President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Independent Corrupt and related Practice Commission, ICPC, to beam its searchlight on public institutions that are yet to comply with the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS, in the country.
Mr Buhari gave the directive while speaking at the National summit on ‘‘Diminishing Corruption in the Public Service’’ organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, in collaboration with the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
The President noted that the new directive on IPPIS was intended to halt the padding of personnel budgets and the diversion or misappropriation of capital budgets.
‘‘I am aware that the Commission recently conducted System Studies and Review of many MDAs to evaluate systems and processes relating to transparency and accountability in personnel and capital spending through which you successfully blocked over N9 billion from being diverted from 2019 personnel budget.
‘‘That was a proactive prevention measure. I have directed that all agencies of government must get on the IPPIS in order to eliminate the padding of personnel budgets.
‘‘I urge ICPC to beam its searchlight on all agencies yet to get on the IPPIS and our e-government platform in order to fully halt the padding of personnel budgets and the diversion or misappropriation of capital budgets,’’ he said.
The President also used the occasion, which marked the launch of the Constituency Projects Transparency Group, CPTG, Report Phase One, to reiterate his appeal to all well-meaning Nigerians to join in the fight against corruption.
‘‘The war against corruption cannot be won without prevention, enforcement, public education and enlightenment.
‘‘I encourage the ICPC and other law enforcement agencies to intensify their efforts in public education, enlightenment and engagement with citizens.
‘‘I also urge our development partners, civil society organizations, and the media to continue to support our efforts to strengthen ethical values and integrity in Nigeria,’’ he said.
On the activities of ICPC, President Buhari commended the new Board of the anti-graft agency for major enforcement and preventive initiatives including the System Study Review, tracking of Zonal Intervention Projects, otherwise called Constituency Projects, and collaboration with the National Social Investment Office.
The President said: ‘‘It is on record that in the past ten years One trillion naira (N1trillion) has been appropriated for constituency projects yet the impact of such huge spending on the lives and welfare of ordinary Nigerians can hardly be seen.
‘‘The first phase report of tracking these projects by ICPC confirms our worst fears that people at the grassroots have not benefited in terms commensurate with the huge sums appropriated for constituency projects since inception.
‘‘I am, therefore, delighted that through the effort of ICPC some contractors are returning to site to execute projects hitherto abandoned and that project sponsors are being held to account.
‘‘The ICPC has my full support and the support of this government to hold fully to account contractors, complicit public servants and project sponsors who divert funds meant for constituencies or other people oriented welfare projects of our government or who by other means reduce the quality and value of such projects meant for our people.’’
On asset recovery, the President reaffirmed that his administration will continue to support anti-corruption agencies to recover all ill-gotten wealth and prosecute offenders, adding that all fully recovered physical assets will be sold and the proceeds remitted to the treasury.
‘‘Enforcement activities by anti-corruption agencies continue to reveal that some public officers possess properties and assets way beyond their legitimate sources of income.
‘‘Asset recovery cases in court also reveal that some of these criminally minded public officials are quick to disown these properties during investigation and in court.
‘‘Recovered assets will continue to be deployed in the provision of needed infrastructure and social welfare programs.
‘‘The National Social Investment Program is already utilizing recovered funds to touch the lives of vulnerable Nigerians.
‘‘I, therefore, commend the partnership between the ICPC and the National Social Investment Office to ensure that beneficiaries of government social intervention programs are not short-changed along the line by unpatriotic officials,’’ he said.
President Buhari, who described corruption as the cause of many major problems in our country, said ‘‘it is a catalyst for poverty, insecurity, weak educational system, poor health facilities and services and many other ills of our society.
‘‘This government is working hard to overcome such ills. Corruption generally and public sector corruption in particular, inhibits the ability of government to deliver infrastructure and basic services to the people.
‘‘That is why I have reiterated on many occasions that corruption is an existential threat to Nigeria.
‘‘Corruption is furthermore, a major threat to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals and the socio-economic transformation we are all working hard to bring about in Nigeria.’’