BY VICTOR BUORO, ABUJA – President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday vowed to ensure that no government financial transaction is done in secret, stressing that all transactions would be subjected to public scrutiny.
He further said that with the various reform agenda implemented by his administration, all government financial transactions will be done in the open.
The President, who gave the assurance in Kaduna at the Passing-Out Parade of Detective Inspector Course Five, of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), said that his resolve is to ensure that the reforms are deepened such that there will be no hiding place for corrupt persons and proceeds of corruption.
He said; “The objective of this administration is to institute a level of transparency in governance through mainly information technology platforms. Just as advanced democracies and some developing countries, I am determined that within a short period, citizens would be able to follow core government operations online.
“Our government has reached advanced stage in Fiscal Transparency. The Appropriation Bill is placed online within hours of its presentation in the National Assembly. The Budget Office of the Federation has been engaging interest groups in the budget cycle. A pilot scheme of 10 MDAs has been test running online display of their budgets and expenditure movements.”
Noting that the Federal Government’s “commitment to online disclosure of beneficial owners of Companies generally within the framework of the Corporate Affairs Commission and in the extractive industries through Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) is on course.”
The President added: “I am aware that the portals are ready but owners of companies are unwilling to comply with all disclosure requirements. May I use this opportunity to urge all well-meaning Nigerians to fully comply.”
Buhari said that various national reforms and collaborative efforts with international organisations are designed to institutionally strengthen Anti-Corruption agencies in Nigeria.
In his words; “We have been working within the frameworks of National Action Plan for Open Government Partnership (OGP), National Anti-Corruption Strategy which is an adaptation of United Nations Convention Against Corruption and the Global Forum for Asset Recovery (GFAR). Several of the reforms have been effective for several years with great impact on revenue and expenditure management.
“These include; the Government Integrated, Financial and Management Information System (GIFMIS), Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), Single Treasury Account, and Bank Verification Number (BVN).
“Executive Orders, such as Preservation of Suspicious Assets Connected with Corruption (Executive Order 6), Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) Act 2018; and Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 2018 have been operating for a few years and effectively limiting system opportunities for corrupt practices.”
The President further said; “This administration, right from the inception, aligned with the Open Governance Partnership and Global Forum for Asset Recovery in addition to existing commitments to African Union and Economic Community of West African States’ Conventions Against Corruption, and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). These frameworks focus significantly on systems reforms in order to prevent corruption. Nigeria’s active participation in these global anti-corruption platforms means that the country is subjecting itself to periodic review of its progress in implementing the articles of conventions thus the fight against corruption.”
President Buhari said the administration’s war against corruption is also attracting international endorsements. “Our fight against corruption is being recognized by the international community as real and effective. The face of the country abroad is also changing as the international community is beginning to see Nigeria making substantial progress in the enthronement of transparency, accountability and good governance,” he noted.
“The President of the 7th Session of United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) had this to say when announcing Nigeria as Vice-Chairman of Conference of State Parties: ‘It is an election well deserved. Nigeria has demonstrated remarkable determination in the fight against corruption.’ Nigeria retained the position of Vice Chair of the 8th Session. During the 10th Session of the Conference of State Parties, the Implementation Review Group Report also noted the high number of Asset Recovery cases successfully initiated by Nigeria in cooperation with other countries under the Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) framework,” the President declared.
President Buhari also praised efforts of the EFCC in making the war against corruption effective: “I have listened attentively to the report in the speech presented by the Chairman of EFCC. The report is an attestation that the right policies have been put in place to fight corruption and the fight is becoming much more effective. I make bold to say that Nigeria is winning the war against corruption. I congratulate the EFCC on its good work and I urge that the current level of success be sustained and accelerated,” he said.
In his remarks, the EFCC acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu said that “EFCC on its part is currently developing its Statement of Strategy for 2020 to 2025, in line with the five pillars of National Anti-Corruption Strategy. This was preceded by an earlier strategic plan which was successfully implemented.”
Magu said that the EFCC, with the support of development partners has built one of the best investigative laboratories in West Africa which has aided investigators and prosecutors in achieving accuracy and deployment of incontrovertible evidence in courts. He also identified communication as key to the overall success of the organisation’s activities.