President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday, reiterated his commitment to tame corruption, revealing that looters of the nation’s resources explore ways to compromise law enforcing institutions in a bid to pervert the course of justice.
He insisted that while they perfect their game, his administration will continue to tighten the noose by implementing policies aimed at building resilient systems that can withstand assault by corrupt officials.
The President gave these indications while flagging-off Corruption Risk Assessment Training for heads and senior officials of Anti-Corruption Agencies in the African Union as well as presentation of report on the Corruption Risk Assessment of Nigeria’s e-government systems, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He told participants drawn from 22 African countries that the fight against corruption “is a battle for the souls of our different countries and it is one that we must win”.
According to Buhari, the continent has suffered severe consequences from corruption and that it was imperative that member nations take appropriate steps to reverse the trend.
Buhari recalled that on assumption of office in May 2015, “the pervasive nature and devastating impact of corruption on the Nigerian nation had become dysfunctional, adding that the momentum for our electoral victory could not be separated from the revolt of the people against glaring endemic corruption.
His words,“During the past several months, we have been taking steps to institute integrity and transparency in the processes of government and holding those who have plundered our commonwealth to account for their actions.
“However, the costs of recovery and sanctions are also enormous. While commendable successes have been recorded, it has become manifest that corruption fights back. With enormous stolen resources elements have attempted to compromise law enforcing institutions and pervert the course of justice.
“This realization highlights the necessity of building a system that focuses on preventing corruption. We continue to implement policies aimed at building resilient systems that can withstand assault by corrupt officials.”
He also listed steps his administration took to build resilient systems that can withstand looters antics to include: “the full implementation of both Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the Bank Verification Number (BVN), the Open Government Partnership, various Executive Orders, strengthening the Anti-Corruption Agencies and permitting their full autonomy.
“It is in this context of building robust preventive systems that we must understand this initiative which aims to train leaders of anti-corruption agencies in the African Union by deploying Corruption Risk Assessment Methodology for corruption prevention in our countries.
“Corruption Risk Assessment seeks to identify corruption-prone processes and procedures in organisations and recommend appropriate remedial steps. The methodology places a premium on prevention as an effective complement to enforcement in the war against corruption,”he stated.
The Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Usman Abubakar who facilitated the programme, said the best means of checking graft was to block all loopholes and leakages in the system.
He said when people are denied access to public funds they will be left with less opportunity to misappropriate it.
“This is against pursuing individuals after the deed is done, an action that drains a lot of resources admits challenges that create uncertainty of the outcomes. To this end, ICPC stands on the principle that an ounce of prevention is worth more than any remedy.
“We have gathered the anti-corruption agencies in Africa in order to impart this special skill to cascade it down to AU states as part of Nigeria’s contribution in minimizing corruption on the continent.”
Abubakar said the report presented reveals that the deployment of TSA, IPPIS and GIFMIS has significantly reduced bureaucratic corruption in Nigeria.
“This is attributable to factors such as reduction in human interface; elimination of direct access to cash resources; easy tracing of transactions; oversight of the payroll by the responsible agencies etc. The payment systems are however not foolproof as our findings reveal that there is need for us to maintain a vigilant watch over their operations.
“We therefore request Mr President to mandate the stakeholders to note the in-depth work conducted on these systems and implement the remedial measures proffered in the report.”