By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari has sworn-in the Chairman and Members of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission Board, and expressed his administration’s determination to ensure that every agency of government account for public revenue generated or expended.
Speaking at the event on Monday at the State House, Abuja, the president noted that despite his administration anti-corruption drive, some agencies of government were of the habit of diverting or refusing to fully account for revenue generated.
According to him, rather than obey constitutional provisions and extant rules and regulations, such agencies continue as if nothing has changed.
The president, therefore, called for ICPC’s support both for enforcement of anti-corruption laws and submission of policy measures and directives to prevent revenue leakage and diversion.
“We are determined to ensure that every agency of government account 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,’’ he added.
President Buhari said he looked forward to receiving anti-corruption recommendations linked to e-Government standards and principles, saying “as the old saying goes – “Prevention is better than cure”.
He also challenged the commission 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’’.
The president noted that the ICPC laws had empowered the commission to make proposals to assist government in the fight against corruption.
President Buhari, who lauded the commission’s initiative on Corruption Risk Assessment training for anti-corruption agencies in Africa, expressed the hope that ICPC would 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 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) highly prone to corruption and what must be done to bring about better governance,’’ he said.
He expressed delight over the setting up Anti-Corruption Transparency Unit (ACTU) in Ministries, Departments and Agencies and called on the ICPC to make effective use of the ACTU.
“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 realize its objectives of a cleaner public service.
“This is an important step towards corruption prevention and ensuring full compliance with government’s anti-corruption measures and our laws,” he said.
The president, who maintained that his resolve to fight corruption remains unshaken, assured the commission of full support in the fight against corruption across the country.
He said: “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 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 president also used the opportunity to outline various forms of corrupt practices in the country.
According to him, 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,” he further explained.
He, therefore, expressed delight that the ICPC law was robust enough to assist government to sanitize the public sector of corruption in service delivery, public procurement, diversion of public revenue and deliberate misuse of public funds.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, thanked the president for giving them the opportunity to serve the nation, and pledged not to disappoint him or the country.
He said: “We are lucky to be given this assignment under your leadership. Your unquestionable, unequivocal and unshakable resolve to deal with corruption is very well known.
“Therefore, the political will required to fight corruption is available.”
Members of the ICPC board, who were sworn-in included Dr Grace Chinda, Okolo Titus, Obiora Igwedebia and Mrs Olubukola Balogun.
Others were Justice Adamu Bello, Hannatu Muhammed, Abdullahi Saidu and Yahaya Dauda.