, this parasitic civil service can be made functional within the country,” Radda explained that civil servants remain a sour point in President Muhammadu Buhari’s fight against sleaze.

He also said without an efficient judiciary, Nigeria could not make progress, adding that PACAC has come to the realisation that the judiciary remains one of the shortcomings in the country’s fight against corruption.

He also listed funding as a major problem hindering the anti-corruption agencies, stating that they do not have enough money to do their jobs, leading to challenges of quality staffing.

He urged the government to consider the fight against corruption as a source of revenue the same way oil gives Nigeria revenue.
“Fighting corruption is a source of revenue because if you fight corruption by blocking all avenues of leakages, you have saved revenue. So, without funding, the anti-corruption agencies are not likely to perform their jobs the way they should,” he stated.
According to him, although a lot is being done at the federal level to fight corruption, nothing much is being done at the state level and local governments.

He said since the federal government had kept anti-corruption as an agenda, if state governments and local governments could do a similar thing, Nigeria would be better off.

“The effort is at the national level. Nothing much is being done at the state and local government levels and they control close to 50 per cent of monthly allocation that we share in Nigeria,” he said.

Radda also called for the establishment of special crimes courts to unburden the regular courts.
He said if created, the special courts could handle issues like farmers/herders crisis, insurgency, militancy and other conflicts, to prevent judges from being distracted.

While calling for a review of the high cost of governance, he urged the National Assembly to come out with modalities on how to cut cost.
In his remarks, Executive Chairman, Centre for Anti-corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL), Debo Adeniran, identified one of the problems hindering the fight against sleaze as the opacity in government operations.

He urged PACAC to advise the government to have a technical body to analyse projects that are funded to check whether they meet specifications or not
Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Centre (CISLAC), Mr. Auwal Rafsanjani, said Nigerians should be worried about the state of the country.

He called for synergy among the corruption-fighting agencies, saying that all the arms of government must be ready to work together to block leakages.