From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday decried the level of corruption in the education system, stating that it was undermining investment in the university system.
Buhari spoke at the Fourth National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector Organisation by the Independent Corrupt Practices Coming (ICPC) in collaboration with the Office of the Secretary of the Government of the Federal (OSGF) and the Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB).
Speaking at the event with the theme: Corruption and the Education Sector, the president said: “This year’s summit will mirror how corruption undermines educational policies, investments and creates an unfriendly learning environment for our youths.
“Incessant strikes especially by unions in the tertiary education often imply that government is grossly underfunding education, but I must say that corruption in the education system from basic level to the tertiary level has been undermining our investment in the sector and those who go on prolonged strikes on flimsy reasons are no less complicit.”
Buhari noted that due to declining resources, government cannot bear the cost of funding education alone.
“I task our academics to attract endowments, research and other grants to universities, polytechnics and colleges of education similar to what obtains in other countries,” he said.
According to him, government and stakeholders in the educational sector are concerned about the manifestation of various forms of corruption in the education sector.
“I am aware that students in our universities, for example, use different terminologies to describe different forms of corruption they experience on our campuses.
“There is sorting or cash for marks/grades, sex for marks, sex for grade alterations, examination malpractice, and so on.
“Sexual harassment has assumed an alarming proportion. Other forms of corruption include pay-roll padding or ghost workers, lecturers taking up full-time appointments in more than one academic institution, including private institutions, lecturers writing seminar papers, projects and dissertations for students for a fee, and admission racketeering, to mention only the most glaring corrupt practices.
“I am happy to note that ICPC is investigating and prosecuting sexual harassment as an abuse of power in our educational institutions. I approve and encourage them to continue to do so.
He said government will continue to fund education within realistically available revenue and charged stakeholders, including the media to equally advocate for transparency in the amount generated as internally generated revenue by educational institutions and how such funds are expended.
Also speaking, Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, said corruption was eroding the practical purpose of education at all levels in the Nation, while education ironically plays an enabling role for corruption.
“Corruption has become endemic in the education sector as students, teachers and lecturers have become permeable to corruption. The purpose of education cannot be achieved without anti-corruption,” he said.
He added that corruption required a collective effort and that all citizens must join hands to fight the monster.
Earlier in his remarks, the ICPC Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanye said the commission had constituted a special team for investigation and prosecution of sexual harassment in secondary and tertiary institutions.
Owasanye said as part of the efforts to sanitise the public service and upscale integrity the Commission has been collaborating with the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) to flush out fake appointments and screen candidates for appointment to positions of permanent secretaries amongst other initiatives.
He added that the ICPC had intensified its scrutiny of personnel and capital cost of MDAs leading to the proactive restraining of surpluses or duplications in the budget.
“The findings thus far indicate that many prospective appointees are implicated for financial impropriety, corrupt practice, failure of code of conduct standards and substance abuse. The commitment of the Head of Service to clean up the stable by effective pre-appointment screening is commendable and ICPC will continue to play its part. “We are vigorously exploiting technology solutions to some of the systemic corruption we have unearthed.
“In collaboration with civil society, we are in the process of introducing a model policy on sexual harassment for academic institutions to adopt we have also secured some major convictions including of a professor.
“ICPC has escalated its prevention mandate in the face of costly, time-consuming and unpredictable outcomes of investigation and prosecution. In this regard we are strengthening the Anti-corruption and Transparency Monitoring Unit (ACTU) in MDAs,” he noted.