- Accuses labour ministry, UCH of illegal recruitment of staff
Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, has disclosed that the Agency has uncovered 257 duplicated projects worth N20.138 billion in the 2021 budget currently being implemented.
He also accused the Federal Ministry of Labour and the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan and other parastatals of engaging in illegal recruitment of workers.
The ICPC boss, who spoke Tuesday at the 3rd National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in Public Sector, held at the State House Conference Hall in Abuja, said the Commission’s review of the 2021 budget resulted in the discovery of 257 projects amounting to N20.138 billion being duplicated in the budget “leading us to submit an advisory to the Minister of Finance which was promptly actioned by the Minister to prevent abuse”.
He further stated that ICPC’s projects tracking covered 1,083 projects across the entire country with the exception of Borno and Zamfara States due to security challenges.
According to him, “The exercise verified implementation of executive and zip projects of legislators. We have so far initiated enforcement actions against 67 contractors and forced them back to site and ensured completion of 966 projects worth N310 billion some of which were hitherto abandoned.
“Our findings indicate that the same malady of corruption afflicts executive as well as zip projects thus undermining government projections, escalating the cost of governance and denying Nigeria value for money. These maladies include poor needs assessment that disconnects projects from beneficiaries; false certification of uncompleted contracts as completed; deliberate under performance of contracts; incessant criminal diversion and conversion of public property by civil servants, to name just a few.”
Owasanoye listed the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment and UCH, Ibadan, among government establishments implicated in cases of illegal recruitment being investigated by the ICPC.
Speaking on the theme of the summit: ‘Corruption and Cost of Governance: New Imperatives for Fiscal Transparency’, the ICPC chairman disclosed that the cost of governance in the country has perpetually been pushed up by corrupt practices, including illegal recruitments, unilateral and illegal increase of salaries and wages, procurement malpractices and budget padding by some government establishments.
According to him, the commission also uncovered a syndicate of corrupt individuals within the service, corruptly employing unsuspecting Nigerians, issue them fake letters of employment, fraudulently enroll them on IPPIS and post them to equally unsuspecting MDAs to commence work.
He said ICPC was already prosecuting one of the leaders of the syndicate from whose custody led to the retrieval of several fake letters of recommendation purportedly signed by the Chief of Staff to the President, ministers, Federal Civil Service Commission and other high-ranking Nigerians.
Owasanoye added that ICPC’s projects tracking covered 1,083 projects across the entire country with exception of Borno and Zamfara due to security challenges.
He said the exercise verified the implementation of executive and zip projects of legislators, adding that so far, action has been initiated against 67 contractors and forced them back to site and ensured completion of 966 projects worth N310 billion some of which were hitherto abandoned.
He said: “ICPC is committed to supporting the programmes and projects of government one of which is restraining the spiraling cost of governance. This is why the theme of this Summit is Corruption and the Cost of Governance: New Imperatives for Fiscal Transparency.
“Your Excellency has publicly acknowledged a number of times that your government inherited a number of challenges since 2015 when you assumed office including but not limited to an empty purse and the lack of savings when the economy boomed. A major aspect was the astronomical cost of governance at the federal and sub national levels. This has continued to reflect in the huge wage bill on personnel and operational cost standing at about 70% of annual budget.
“Your Excellency sir, a major push factor on high cost of governance and rising personnel budget is illegal recruitment, illegal and unilateral increase in wages and remuneration by some MDAs, indiscriminate local and international travels, unreasonable demands by some political appointee board members of MDAs without regard for extant circulars on cost management; procurement fraud, budget padding, etc.
“ICPC investigation of some cases of illegal recruitment forwarded to us by Head of the Civil Service of the Federation has so far implicated Ministry of Labour and the University College Hospital, Ibadan and a number of corrupt staff of other MDAs at a lower level. This abuse of power is consummated with complicity of compromised elements in IPPIS. These cases are currently under investigation.
“At another level, a syndicate of corrupt individuals within the service corruptly employ unsuspecting Nigerians, issue them fake letters of employment, fraudulently enroll them on IPPIS and post them to equally unsuspecting MDAs to commence work. ICPC is prosecuting one of the leaders of the syndicate from whose custody we retrieved several fake letters of recommendation purportedly signed by Chief of Staff to the President, Hon Ministers, Federal Civil Service Commission and other high ranking Nigerians.”
Owasanoye further revealed that the harmonies between boards and managements of some establishments had been disrupted because of disagreements bordering on abuse of power and other malpractices.
“Your Excellency, a number of MDAs have mini civil wars going on between the Board and management and sometimes within the board. These squabbles revolve around abuse of power prohibited by ICPC Act and unreasonable demands by some Board members for privileges contrary to extant circulars and laws and government’s resolve to minimize cost of governance.
“Your Excellency sir, let me commend government’s posture against illicit financial flows that drain resources from the nation. The time to further block leakages is now that government revenues are dwindling and practically threatened.
“ICPC is contributing to government’s efforts by its IFF focused project that has resulted in a major advisory to government with recommendations including prohibiting confidentiality clauses that facilitate fraud and money laundering, prevention of tax evasion, prohibition of illegal tax waivers and all practices that undermine government revenue projections,” he said.
Reeling out facts and figures of the Commission’s Ethics Compliance Scorecard of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Owasanoye said only 34.6% of the 360 establishments scored above the average mark.
“ICPC’s Ethics Compliance Scorecard of MDAs report for 2021 shows that only 34.6% of the 360 MDAs assessed scored above average in Management Culture and Structure. This poor finding is not unrelated to unstable Boards unable to effectively oversight the institutions,” he said.