The Centre for Fiscal Transparency and Integrity Watch (CFTIW) has partnered with the Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes to review the implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS).
The committee, chaired by Senator Suleiman Kwari (Kaduna North), organised a public hearing on June 9 and 10 for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
The Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari; Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye; and Director-General of National Orientation Agency (NOA), Garba Abari appeared at the hearing.
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.
The Vice President’s Office; Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC); United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC); Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-Corruption (TUGAR); Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA); and other civil society organizations also attended.
In his address, Kyari, listed the establishment of an anti-corruption desk, risk management charter, regulatory compliance and government charter, internal audit charter, and publication of corruption investigation manual, as achievements of the NACS implementation.
“Our transparency policy says we must disclose anybody we are doing businesses with, we are working with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) on this. We are required to have transparency in commodity trading, this means the crude oil and the gas that we sell must be fully disclosed.
“Anyone here can simply go to the NNPC website. Every data that is required is in public space. NNPC, for 43 years, never published our audited accounts. But we did for 2018, we have published for 2019 and we are going to publish the 2020 audited financial statement.”
Kyari regretted how Covid-19 and the #EndSARS demonstrations stalled the petroleum downstream deregulation.
He said though the crash of oil prices due to the pandemic gave Nigeria an opportunity to remove subsidies, the protests forced the government to reconsider.
In his presentation, Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, announced that the ICPC has been conducting corruption risk assessment of some MDAs.
He said the agency was focusing on the prevention of corruption.
One of the strategies highlighted was the “system survey of the MDAs and corruption risk assessment.
“We have noticed improvement because we published the reports in the newspapers, they are having impacts. We have done intensive review of five MDAs and 104 unity schools across the country.”
Kwari commended Owansanoye for ICPC efforts, and mandated all participants to use the commission’s template for the performance appraisal.
The Auditor General’s Office; Nigeria Customs Services (NCS); Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP); Office of the Head of Civil Service (HOSF); and Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC); also appeared before the committee.
The NCS mentioned the establishment of the Nigeria Integrated Customs Systems.
The platform grants stakeholders access to update the system from the comfort of their homes or offices.
The agency told the committee that an Anti-Corruption and Transparency Unit (ACTU) has also been set up at its headquarters, seaports and airports in line with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) guidelines.
The BPP Head of Regulations and Database, Aliyu Aliyu, said the agency had developed a database system, and was streamlining the procurement process of the government.
About 328 government officials have been lectured on the use of Nigeria Open Contracting Portal (NOCPO).
The BPP trained procurement officers in Federal University, Owerri; Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; and University of Lagos; among others.
On the procurement office management system, he hinted that capacity building to contractor and procurement monitor is just 20 per cent, while the establishment of a national contractor verification team and verification database is 100 per cent.
“We have done full implementation of open contracting and adoption of contracting data standards. MDAs are expected to load their procurement plans and their procurement records on the portal.”
The Auditor General, represented by the Director of Audit, Gandu Magaji, confirmed that staff have been sensitized on the NACS, forensic audit, and that an ACTU unit was operational.
The TUGAR chairman added that he ensures MDAs implement the strategy.
“My office has submitted audited reports up to 2019 to the National Assembly. For the 2020 account, the Accountant General has submitted the statement. In three months, we should be able to submit them.
“We have an annual audit of the recovered assets. We have not been able to do this, but the Auditor General is in the committee set up by the government to manage the sales of the assets.
“Despite the increase in anti-corruption activities to implement the NACS, there was no increase in funding to support the process. NACS did not make the desired impact due to lack of funding”, he said.
Kwari promised that the Senate will look into the funding, and directed all MDAs that made presentations to submit an evaluation of the NASC implementation to the secretariat of the committee.
The VP’s Office, represented by the Senior Special Assistant on Rule of Law, Dr. Fatima Waziri-Azi, called for the adoption of data in the report template of the MDAs.
She stressed that data will help in measuring the impact of the strategy.
“We are happy that this forum was provided to enable us to assess the NASC and to know the level of the fight against corruption. To adequately review the implementation, the MDAs here, who have submitted their reports, should also be requested to provide specific data and figures.
“How many people were trained? How many meetings were done? We need data to measure the impact. We have seen that the funding and structure have not really worked well. That is something we should think about when reviewing NACS for the second time.”
In closing remarks, Senator Suleiman Kwari, thanked the CFTIW, and its Executive Director, Umar Yakubu, for the initiative, the technical support to drive the process, and for serving as a co-secretariat for the event.
“The Senate will work with the centre in different areas. We will continue to assist Mr. President to fight corruption. We thank all those that attended the sessions. We will present the report to the Senate and make it public”, the lawmaker added.
N’Delta Leaders Insist On Resource Control, Self-Determination
The leaders, who lamented that the people of the Niger Delta had been talking and agitating for resource control and restructuring of the country through conferences but to no avail, said the time had come for them to take their destiny in their hands.
In a keynote address at a conference by the Niger Delta Alternative Convergence (NDAC) to endorse the eight-point demand in the “Niger Delta Manifesto for Socio-Ecological Justice” in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, former Chairman, Editorial Board of The Guardian, Prof. G. G. Darah, said: “From the challenges we are facing in the Niger Delta region, we seem to assume that the Federal Government is on our side whereas the Federal Government is the number one enemy of the Niger Delta.
“Today, people are anxious to be the president of Nigeria because there is the Niger Delta oil for them to squander. What this means is that the political system is all organised for taking control of the oil money, to share it among the friends of the president. All the parties are organised gangs to loot and plunder the Niger Delta resources.
“That is the country we are in. Therefore, we must assume that whatever government that comes to office in 2023 will not be different from the past ones since 1960. Nigeria has been designed to steal our resources and share. They gather monthly in Abuja to share the money. All our presidents, now and past, occupied office for the purpose of plundering our resources, otherwise our own son would have done something. Jonathan, when he was president, had no capacity to touch any bad section of the constitution against the Niger Delta”.
According to Darah, “Nigeria exists today because of Niger Delta oil and Nigeria is the only country in the world that has colonised its people.
“Now, we are pleading that the Federal Government should implement the manifesto. We have to do it by ourselves because if you look at history, it is not today that our people have been fighting against injustice. Jonathan called for a national conference and all the issues raised could not be implemented. So, what we are doing now is the authentication of the national conference for Nigerian people.
“The structure of Nigeria is against us and to build a new Nigeria will take time. We need a Niger Delta that will be in charge of its own resources and aim to be a country of its own, a sovereign country. Some ethnic groups in the Niger Delta are bigger than some European countries and our ancestors in their grave will not forgive us that we succumbed cheaply. We are well populated”.
Prof. Lucky Akaruese of the Ishekiri nationality aligned with the position of Darah, noting that many countries of the world like East Timo and Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, Denmark and Norway, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union that split into many countries are products of negotiations, so the Niger Delta and Nigeria cannot be an exception.
A prominent traditional ruler from Rivers State backed the demand for a sovereign state.
“I agree with Prof. Darah that we should clamour for Niger Delta Republic, and the manifesto we are signing today, we should speak with one voice. We have been talking and now it is only action that will bring result. There is nothing the Niger Delta has gotten without struggle.
“The manifesto will remain a document if we do not put it to action. The Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) presented a 16-point agenda but only two were implemented. So, we need to take a deliberate action on some of the issues we raise here.”
The convener of NDAC and Executive Director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Comrade Nnimmo Bassey, said: “The convergence also aims to produce an inclusive Niger Delta Manifesto for Socio-Ecological Justice highlighting needed alternatives for transformation and social mobilisations for resource justice. It is hoped that NDAC will provoke a platform for convergence of communities in the region to galvanise action for needed changes for re-source access, including through demands for legislative changes, debates on the Petroleum Industry Bill and for critical attainment of re-source democracy – defined as the right of a people to live in harmony with nature and to retain a right to use, or not use, the gifts of nature.”
He stated that 64 years of oil extraction had brought untold misery and cut life abysmally low in the region.
“Things cannot continue this way. We have demands and resolves in the proposed Niger Delta Manifesto shared to delegates. Let’s all rise to be counted, demand that politicians declare their environmental plans before they gain our votes. Let us demand real climate action, including a halt to gas flaring and a restoration of our ecosystems. Let us demand action to stall the washing away of our communities. After 64 years of a nightmare, it is time to wake up, it is time to demand socio-ecological justice. We are not calling for charity, we are calling for justice”.
Former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah, and the National Chairman of PANDEF, Senator Ibok Essien, clamoured for restructuring and total control of resources.
They pleaded with the people of the region to get their PVCs to vote people that will carry out restructuring of the country.
Nwuke Dismisses Wike’s Alleged Plan To Dump PDP
There have been insinuations that Wike might join either the Labour Party or the New Nigeria Political Party (NNPP) ahead of the 2023 general election.
This is coming after the governor met with the presidential candidate of Labour Party, Peter Obi; and the presidential candidate of NNPP, Rabiu Kwankwaso, in Port Harcourt, last week.
While speaking with newsmen in Port Harcourt,Nwuke said Wike has no plans to dump the PDP for any other party.
He further stated that the Rivers State governor would not defect considering the large followership he has built across the country.
Nwuke said, ”It just tells you who Governor Wike is. This is the first time he is playing national politics. But you can see that Wike has entered the minds of a lot of Nigerians. They are taking him seriously. Even the performance at the convention where the North rallied behind the scene to stop him, did not end in disgrace.
“So, if you look at the outcome of the convention, you will know that Governor Wike controls a sizable number of PDP members. A huge segment of the party is behind him. When you look at the gap between him and Atiku Abubakar and the gap between him and the rest, that should tell you something that the one we have been talking about has become notable when it comes to Nigeria’s politics.
“Frankly, he has followership in the North-Central; followership in the South-West; followership in the South-South and followership in the South-East. So, I am not surprised that a lot of people are coming to Port Harcourt, and saying, ‘Governor, why not come fully into the campaigns?’ They need him in the PDP house, and I am glad that Governor Wike has said ‘I am not going anywhere’.”
2023: Guber Candidate Faults INEC On APC, LP Placeholders
Recall that some presidential flagbearers picked vice Presidential candidates as placeholders, prompting reactions from cross sections of Nigerians.
Odefe said INEC erred by discrediting the candidates that picked placeholders in the build up to the general election in 2023.
He said, “As a political activist and a former three-time governorship candidate, I am compelled to react to the recent claim by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) through its National Commissioner, Barr. Festus Okoye, that there exists no place in Nigerian Constitution and Legal Framework for what is now described as “placeholders” in Nigeria’s electoral process specifically as it concerns submission, change or substitution of names of candidates for general elections by registered political parties.
“This claim by INEC is a fundamental falsehood deliberately made by it to mislead Nigerian voters and to cast aspersion on some political parties like APC and Labour Party which publicly disclosed that the names they submitted to INEC as their Vice Presidential Candidates were meant only to beat the June 17, 2022 date set by INEC but which they may change or substitute within the window provided by the sections 31 and 33 of the Electoral Act 2021, as amended to do so.
“Contrary to INEC’s claim, I wish to state unequivocally that actions taken by APC and LP are constitutional and in line with sections 29, 31 and 33 of the Electoral Act 2021, as amended. The use of the word, “Placeholder” is merely misinterpreted by INEC. “Placeholder” simply means that it is not substantive but temporarily standing in for something or someone else. The word is used in solving Algebraic Expression and Equations in Mathematics.
“Let me also inform Nigerians that this idea of changing or substituting candidates for general elections have been in our electoral laws of 2006, 2010 and now 2021, as amended.
“Furthermore, it is imperative for me to inform Nigerians that changing or substituting candidates for elections is not limited to only Vice Presidential Candidates as we now seem to focus on. In fact, all names so far submitted by Political Parties to INEC as Presidential, Vice Presidential, Senatorial, House of Representatives and House of Assembly Candidates are all “Placeholders” and can be changed or substituted before the 90 days to date of election, after which, no change or substitution is allowed except in case of death of a candidate.
“In conclusion, APC and LP have not acted against the Constitution and Electoral Act of Nigeria”.
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