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You are warmly welcome to the commemoration of this year’s International Anti-Corruption Day.
Globally, 9th of December was declared International Anti-Corruption Day to raise more awareness on corruption issues and how to tackle them. It is a day earmarked to promote collective action against corruption internationally.
Although the negative impact of corruption could be felt globally, hence the call for action against the pandemic, however, the most affected are the vulnerable poor and marginalised individuals in the society. This is because the negative impact of corruption on socio-economic development serves as a contributing factor that allows bad governance to thrive in the society and thus deny citizens the benefits of democracy.
The theme for this year’s global Anti-Corruption Day is “Uniting the World Against Corruption for Development, Peace and Security”, because corruption is intertwined with conflict and instability, jeopardises social and economic development and undermines democractic institutions and the rule of law.
Given that the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission is the foremost anti-graft agency in Nigeria, ICPC Osun State Office decided to kick off the commemoration of this year’s International Anti-corruption Day with our friends from the media, because as society’s watch dog, you draw attention of relevant authorities to issues that affect the citizenry so that necessary actions could be taken to reverse the negative situation.
Consequently, ICPC regard you as partners in progress in the crusade against corruption in relation to media support and reportage to expose the extent of damage corruption has cost the society and the efforts being made to reverse the situation.
Since establishment, ICPC has vigorously pursued the implementation of its mandate on all fronts, particularly the eradication of corruption in Nigeria by instituting different initiatives aimed at preventing corruption and fostering public support for the campaign. Some of the initiatives of ICPC include launching of Student Anti-Corruption Clubs (SAC) in primary and secondary schools nationwide; Student Anti-corruption Vanguards in tertiary institutions; Anti-Corruption CDS Group for Youth Corp members; establishing of Anti-Corruption Transparency Units (ACTUs) in over 404 government establishments; National Anti-Corruption Coalition, a platform for Civil Society Based Organisations.
Additionally, ICPC sensitises the public through anti-corruption seminars and conferences, town hall meetings, news publications both in the print and online media and its television programme “Corruption Must Go” aired on National Television Authority (NTA) every Wednesday by 3.30 pm.
The Commission also embarked on System Study and Review in different Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) to checkmate corrupt practices and encourage culture of integrity in government business which has resulted in Ethics and Integrity Compliance Scorecard administration yearly to know the level of compliance to integrity rules and for improvement in the MDAs while recommendations from Corruption Risk Assessment carried out in different sectors of the nation has led to reforms like e-passport, streamlining of pension scheme as well as health insurance.
The Commission is also in the forefront of curbing Illicit Financial Flow and creating more awareness on the menace in order to improve the country’s economy.
In recognition of ICPC’s willingness to regularly avail the public with information on its activities with a website designed to achieve that purpose, the Commission was given an award for the best website among MDAs in Nigeria.
To further promote good governance and accountability from lawmakers and executives alike, ICPC initiated Constituency and Executive Project Tracking in 2019, leading to the recovery of government funds and property, identification of fictitious contracts and projects and ensuring better budget and qualitative project implementation. The project tracking exercise was carried out nationwide and the Commission is now in the 6th phase of the exercise. I will later like to elaborate more on the Commission’s Budget Analysis and Project Tracking initiatives to highlight some salient facts and underscore their impacts.
In pursuit of its preventive mandate, particularly in the area of promoting positive orientation and behavioural change in the crusade against corruption, ICPC birthed National Ethics and Integrity Policy (NEIP), which was adopted and launched in 2020 by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari.
This initiative has led to continued sensitisation of various stakeholders on the core values of the Policy which include upholding the values of integrity, professionalism, national unity, voice participation and patriotism in order to promote high moral standard in the society. In essence, the ultimate aim of the Commission is to enthrone a Nigeria glowing with integrity, transparency and accountability.
At the state level, a debate competition among selected schools was held for secondary school students in Osun State in commemoration of 2023 Children’s Day and it was an avenue for these children to contribute their quota to the campaign against corruption while a One-Day Workshop was held for leaders of religion in the state.
2023 African Union Anti-corruption Day held on 11th July was also commemorated in style with an awareness walk and seminar at the Federal Polytechnic Ede, followed by a One-Day workshop for members of the National Anti-corruption Coalition in Osun State.
A total number of 85 sensitisation sessions covering television, radio and visitations to MDAs were carried out by ICPC Osun State Office in the out-going year in order to encourage public support and reportage of corrupt practices in the society.
More on ICPC’s Budget Analysis and Tracking of FG-funded Projects.
As part of its fraud prevention activities, the Commission undertakes yearly in-depth analysis and unpacking of the national budget, with a view to identifying budget padding, budget duplications, out of- mandate projects, suspicious provisions and other forms of abuses in budget administration. Analysis of the 2023 National Capital Budget has indeed been revealing. In the 2023 budget, N1.52 trillion worth of projects representing 28.4% of capital allocations across 150 agencies are adjudged suspicious, inserted or out of MDAs’ mandates. A total of 1,202 projects amounting to N353.29 billion representing 6.60% of capital allocation were considered suspicious projects.
The phase 5 of the Commission’s tracking initiative carried out from November 2022, popularly known as Constituency Projects, focused on Zonal Intervention Projects (ZIP). Out of the 703 projects tracked nationally, South-west had 115 projects ( amounting to N30.9bn). Osun State office tracked 28 of the projects worth N851,613,219.48. 5 Contractors, 18 companies were asked to return to sites for projects valued at N403,895,416.39.
In 2023 out of 443 projects tracked nationwide (amounting to N58bn), a total of 95 capital projects amounting to N10.8bn were allocated to South-West. So, in the 6th Phase of the 2023 Executive Constituency Project Tracking held in Ekiti State, over 85 projects worth N8.028 billion were tracked by Osun State office of the Commission.
HIGHLIGHT OF SOME FINDINGS FROM PHASE 5 OF OUR PROJECT TRACKING INITIATIVES
Soft Projects and Empowerment Projects were found to be a major conduit for syphoning public resources and Money Laundering.
Hoarding and Non-Distribution of Empowerment Items:
As a campaign strategy, a larger percentage of empowerment items procured under the 2020 and 2021 Appropriation for instance were found stashed away in warehouse or private properties of the projects sponsors.
Monetary Grant Projects;
Vessels for Syphoning Public Funds: Grants as projects are ordinarily a means of financial empowerment where beneficiaries are given certain amount of money free as seed money for the establishment of, or improvement of existing businesses…they hardly get to the right people but fictitious or re-cycled persons that may not even be traceable; far less amount get paid to them such as N10,000 or N20,000 instead of N100,000.
In one case, a grant project was distributed to only 10 people with each receiving N10m-N15m.
Project Abandonment/Refusal to Execute Contracts:
Though no longer rampant as discovered in previous tracking exercises, some contractors were still found to have collected funds for projects awarded to them but refused to execute and absconded with the money.
Overpayment of Contract Sums:
We found this absurd and unbelievable cases in some projects executed.
Disparity in Project Distribution:
Studies and analysis of national budgets have exposed all glaring lop-sidedness in projects distribution across states.
Some Sponsors Allegedly Collect Money Upfront from would-be Contractors: Intelligence at the disposal of the commission has established that some projects sponsors are in the habit of negotiating and receiving bribes from would-be contractors promising to tweak the system to ensure the award of the contracts to the latter on projects sponsored by the former.
Cost of goods and services for most empowerment projects appeared pegged without regards to prevailing market realities and no recourse to BPP Price Template.
As could be seen, the Tracking teams found that domiciliation of projects in unrelated MDAs undermines project delivery and is prone to corruption.
The Commission also found other abuses such as indiscriminate grant of approval for selective tendering, abuse of grant of certificate of no objection without proper evaluation of request by MDAs, conflict of interests by project sponsors/facilitators and civil servants, corruption-prone empowerment projects,
“regulatory capture’ in agencies with captive funds such as TETFUND, UBEC, NHIS, NHF, NSITF, etc, all which militate against the project delivery and value for money.
While the Commission’s intervention has led to the completion of projects and recovery of diverted funds, a holistic reform of the process has been advised at Executive and Legislative levels.
ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS TAKEN SO FAR ON ABUSES OF TRACKED PROJECTS
Detentions: No fewer than 50 people were detained during the investigations part of the Phase 5 exercise. This number includes legislators, staff of executing agencies, contractors and consultants.
Freezing of Accounts: In conducting the Phase 5 tracking exercise, no fewer than 200 bank accounts were frozen for one reason or the other.
Return to sites: Commission compelled over 88 contractors to return to projects sites to complete uncompleted projects or carry out some remediation works on shoddily executed projects (amounting to N3,540,829,993.00)
Recoveries: Recoveries and confiscations in both cash and stolen assets were made to the tune of N2,081,636,895 (ie N529,699,351:00 and N1,551,937,543:41 respectively)
Distribution of hoarded/stolen assets: The Commission has in appropriate cases forced projects sponsors to distribute empowerment items found hoarded or misappropriated in their custody.
Administrative sanctions in appropriate cases, where the indictment is not begregious.
Indicted staff of executing agencies were refered and cited for administrative disciplinary processes like suspension, de-rankig, dismissal etc.
Prosecution: The Commission has filled charges in court against some people that were indicated by investigations while others have been cited for prosecution. These include legislators, contractors, consultants and staff of the executing agencies.
Deployment of Ethics and Integrity Scorecards in 2023
In addition to its other functions under its establishment Act, ICPC deploys and administers what is known as Ethics and Integrity Compliance Scorecard (EICS) in public institutions in order to nurture ethical values within the MDAs. The scorecard as a preventive tool is to ensure and encourage MDAs’ compliance to government statutes, policies and directives, and to promote integrity, accountability, efficiency and productivity in government business. Ratings and categorisation under EISC are intended to highlight adhering and defaulting institutions for competitiveness and public assessments.
In 2023 under review, a total of 368 FG-MDAs were assessed nationwide. Out of this number, 47 are from the South-west, while 6 are from Osun State. The 6 are among the 219 MDAs rates as Partial compliance. (OAUTHC scored 65.9 and ranked 106th; Fed.Poly Ede scored 62.4 and ranked 149th; Prototypoe engineering Development Institute, Ilesa scored 58.8 and ranked 184th, Nat. Centre for Technology Management scored 54.5 and ranked 224th ; OAU, Ile-Ife scored 53.6 and ranked 230th; while African Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology scored 53.3 to rank 233rd).
Since 2019, our studies, assessments and interactions with MDAs through the scorecard indicate the risks and weaknesses observed in each institution. EICS reports reveal a gradual awakening and consciousness to ethics and compliance requirements and presents means of correcting ethical, statutory and administrative lapses by the MDAs.
The ICPC will not abdicate its responsibility under the law to ensure that systems, practices, and procedures of government agencies are devoid of institutional vectors and pathogens for a clean, effective and productive service-driven public offices and bodies.
While we continuously engage with Ministries, Departments, and Agencies through advocacy, training of public officers in our Anti-corruption Academy of Nigeria on ethics, integrity, compliance, formulation of codes of ethics, etc we intend through these collaborations, to ensure technical and real adherence to the EICS against cosmetic or ‘paper’ compliance observed in a number of public bodies.
Indeed, the Commission realises that the Scorecard is not exhaustive in the campaign against public office corruption afforested by egregious crimes and misconducts.
However, to press the essence of the EICS further, MDAs that consistently appear in the “High Corruption Risk” categorization will be subjected to profiling through System Study and appropriate enforcement actions of the Commission.
In conclusion, as we commemorate today’s International Anti-Corruption Day, I would like to encourage you to continue to give your full support to the campaign against corruption by speaking out and through increased reportage of corruption.
Consequently, we would jointly berth positive attitudinal change and discourage the corrupt in the society.
Thank you and God bless Nigeria.
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