Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday reiterated that he intends to continue to pursue the anti-corruption fight should Nigerians renew his the mandate for a second term.
He made the declaration at the swearing in of nine board members of Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), chaired by Professor Bolaji Owasanoye.
President Buhari, while reminding the members that their appointment is a call to service in an important sector and segment critical in his government’s agenda, said the fight against corruption is a cardinal programme in the three point agenda that he 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.”
Buhari reminded the members of ICPC and government officials present of “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 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 sanitize the public sector of corruption in service delivery, public procurement, diversion of public revenue, deliberate misuse of public funds, and so on.
“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 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.”
The President urged the new ICPC board 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 that he looked “forward to receiving anti-corruption recommendations linked to e-Government standards and principles.
“As the old saying goes, ‘Prevention is better than cure’. Your statutory mandate recognizes this principle. 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 empowers you to make proposals to assist 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 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 realize its objectives of a cleaner public service.
“My resolve to fight corruption remains unshaken. I assure you of my full support in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.”
One of the board members is a 27-year-old lawyer, Hannatu Muhammad (Jigawa). She is representing the youth in line with the requirement of the Act setting up the commission, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina said, while reading her biography.
Other women on the board are Dr. Grace Chinda (Delta), and Mrs. Olubukola Balogun (Lagos).
Other members are Okolo Titus-(Enugu), Obiora Iqwedebia (Anambra), Justice Adamu Bello (Katsina), Abdullahi Maikanu Saidu (Niger) and Yahaya Umah Daudu (Nasarawa).
Owasanoye and eight others were confirmed by the Senate last year October. The president had on July 25, 2018 sent the nomination requested the senate for confirmation.
He is the fourth substantive chairman of the commission since it was established by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration in 1999.
Previous chairmen of the commission are Justice Mustapha Akanbi (2000-2010), Professor Uriah Angulu (Acting Chairman 2010 to March 2011), Dr. Rose Abang-Wushishi (Acting Chairman, March 2011-August 2011), Abdullahi Bako (Acting Chairman, (August 2011-November 2011), and Ekpo Una Owo Nta (November 2011 to January 2018.
In his remarks on behalf of others, Owasanoye said that with President Buhari the political will to fight corruption is not in doubt.
He said: “We 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.
“I pledge on behave of the commission and members that we will do our best not to disappoint you or disappoint the country.”
Owasanoye was the executive secretary of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, PACAC. He was appointed in August 2015 to “promote the reform agenda of the government on the anti-corruption effort, advise the present government on the prosecution of the war against corruption and the implementation of required reforms in Nigeria’s criminal justice system.”