A valedictory session was held on November, 2015, for four out-going Board Members of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), whose tenure ended on 28th November, 2015.
The Board Members were: Dame Julie Onum-Nwariaku, who represented the South-east Zone; Alhaji Isa Ozi Salami, North-central; Professor Oluremi Aina, South-west; and Alhaji Abdullahi Ado Bayero, North-west.
Speaking with nostalgia at the session, the ICPC Chairman, Mr. Ekpo Nta recalled that “… the journey of the out-going Board Members started four years ago, precisely on 29th November, 2011.”
According to Nta, he was sworn in as the Acting Chairman of ICPC on the same day with them by former President Goodluck E. Jonathan after they had been screened by the National Assembly.
He said the action of former President Jonathan was in pursuance of the protocol signed by Nigeria under the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) to ensure that the independence of government institutions established to fight corruption was preserved without executive interference, given the fact that corruption was a global phenomenon.
He averred that, the existence of anti-graft institutions would not only reduce corruption but also promote good governance in the society.
Speaking on the accomplishments of the Board, Mr. Nta said that it assumed duty in 2011 and immediately set up a committee to draw up a Strategic Action Plan for the smooth running of the Commission. The Committee, chaired by Professor Olu Aina, drew up a document which compared very well with the ICPC Strategic Action Plan 2013 – 2017, later developed by the British government’s Department for International Development (DFID) for the Commission through its Justice For All Programme (J4A).
Some of the achievements of the Board were listed by the Chairman to include collaborations with several government establishments. Such collaborations were with the National Universities Commission (NUC) and Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND).
According to the Chairman, the collaboration with NUC led to the conduct of a system study and review of a number of universities in Nigeria, which led to the closure of 63 illegal degree-awarding institutions and the prosecution of 5 proprietors of these institutions. As a follow-up to the study, the collaboration with TETFUND led to a national conference to proffer solutions to issues bedevilling tertiary education funding in Nigeria.
ICPC also collaborated with the Federal Inland Revenue Service to overhaul the tax system and checkmate tax evasions.
Mr. Nta added that during the tenure of the Board Members, the Anti-Corruption Academy of Nigeria (ACAN) started to run smoothly and more land was given to the Academy through the interface of Hon. Ozi Salami with the Nasarawa State Government. The state government decided to extend the Academy’s land in appreciation of ICPC’s assistance in getting contractors to repay tax owed to it.
Mr. Nta further said that before the end of the tenure of the Members, ICPC had gained the respect of foreign embassies in Nigeria because the Commission was able to sanitise visa acquisition processes. The Commission was also involved in sanitising the pension scheme which led to the recovery of billions of Naira for the country and the eradication of ghost pensioners.
Capacity-building for staff of ICPC was also stepped up during the period as more staff members were sent on both local and international training compared with what had obtained in the past in the Commission. The Board also did not fail to sanction erring staff to promote discipline in the Commission, he added.
Adding to what the Chairman had said about the successes recorded by the Board, the Secretary to the Commission, Elvis Oglafa said the Members were appointed by President Jonathan to make their contribution to the anti-corruption campaign which they did commendably.
In his breakdown of how each Member successfully carried out the task given to them while in ICPC, Mr. Oglafa said Dame Julie Onum-Nwariaku was the overseer of the Commission’s programmes that involved Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), and by so doing, contributed to the smooth administration of ICPC.
Professor Aina’s purview was the Education sector through which his wealth of experience as a university lecturer was utilised. Within the period he served as board member, the Commission was able to conduct University System Study and Review, assisted in the smooth running of ACAN and organised conferences in the sector.
Alhaji Ozi Salami was in charge of media matters given his past record as a member on the Board of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) while Alhaji Ado Bayero was in charge of youths and sports development in the Commission.
In her vote of thanks, Dame Onum-Nwariaku noted that the cooperation given to them by members of staff made their tenure successful. She urged staff of the Commission to always be proud of ICPC and ensure that they protect the image of the Commission through their conduct.