President Muhammadu Buhari has admitted that despite his administration’s anti-corruption effort some government agencies are still diverting funds or refusing to fully account for them.
He said this while swearing in the Chairman and members of the Board of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) at the presidential villa, Abuja on Monday.
Buhari, therefore, urged the commission to collaborate with the relevant government agencies toward mitigating the infractions on public expenditure.
The president said: “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 accounts 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.
While congratulating the new Board members for being found worthy to serve the country on the assignment, President Buhari stressed the importance of the war against corruption.
He added: “Your appointment is a call to service in an important sector and segment critical in our government’s agenda.
“Today’s occasion is the continuation of this Administration’s fight against corruption. It is a cardinal programme in the three point agenda that I promised to pursue and will continue to pursue as I seek the mandate of Nigerians for a second term.
“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 the 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.
“I am particularly delighted that the ICPC law under which you will operate is robust enough to assist government to sanitise the public sector of corruption in service delivery, public procurement, diversion of public revenue, deliberate misuse of public funds, and so on.”
Using the saying, Buhari stressed the “Prevention is better than cure,” the President reminded the Board that its statutory mandate recognises this principle.
He added: “Therefore, I encourage you to come up with strong preventive policy measures and strategies for government’s endorsement to take us to the Next Level in the fight against corruption. I am aware that the ICPC laws empower you to make proposals to assist the government in this fight.
“Just about a month ago, I opened your Corruption Risk Assessment training for anti-corruption agencies in Africa. That initiative, in support of my role as the AU anti-corruption champion, is welcome, and I Iook forward to seeing ICPC distinguish itself as a leading institution in Africa in building capacity to conduct and implement corruption risk assessments.
“But charity must begin at home. Therefore, your skills and expertise must be demonstrated in identifying MDAs highly prone to corruption and what must be done to bring about better governance.
“I am also aware that you have set up Anti-Corruption Transparency Unit in Ministries, Departments and Agencies. This is an important step towards corruption prevention and ensuring full compliance with the government’s anti-corruption measures and our laws.
“I encourage you to make effective use of our ACTU in MDAs by receiving reports directly from such Units and taking enforcement measures to assist government to realise its objectives of a cleaner public service.”
In his acceptance speech, the Chairman of the ICPC Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, noted that they are lucky to be given this assignment “because under your leadership, you are unquestionable, unequivocal and unshakable resolve to deal with corruption is very well known. Therefore, the political will required to fight corruption is available.”
He pledged that the board of the commission will do their best not to disappoint the president and the country.
Other members of the board are: Dr Grace Chinda, Okolo Titus, Obiora Igwedebia, Mrs Olubukola Balogun, Justice Adams Bello, Hannatu Muhammed, Abdullahi Saidu, and Yahaya Dauda.