The Federal Government says the fight against corruption is progressing on all fronts, including institutional reforms, loot recovery and prosecution of alleged corrupt persons.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed stated this on Monday in Lagos at a media briefing to present the major achievements of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for the outgoing year 2019.
He recalled that the fight against corruption was one of the cardinal programmes of the administration, with the others being the revamping of the economy and tackling insecurity.
Mohammed said that the administration took a major step forward in the fight against corruption when it inagurated the Financial Transparency Policy and Portal, also known as Open Government.
“The Transparency Policy mandates the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF) to publish a Daily Treasury Statement, which will provide information about what comes into the national treasury and what goes out every day.
“Under the policy, the Accountant-General of the Federation and all Accounting Officers must publish Daily Payments Reports.
“With these reports, the Treasury will publish payments of at least N10 million while all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) must publish payments above N5 million made out of all public funds in their care.
“The information to be published must include the MDA responsible, the beneficiary, the purpose and amount of each payment.
“Accounting officers are responsible for providing answers to any questions from the public relating to transactions completed by entities under their charge,” he said.
The minister added that the policy mandated the AGF to publish monthly Fiscal Accounts detailing the fiscal performance of the Federation, including receipts from all the collection agencies and payments out of the Federation Account.
He said the AGF and all Accounting Officers of MDAs are also mandated to publish Quarterly Financial Statements for the government as a whole and for individual MDAs
He said the policy, according to the President was to cement government’s commitment to improving governance, supplementing the Whistle-blower Policy and equipping the general population with the tools they need to report financial wrongdoing.
“This policy is unprecedented and will go a long way in enhancing transparency in governance and curtailing public sector corruption” he said.
The minister said that in its effort to block leakages and promote transparency in the management of resources, the President in the year approved additional cost-saving measures, particularly in the area of official travels.
“Under the new policy, all MDAs are required to submit their Yearly Travel Plans for statutory meetings and engagements to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and/or the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation for express clearance.
“On the Nature and Frequency of travels, all public-funded travels (local and foreign), must be strictly for official purposes backed with documentary evidence.
“In this regard, all foreign travels must be
for highly-essential statutory engagements that are beneficial to the interest of the country.
“Except with the express approval of Mr. President, Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Chairmen of Extra-Ministerial Departments, Chief Executive Officers and Directors are restricted to not more than two (2) foreign travels in a quarter.
“Also, when a minister is at the head of an official delegation, the size of such delegation shall not exceed four (4) including the relevant Director, Schedule Officer and one (1) Aide of the minister.
“Every other delegation below ministerial level shall be restricted to a maximum of three,’’ he said.
He said the President also approved that Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Special Advisers, Senior Special Assistants to the President, Chairmen of Extra-Ministerial Departments and Chief Executive Officers of Parastatals are entitled to continue to fly Business Class,.
Other categories of Public Officers are to
travel on Economy Class, while official trips was limited to only the number of days of the event as contained in the supporting documents to qualify for public funding.
Mohammed said the fight against corruption also gained momentum within the period with high profile convictions.
He said between January 2019 and October. 2019 alone, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) secured 890 convictions.
“This is the highest anywhere in the world. Recall that in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, the EFCC was only able to secure 103, 189, 190 and 202 convictions respectively.
“The high rate of convictions in 2019 is in addition to the billions of naira in looted funds that have been recovered by the EFCC,’’ he said.
The minister said the ICPC had inaugurated a novel project of tracking the huge resources allocated to constituency projects over the years.
He said the Commission had started with the education and health sectors and already, many contractors who abandoned their projects had been returning to site.
Mohammed said the ICPC also inaugurated the WAHALA DEY app, a one-stop shop for daily information from the ICPC, and for Nigerians to report acts of corruption.
The minister reiterated the commitment of the President to fighting the canker-worm of corruption in the country.
He said that corruption had been driven
under the table, adding that the corrupt ones would no longer be able to flaunt the proceeds of their corruption the way they used to do in the past.