Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has called for more collaboration among government agencies and interest groups in the fight against corruption.
He gave the charge at an anti-corruption summit organised by the Office of the Vice President and the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) in Abuja.
The Vice President said that a new national orientation and attitude would be required for corruption to be effectively tackled in the country.
According to him, “Our struggle against corruption is one for the soul and substance of our nation.
“The battle must be a collective one, corruption fights back with venom, guile and force, it is relentless and unashamed we who fight it must meet it with greater resolve and force.
“We can only win by working together with a common vision.”
Osinbajo indicated that corruption has been Nigeria’s most devastating problem and has continued to hinder the country’s development.
He referred to a recent PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ study, which concluded that Nigeria’s 2030 GDP could be up to $534 billion or more if it reduces corruption, pointing out that the country’s high revenue could not translate to development if corruption is not checked.
“It doesn’t matter how much revenue a country makes or how transformative its plans are corruption will ensure that the majority of the people do not benefit from it or simply truncate the plan.
“Which is why despite the highest oil revenues in our history debt doubled and poverty figures rose.
“It is for these reasons that President Muhammadu Buhari famously warned that if we don’t kill Corruption Corruption will kill us, which is why a major pillar of our government’s socio economic agenda is the fight against corruption.”
Osinbajo added that it was for this reason that one of the first bodies to be set up in 2015 by the President Buhari was the PACAC.
According to Osinbajo, even though the Buhari administration has done much since 2015 in the fight against corruption, there is still a long way to go to stem it.
The Vice President said the policy of the administration has been to tackle what he has frequently described as ‘Gand Corruption’, using various strategies.
“The enforcement of TSA, the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit, and even ensuring that most civil servants are on the IPPIS electronic platform have helped greatly to control official theft of public funds,” he said.
“The judiciary also moved the needle in recent times. The Supreme Court in a lead judgment of Akaahs JSC, recently held that forfeiture under Section 17 of the Advanced Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act is a civil matter which neither requires the criminal conviction of the property owner nor his innocence.
“This opens the door for forfeiture of assets that the purported owner cannot explain, whether or not an allegation of corruption is made.”
Osinbajo said the Buhari administration was now poised to deal with the wider problem of systemic corruption, which, according to him, affects “our people the most.”
According to him, this type of corruption occurs especially where the average person interacts with government, including corruption in the issuance of contracts, licenses and other government approvals.
“There is no reason why any Nigerian should have to pay bribes to law enforcement agents for obtaining drivers licenses or passports, or to clear goods at our ports.
“All of the relevant government agencies have shown a serious commitment to eradicating these forms of corruption.
“Our next level is to create the environment for collaboration between our agencies, civil society and other stake holders.”
In his address of welcome, the Chairman of PACAC, Prof. Itse Sagay, said the anti-corruption information and intelligence roundtable organised by committee on June 1, 2016, recommended short-term and long-term approaches for the successful collaboration among anti-corruption agencies.
According to him, the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) structure would be adopted for the sharing of information and intelligence on corruption in the short-term.
He said the long-term measure would require the National Assembly passing an intelligence reform bill into law.
“This law will provide for an Inter-Agency Coordinating Group (IACG) platform for the sharing of corruption, terrorism and other serious crimes intelligence in a manner consistent with protecting Nigeria’s national security.
“In addition, the IACG platform will also establish an intelligence community driven nation criminal data base that will serve as a platform for information and intelligence sharing.”
He said the conference would be used to reaffirm the determination of the anti-corruption and security agencies to work together to clear impediments to the fight against corruption.