Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) yesterday stressed the need for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in Nigeria to address issues that lead to pervasive corruption and its effects on the Nigerian economy.
This was made known when the IMF team, led by Mr. Alin Shane, paid a consultation visit to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) at its headquarters in Abuja.
Shane said the aim of the visit was to engage select government institutions on developments as they relate to such agencies and the country as a whole.
He said the focus on ICPC was on its role, mandate, cases and convictions, status of Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs), civil service reforms as regards ghost workers, job descriptions as well as electronic salary payments.
The team sought to know efforts made by the commission to change the negative perception of corruption in Nigeria as well as strategies adopted to tackle corruption and the successes of such strategies.
The team also expressed their expectation that the consultation would address how the commission tackled the demand and supply sides of corruption, procurement fraud and the handling of recovered assets.
In his response the Chairman of ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, stated that corruption was the bedrock of the nation’s underdevelopment, negative perception and economic issues, and that surveys and reports conducted in the past had been on retail corruption.
He asserted that the commission was beaming its searchlight on grand corruption which had a major effect on the public sector, adding that through system review, triggers that lead to corruption were found and were significantly mitigated, which led to fishing out ghost workers and yielding significant returns for government.
Speaking on IFFs, he informed the team that the commission was the secretariat for the inter-agency task team on stopping IFFs, focusing on the oil and gas investment environment as well as the trade and tax sectors to curb transfer pricing, trade mis-invoiving amongst others.
He added that capacity building had been conducted to enable officials know what to look for in order to tackle issues that aid IFFs.
The ICPC boss also revealed that with the commission’s mandate of public enlightenment and citizen engagement, it had, through the National Ethics and Integrity Policy (NEIP), been able to mobilise citizens and gain their commitment in the fight against corruption.
He further stated that the commission was presently carrying out a project on behavioural change which was aimed at discouraging members of the public from tolerating and engaging in corruption and corrupt practices.
Speaking on another initiative by the commission which focused on the value-for-money component, with a focal point on the budget system by tracking how money was spent, the Chairman explained the mileage ICPC was achieving through the Constituency and Executive Projects Tracking Initiative (CEPTI), which is on its 5th phase.
Speaking on proceeds of crime and asset management, Owasanoye said the commission was empowered by law to seize, manage and dispose assets.