The Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes last week reviewed the implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS).
This comes two years after President Muhammadu Buhari approved the implementation of a harmonised Anti-Corruption Strategy in 2017.
The enforcement is aimed at enhancing efforts to recover stolen public assets and ensure better collaboration between anti-graft agencies.
It also comes shortly after Nigeria joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in 2016 and developed the National Action Plan (NAP) – implementing 16 commitments; fiscal transparency, anti-corruption, extractive transparency, inclusiveness, and public service delivery, among others.
The Senate panel had directed Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs)to submit their reports on their fight against corruption and achievements recorded.
The committee, in a two-day event, partnered with the Center for Fiscal Transparency and Integrity Watch (CFTIW) to review the reports presented by various MDAs.
Some heads of agencies that appeared before the panel include the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari; Chairman, Independent Commission on Corrupt Practices (ICPC), Bolaji Owasanoye; and Director General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Garba Abari.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Ministry of Justice, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and others sent representatives.
Presenting his report, Mr Kyari, said part of the NNPC’s achievements of the implementation of the NACS include the creation of an anti-corruption office, a risk management charter, a regulatory and government compliance charter, an internal audit charter and the investigation of corruption.
“Our transparency policy says we must disclose anyone we do business with, we are working with the Trade Commission on this. We are required to have transparency in commodity trading, this means that the crude oil and gas we sell must be fully disclosed.
“Anyone here can just go to the NNPC website. All the required data can be found in the public space. The NNPC, for 43 years, never published our audited accounts. But we did it for 2018, we published for 2019 and we will publish the audited financial statements 2020.”
He also blamed the failure of the deregulation of oil downstream on the COVID-19 pandemic and the #EndSARS protest that rocked parts of the country in 2020.
Although the collapse in oil prices due to the pandemic gave Nigeria an opportunity to cut subsidies, the protests forced the government to reconsider its decision, he said.
Mr Owansanoye announced that the ICPC has conducted a corruption risk assessment of some MDAs and that the agency focuses on preventing corruption.
One of the strategies highlighted was “MDA System Investigation and Corruption Risk Assessment.”
“We noticed an improvement because we published the reports in the newspapers, they are having an impact. We conducted an in-depth review of 5 MDAs and 104 unit schools across the country,” he said.
Also before the committee was the Database Manager of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), Aliyu Aliyu, who said the agency has developed a database system and is streamlining the government’s procurement process.
The BPP, he said, has trained procurement officers at Federal University of Owerri, Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, and University of Lagos, among others and about 328 government officials received lectures on the use of the Nigerian Open Contracting (NOCPO) portal.
On the procurement office management system, he suggested that the capacity building of the contractor and the procurement controller is only 20 per cent, while the creation of a national contractor verification team and of a verification database is 100 per cent.
“We have fully implemented open contracts and adopted the contract data standard. MDAs are expected to upload their procurement plans and procurement records to the portal.”
Meanwhile, the representative of the Nigerian Customs Service mentioned the establishment of Nigeria’s integrated customs systems. The platform, they said, allows stakeholders to access the system update from the comfort of their home or office.
The agency also told the committee that an Anti-Corruption and Transparency Unit (ACTU) had also been set up at its headquarters, seaports and airports, in line with guidelines from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
The Auditor-General, represented by the Audit Director, Gandu Magaji, confirmed that the staff had been made aware of the NACS, the forensic audit, and that an ACTU unit is operational.
The office of the Vice President, represented by Fatima Waziri-Azi, Senior Special Assistant on Rule of Law, called for the adoption of the data in the MDA report template. She said the data will help to measure the impact of the strategy.
“We are happy that this forum has been planned to allow us to assess the NASC and know the level of the fight against corruption. To adequately review implementation, MDAs here, who have submitted their reports, should also be asked to provide specific data and figures.
“How many people have been trained? How many meetings have been held? We need data to measure the impact. We have seen that the funding and the structure have not really worked well. This is something we should think about when reviewing NACS for the second time.”
In his remarks, chairman of the panel, Suleiman Kwari (Kaduna North), assured that the Senate would review the funding for MDAs. He also asked the MDAs to submit an assessment of the NASC’s implementation to the committee’s secretariat.
He particularly congratulated the ICPC boss for the efforts of the agency and asked all participants to use the commission’s model for performance evaluation.
While he thanked CFTIW and its Executive Director, Umar Yakubu, for the initiative and the technical support to drive the process, the lawmaker said the legislature will continue to help the president fight corruption.
The panel is expected to present its report to the Senate on another legislative day.
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