The Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof Bolaji Owasanoye, in accordance with the Commission’s powers under S. 6(b) to direct and supervise Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) instructed agencies of the Federal Government to implement reforms indicated by the Commission.
Prof Owasanoye was speaking during the presentation of the reports of system study exercises conducted on the organisations by the Commission. Leveraging on Section 6 (b,c and d) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000, which mandates it to examine the systems and processes of government establishments for corruption-prone procedures and to direct reforms, the Commission had recently conducted system studies and reviews of Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC); Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS); Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA); Rural Electrification Agency (REA); and National Pensions Commission (NPC).
During the exercise ICPC operatives painstakingly scrutinized the Structure, Systems and Processes, Culture and Stakeholder Perception of the stated agencies, and at the conclusion of which the Commission presented the reports of its findings to the top managements of the organisations during scheduled sessions at its headquarters in Abuja recently.
The reports on the agencies revealed some faults and lapses in their systems and processes among which include: capacity gaps in accounting staff; infractions in the operation of the public procurement policy, Federal Character Principle and Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007. Other flaws had to do with the legislations setting up the agencies, operational environments, personnel recruitment and staffing issues.
The ICPC Chairman drew attention to the mandate of the Commission which combines enforcement, system study and review, and citizen engagement as the necessary three-pronged approach to combating corruption.
He also underscored the imperative of System Study and Review as an effective corruption prevention strategy in the public service, adding that a review exercise on a particular agency could be triggered by an investigation, petition, request from the government, the agency itself or a whistleblower report. He therefore directed that the managements of the organisations implement the quick-fixes prescribed within three months, while the long-term issues, especially statute-related ones, were being addressed.
Prof Owasanoye revealed that the Commission may embark on further system studies of the organisations at the expiration of the deadline to monitor compliance, and that its enforcement powers would be used on officials found to have committed infractions or ignored its directives to diminish corruption.
The reports were favourably received by the managements of the organisations, and they generally indicated their willingness to cooperate with the Commission.
The Comptroller-General of NIS, Muhammed Babandede, commended ICPC for the review exercise, stating that scrutiny by an external body always provided an opportunity for improvement. He gave the service’s commitment to effecting the recommendations of the report while also outlining many reforms introduced in NIS under his administration to stem corruption.
The Acting Director-General of PENCOM, Mrs Aisha Dahiru Umar, expressed her gratitude to ICPC for carrying out the exercise. She said the report would serve as a useful guide for her commission for improved processes, noting that since the system study and review was conducted, many remedial actions had already been taken to correct the defects identified.
In his own response, NEPZA Acting Managing Director, Engr. Terhembe Nongo, noted that the system study was a great opportunity for the agency to prime itself to achieve its mandate. He acknowledged that the findings of the report were “flawless”, and promised to ensure that all its recommendations were adhered to.
On his part, the Executive Director (Technical Services) of REA, Mohammed Wasaram, who represented the Managing Director, Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi, said that the review had afforded his agency the platform to assess itself as they had received a copy of the draft report earlier, and had noted the inadequacies indicated therein.
The representative of the Chairman, FCSC, Bello M. Babura, a Commissioner, promised to provide ICPC with feedback on his commission’s compliance, noting that its Board was new in the saddle but was committed to working with ICPC to reduce corruption in order to improve processes and service delivery.