…as agency confiscates young lady’s 60-flat estate
Governing Boards and heads of tertiary health institutions, including heads of parastatals under the Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria have been warned of consequences of indulging in any form of corrupt practices in the course of their duties.
Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, Ekpo Nta, gave the charge in Abuja at a two-day retreat for Chairmen of Boards of Tertiary Institutions, Chief Medical Directors, Medical Directors and heads of parastatals under the ministry.
Cautioning the participants of the menace, Nta said: “The most offence feeling I ever have is when I have to deal with the file determining whether I should charge somebody to court or not. And, I know the consequences. I look at the person’s CV who is being arraigned, Professor of 15 years, several books to his name. And, because he came out to serve his country in a ministry from the academia…and he begins to listen to self-appointed experts. He begins to hear “sir, we don’t return money here, and this is how we do it.
“This year we calculated it, ‘you have N17 million for yourself; the balance of N5 million will take care of all the directors. One million naira can go to cashier because he did the voucher. And you buy that.’ The N5 million he said would be shared to others in truth is actually N55 million and you are actually collecting N17 million. And, you’ve been made to believe.
“At the end of the day, when we put all these things together, we look back and remember your distinguished career going down the drain because you decided to listen to one self-appointed expert in your organisation,” he added.
The ICPC boss further told the participants: “I am very privileged to be speaking to you today, and I hope that by the time I leave here today, the next time we meet, it will be to shake hands at workshops and seminars like this or maybe at the marriage of your children and not for you to be put on the pages of newspapers or television as having been quizzed.”
Speaking on the reason people get corrupt, the ICPC boss said it was difficult to understand, given the nation’s perception of corruption.
According to him, it was difficult for him to believe that the level of corruption in the country was out of greed. “Somebody said I stole money because I am poor. If you are stealing because you are poor, that is the common thought. Then, how come somebody who is already a millionaire is still stealing money? Can we define that? Is it out of societal or family pressures?
For all of you who have been appointed board members and CMDs, by the time you leave that office and go back, and you cannot point to the number of family members you have been able to put in your organisation, then, you have not really served your community. “But, unfortunately, when you‘ll be faced with the rigours of having to answer questions in ICPC or EFCC, those same persons will not be there. And, unfortunately, how do we even get to know that you have recruited your immediate family members? The same family members that go to the mosques or church and say pray for my brother; but for him, I would not have got this job and the news will also come to us and we begin an investigation. If he is eminently qualified, no problem, but people will still write,” he noted.
He listed persons who are susceptible to corruption to include those in the position of authority; persons in charge of procurements, contracts and supplies. “These are persons who have excessive powers attached to their offices and execute it without thinking of the consequences. You must, as board members and CMDs, always have at the back of your mind that you carry immense powers and you must be careful with the way you use executive powers because when you are no longer there, the same people who are busy opening the doors will be the same persons who will supply all the evidence we require to nail you,” Nta counselled.
He called for increased capacity building for holders of sensitive administrative positions to help in checking administrative lapses.
Speaking on what he called costly executive recklessness, Nta urged that they should ensure proper keeping of records in their various institutions to put a check on corruption. Besides, he gave the reasons for administrative lapses thus: “When you come in newly, the first set of people who come to you come to confuse you by telling you stories. If you are serious, tell them to go back and put what they see in memo and send back to you. Being misled on fact and figure; not permitting open forum for discussion and feedback; absolute dependence and reliance on a particular officer or officers; not defining ethics, values and standards of your organisation; failure or inadvertent to have internal control checks and balances; failure to recognise and reward exemplary behaviour and hard work; failure to direct and ensure enforcement of discipline.”
He, however, disclosed that the last property the ICPC confiscated was a 60-flat estate belonging to a lady, stressing that the agency was not convinced of the source of money used to build the estate.