By ANDREW ESSIEN ABUJA
A think-tank group under the umbrella of APC Legacy Awareness and Campaign has said that rather than the usual method of arrest and prosecution, the current administration’s anti-corruption drive is engaged in promoting a lasting system of accountability through the establishment of preventive mechanisms in the body polity.
The group cited the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the Personnel Information System (IPPIS), and the whistleblowing policy as some of the mechanisms instituted by the Buhari administration to prevent corruption in the system.
His submission was contained in a statement issued and signed by The group’s representatives: Barr. Ismail Ahmed, Mr. Lanre Issa-Onilu, Mr. Tolu Ogunlesi, and Mr. Salihu Moh. Lukman.
They maintained that the Buhari Administration also established the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA) to strengthen controls over Government finances through a continuous internal audit process across all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), particularly in respect of payroll, noting that PICA has helped to identify and remove more than 54,000 fraudulent payroll entries, amounting to savings of N200 billion per annum.
The statement said, “In the life of the administration, the President established the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), to sign-post to the world the significance of the fight against corruption to his administration. It was the very first committee the President set up after he was sworn into office.
“Since inception PACAC has helped produce manuals, protocols and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to assist Anti-Corruption Agencies (ACAs) in their work, including a Corruption Case Management Manual; Plea Bargaining Manual; Sentencing Guidelines in High Profile Cases; a Framework for the Management of Recovered Stolen Assets, Asset Recovery Strategy Document, among others.
“Also in August 2015, President Buhari issued his first major Presidential Order, directing all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to close their accounts with Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and transfer their balances to the Treasury Single Account (TSA) system under the oversight of the Central Bank of Nigeria, on or before 15th September 2015. The TSA system, launched in 2012, had struggled to gain traction until President Buhari’s executive order. More than 17,000 commercial bank accounts have since been closed down, resulting in savings of an average of N4 billion monthly, in banking charges; apart from the increased transparency and accountability that comes from the new system.
“Similar to the TSA is the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), through which the Federal Government pays its staff. Like the TSA it was inherited from previous administrations, but with limited coverage. Since 2015 President Buhari has mandated expansion of coverage, in spite of great opposition, so that today it now covers virtually all of the Federal Government, including the Armed Forces, as well as Federal Universities and other academic institutions.
“The Whistleblowing Policy introduced by the Government in December 2016 was the first of its kind in the country. Since then it has yielded several billions of Naira in recoveries from tax evaders and public officials.
“The increased oversight of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and their finances under this Administration has since started yielding results, through increased remittance of operating surpluses by MDAs. For example, from remitting only N51 million between 2010 and 2016, JAMB has gone on to remit more than 20 billion Naira to the Federal Government since 2017. This same scenario is being replicated across several MDAs.
“The Buhari Administration also established the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA) to strengthen controls over Government finances through a continuous internal audit process across all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), particularly in respect of payroll. PICA helped identify and remove more than 54,000 fraudulent payroll entries, amounting to savings of N200 billion per annum.
“In July 2016, Nigeria became the 70th country in the world to join the Open Government Partnership (OGP), as part of efforts to globally mainstream Nigeria’s public transparency efforts.
“Other transparency and anti-corruption initiatives of the Buhari Administration include Project Lighthouse, launched in 2018 to integrate multiple tax and revenue data sources from across the government and third parties (land records, CAC records, REMITA platform, Private Jet Ownership data, FIRS database, etc) and thus help ensure accurate income and tax assessment for individual and corporate taxpayers.”