The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; and the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), yesterday, lamented that despite concerted efforts by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s led administration to eradicate corruption, the scourge still ravages the country.
The duo among other stakeholders spoke at an event in Abuja where they highlighted steps that needed to be taken to strengthen the government’s anti-corruption agenda.
Also at the event: “One-day Dialogue Session on Strengthening the Anti-Corruption Agenda: Ensuring Accountability and Transparency,” goodwill messages were delivered on the subject matter by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Anti-corruption and Financial Crimes, Senator Sulieman Kwari; the Director of Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) and organisers of the event, Idayat Hassan and Director, Africa Office, MacArthur Foundation, Kole Shettima, the funding partner.
The SGF, who spoke through the Permanent Secretary, Special Services, Amina Shamaki, disclosed that the Buhari administration had since 2015, recorded “unprecedented level of successes” in the fight against corruption by securing “the most number of convictions, including very high-profile personalities” and making “world-record recoveries in terms of money and assets.”
He, however, lamented that despite the successes recorded, the anti-graft war had not been won.
He said: “Nonetheless, we should not rest on our oars with the illusion that the war has been won despite the level of the successes I have enumerated.
“While the fight has been very successful in tackling monumental corruption, less grandeur cases are perceived and even reported.
“While the government has displayed uncommon courage to relieve its appointees especially, in its agencies, of their positions and responsibilities, there still exist some level of infractions on Public Procurement Act, and other laws. These tend to diminish the efforts of government in this direction.”
While proffering solution to end the scourge, the SGF expressed the need to bring about “innovative legislations, policies and measures to deal decisively with the lingering acts of corruption.”
In addition, he posited that the roles of audit departments/units and auditors in aiding and abetting corruption in ministries, departments and agencies should be addressed.
To this end, he called for the prosecution of auditors who sanction corrupt payments alongside the main culprits in corruption cases.
He added: “I should like to see the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation come up with innovative policies and measures to empower auditors to halt any payment that is clearly in breach of Public Procurement Act, Financial Regulations, Public Service Rules in particular, and other laws, in general.
“For such auditors that compromise, or are complicit, such policies and measures should isolate them for disciplinary action which should not preclude prosecution.”
On his part, Prof. Itse Sagay noted that the consequence of corrupt acts, included “massive unemployment, unequipped clinics, and hospitals, wretched schools, colleges, and universities without facilities, bad roads, lack of electric power and so on.
“Deaths on the roads, deaths in hospitals, deaths in maternity facilities, militants, kidnappers, armed robbers, murders, suicides are also a direct product of this Nigerian culture,” he added.
As a short-term solution to the corruption problems, Sagay suggested that “the existing Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit structure be adopted as the centre of Nigeria’s intelligence databank for sharing information and intelligence on corruption.”
Adding his voice to the issue, the CDD Director, Hassan, who spoke through the Senior Programme Officer of the organisation, Lukman Adefolahan, also said “a lot more still needs to be done to strengthen the fight against corruption, promote accountability and transparency”, despite “the great strides” that had been made in the fight against graft.
“These different dimensions of corruption have characterised Nigeria’s landscape and by implication made it be consistently rated among the most corrupt countries in the world by Transparency International in its Corruption Perception Index.”
She accordingly called for “pragmatic measures to curb corruption to safeguard Nigeria’s future given the implication of the problem on security, political, social, and economic prospects of the country.”
But Kwari said the Senate through its committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes “is also reviewing all the anti-corruption and financial legislations with a view to bringing them in line with current day realities and making them more effective.”
Meanwhile, a leading legal practitioner in Nigeria and President of the Caleb and Greg Foundation (CAGG), Olusegun Bamgbose, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari should have nothing doing in the State House, if he can’t tackle poverty.
He called on the President to declare war on poverty and joblessness among the youths in the country.
Bamgbose had earlier told newsmen that he can fix Nigeria in 24 hours, if he takes over from Buhari in 2023.
In a statement, yesterday, the senior lawyer said, “Extreme poverty in Nigeria is alarming and assuming a new and dangerous trend. Most recently the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, asserted that 90 million Nigerians are living in extreme poverty.
“This is actually not shocking but a sad one. If these Nigerians were a country, it will be more populous that Germany. It’s really not good news because almost six people in Nigeria fall into poverty trap every minute.
“We, therefore, call on Buhari’s government to declare total war against extreme poverty and go further to declare state of emergency on joblessness in the country. Wars can’t be fought without weapons.
“The weapons should be pragmatic and purposeful programs that will clearly minimize poverty in Nigeria.
“The World Poverty Clock has clearly indicated that if nothing seriously and sustainable is done to curtail poverty, Nigeria might be home to 120 million people living in extreme poverty come 2030.
“This is dreadful. I want to say here with all sense of responsibility that this is certainly not the best of time for President Buhari to be out of the country for more than five days.
“The economic status of Nigeria being the poverty capital of the world must change.
“Something urgent and cogent must be practically done to nip in the bud this perennial problem of poverty, hardship and joblessness.
“The introduction of N-Power is quite good but more is expected from the government to reduce meaningfully the poverty trend in Nigeria.
“Poverty and joblessness breed crime and violence. Our youths are finding crime attractive because the jobs are not there.
“No country in the world has ever succeeded in curbing the wave of crime without first tackling poverty headlong.
“Mahatma Gandhi once said that poverty is the worst form of violence. It’s not in doubt that poverty is a nightmare.
“The government must search for extraordinary ways through which poverty will be minimized if not eradicated.
“It won’t be out of place to come up with a committee with a mandate to come up with blueprints on how jobs can be created and poverty minimized.
“If this government can’t find a way to minimize poverty then the government has failed in its responsibility.
“President Buhari has nothing doing in State House if he can’t tackle poverty. On our part as Foundation, we shall launch LEAP Community in 2020.
“Let’s Eradicate Abject Poverty (LEAP). It’s our expectation that about 25 million Nigerians will be part of the community.
“Our main aim is to join forces with the government and stakeholders to eradicate poverty in Nigeria not later than 2030. We, however, expect President Buhari to take the lead in fighting poverty.
“Our universities turn out graduates every year but joblessness stares at them. Crime and prostitution are now on the increase as a result of poverty and joblessness. The time to act decisively is now”, he added.
Rivers State Needs College of Education-Don
Following the upgrade of the former College of Education to a university, a university teacher has sued for the establishment of a new college of education to replace the old one.
The plea was made by a lecturer in the political Science Department of the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Dr. Iwarimie Uranta.
Uranta who made his views known in an interview with The Tide pointed out that College of Education if established will address the middle manpower in the educational system of the state.
For now, Uranta said “there is a vacuum,” National Certificate of Education (NCE) will help bridge the gap of middle manpower in the teaching profession.”
He continued”, it will boost the teaching of core courses, because NCE teachers are trained as teachers in those courses”.
The university don pointed out that currently there is a limited number of people who wants to do education. It reduce pressure on the universities and reduce social vices by the youths, Uranta stressed.
Besides, he said the current reforms in the educational system will benefit as many private schools will have manpower to recruit instead of engaging quacks in their schools.
In a similar vein, Head of Educational Psychology/ Guidance and Counselling in the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Dr. Sunday Ordu has commended the State Government
for the policy to sanitise privately schools in the state.
“A lot of private schools don not have professional teachers so the policy is in the right direction.
It will improve manpower faculties to enhance educational growth. The environment must be conducive” he added.
RSG Implements TSA To Block Revenue Leakages, Soon …Tasks State Internal Revenue Service To Grow Monthly IGR To N10bn …Seeks Informal Sector’s Support Through Payment Of Prescribed Taxes
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has announced that the state government would soon commence the operation of Treasury Single Account (TSA) to boost its revenue base.
Wike also charged the Rivers Internal Revenue Service (RIRS) to grow the state’s monthly Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to N10billion.
He spoke during the flag off of Informal Sector Tax Drive with vehicles donated by Access Bank Limited at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The governor said: “We will initiate the Treasury Single Account to block revenue leakages. I assure that very soon, the Treasury Single Account will become operational.
“The Treasury Single Account will be implemented to checkmate what is presently going on. It is not good to have several accounts which lead to unnecessary leakages.
“Our revenue base fluctuates. The board has been directed to expedite action for the state to hit N10billion Internally Generated Revenue every month.”
Wike explained that the Treasury Single Account will be diligently implemented in the interest of Rivers State, and restated that his allegiance was to Rivers people who voted him, because he was not sponsored by any group.
He urged the informal sector to support the Rivers State Government by paying their taxes as prescribed by the Rivers Internal Revenue Service (RIRS).
“The drive for informal sector tax is key. I believe it will boost our revenue base, and we need it”, he said, and thanked Access Bank Limited for supporting the revenue drive of the state with the donation of 10 buses.
In his remarks, the Chairman of Rivers State Internal Revenue Service (RIRS), Mr Adoage Norte said that the flag off of the informal sector tax drive would ensure that informal sector entrepreneurs pay their taxes.
He said that at present, the informal sector has not been paying taxes, explaining that the flag off would unlock the tax potentials of the informal sector.
Norte lauded Access Bank Plc for supporting the informal tax drive of the Rivers State Internal Revenue Service with the donation of 10 buses, pointing out that the buses would be used across the state.
He added that the service was also in dire need of branded kiosks for point of sales transactions, and suggested the operation of Treasury Single Account to optimize revenue generation in the state.
Representative of the Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, Mr David Tinad, thanked the Rivers State Government for the opportunity to partner on revenue generation.
He assured the Rivers State Government that Access Bank Plc would continue to support efforts by the state government to improve its revenue base.
Fake Policemen Disrupted Polls In Bayelsa, Kogi, IGP Admits …Says We’re Aware People Planned To Wear Police Uniforms …As Senate Moves To Okay E-Voting For Future Polls
The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, has said that ‘policemen’ alleged to have disrupted Saturday’s governorship polls in parts of Bayelsa and Kogi States were “fake” and not the personnel officially deployed for election duties.
Adamu stated that all security personnel, who worked during the polls had “special identification tags”, adding that anyone without the tags was on illegal duty.
He spoke with State House correspondents after President Muhammadu Buhari and security chiefs held a meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday.
However, he said an investigation was ongoing, while 11 arrests had been made.
Similarly, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu, yesterday, said that the police were aware of the plan by politicians to sew police uniforms for their supporters during the Kogi and Bayelsa States governorship elections.
The IGP also said that ‘policemen’ alleged to have disrupted the November 16 governorship polls in parts of the two states were “fake” and not the personnel officially deployed for election duties.
Briefing State House correspondents after a security meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, Adamu stated that all security personnel, who worked during the elections were given “special identification tags”, adding that anyone without the tags was on illegal duty.
The IGP, who said that the security situation in the country was stable, however, said investigation was ongoing to unravel the identities of those that caused violence during the elections, adding that 11 arrests had been made.
On the alleged police extortion of motorists in South East by police officers at checkpoints, he advised that people should always copy the names of such police officers and report them to the police hierarchy in the area.
Meanwhile, the Senate has begun a fresh electoral reform which has mandated the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to adopt the much-awaited electronic voting method for future polls.
The lawmakers also compelled INEC to operate an electronic database into which all results in an election should be transmitted.
A bill to amend the Electoral Act 2010 through which the reform would be achieved has already been published in an official gazette and debate on its general principles may begin on the floor of the Senate during the week.
A copy of the bill, made available to newsmen, also stipulates that data of accredited voters must be transmitted to the central data base upon the conclusion of the accreditation of voters which would be done through the use of the card reader.
“At the end of accreditation of voters, the presiding officer shall transmit the voter accreditation data by secure mobile electronic communication to the central database of the commission kept at the national headquarters of the commission.
“Any presiding officer who contravenes this provision shall be liable, on conviction, to a minimum of imprisonment of at least five years without an option of fine,” the bill also stipulates.
It prevents INEC from shutting down the central data base until all petitions arising from the elections are determined by a tribunal or court.
“In respect of data of accreditation of voters, including polling unit results, for an election, the commission shall not shut down its central database kept at its national headquarters until all election petitions and appeals pertaining to that election are heard and determined by a tribunal or court.”
On the specific provisions for the adoption of the central database, the bill, which is being sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege and Abubakar Kyari (APC, Borno State), seeks amendment of Section 65 of the Electoral Act 2010 by introducing a “National Electronic Register of Election Results.”
It states: “The commission shall compile, maintain and update on a continuous basis, a register of election results to be known as the National Electronic Register of Election Results which shall be a database of election results from each polling unit, including collated results of each election conducted by the commission.
“National Electronic Register of Election Results shall be kept by the commission at its national headquarters and any person or political party may obtain from the commission, on payment of reasonable fees as may be determined by the commission, a certified true copy of any election result kept in the National Electronic Register of Election Results for the federation, a state, local government, area council, ward or polling unit, as the case may be and the certified true copy may be in printed or electronic format.”
On electronic voting, the Electoral Reform Bill seeks amendment of Section 52 (2) of the 2010 Electoral Act and introduced a new provision stating that “the commission may adopt electronic voting or any other method of voting in any election it conducts as it may deem fit.”
It was learned that many lawmakers are not comfortable with the additional clause which permits INEC to use any other method it deems fit and may delete that option during the consideration of the bill.
The current law completely prohibits the use of electronic voting as it states: “The use of the electronic voting machine, for the time being, is prohibited.”
The reform bill has also slashed the nomination fees charged by political parties.
Presidential aspirants are to pay not more than N10million while governorship aspirants are to pay N5million.
Specifically, the bill states: “For the purpose of nomination of candidates for election, the total fees, charges, dues and any payment howsoever named imposed by a political party on an aspirant shall not exceed: N150,000 for a ward councillorship aspirant in the FCT; N250,000 for an area council chairmanship aspirant in the FCT; N500,000 for a House of Assembly aspirant; N1,000,000 for a House of Representatives aspirant; N2,000,000 for a senatorial aspirant; N5,000,000 for a governorship aspirant; and N10,000,000 for a presidential aspirant.”
The Bukola Saraki-led National Assembly had attempted the electoral reform but failed to get the presidential approval at the end.
The bill sought to strengthen internal democracy, reduce the cost of politics, widen political participation and the conduct of free fair and credible elections through technological innovations and an electronic database.
However, there were concerns raised over the enforceability of some of its provisions.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in refusing to sign that bill, had said: “I am declining assent to the bill principally because I am concerned that passing a new electoral bill this far into the electoral process for the 2019 general election, which commenced under the 2015 Electoral Act, could create some uncertainty about the applicable legislation to govern the process.
“Any real or apparent change to the rules this close to the election may provide an opportunity for disruption and confusion in respect of which law governs the electoral process.”
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