By Benjamin Omoike
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has thrown its weight behind the Nigerian Senate in its bid to block the existing loopholes in audit law and invariably improve in its fight against corruption.
In a statement issued by CACOL and signed by Adegboyega Otunuga, the anti-corruption organization’s Coordinator, Media and Publications on behalf of its Executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he stated, “We received the news of the Leadership of the 9th Senate of the Nigerian legislature to the effect that they are now determined and genuinely committed to advancing necessary legal muscle that would allow the Auditor-General of the Federation to effect submission of the audited accounts of the governmental ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) for clinical perusal and necessary scrutiny.
“This is no doubt, in line with our previous calls for the audit law and other useful legislation that are already begging for speedy consideration and passage in the National Assembly for ages to be accorded due attention so that the fight against official corruption could become a thing of the past in the country.
“In line with the revelation of the Vice Chairman of Senate Public Accounts Committee, Senator Ibrahim Hadejia, on how most of the MDAs flagrantly disregard the directives of the National Assembly and the country’s Auditor-General (Aud.GF) on submission of same audited accounts for necessary vetting and scrutiny because there is a lacuna in our Constitution that has made it expedient for them to tactically evade such order with no fear of backlash or any sanction whatsoever for such impunity. “This trend is not peculiar to the MDAs only, as the both the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) and other existing financial laws are either inadequate or contradictory in addressing modern challenges posed by corruption in the country.
“Since the advent of this democratic dispensation, we have seen instances where some Nigerians that worked for so many years abroad, even in government circle, etc., and adjudged unblemished and impeccable only for them to come home and be given official appointment only to suddenly become very corrupt.
“The reason for this inconsistency is not far-fetched as deliberate loopholes exist in our statutes and other regulatory enactments that make corruption attractive and tempting since most of our approach against corruption is aimed at apprehending after the crime/s rather than aiming at prevention as it is being done in saner and more advanced climes.
“The irony of all this could also be seen even in the way and manner institutions that were set up to fight corruption or deal with official recklessness or constitutional breaches have been deliberately emasculated or hindered in the discharge of their statutory duties; either the office of the Auditor-General, the Anti-corruption agencies and even the Judiciary as the last course of resort. As at today in the country, the Legislative and Executive arms reserve the discretion of fixing their salary and other emoluments, including appropriation on their own budgets, whereas, the Judiciary that should be most independent of control to enable it discharge its institutional and moral obligations is deliberately emasculated. With the advancement in technology today, most of the looting or financial manipulations would be effectively prevented and detected ab initio if we focused more on prevention and greater accountability and independence of organs saddled with oversight and embrace e-governance as a matter of urgency.”
The CACOL Boss further enthused, “As at last count, over USD250bn (Two Hundred and Fifty Billion Dollars) is being syphoned from various countries in Africa yearly, while a large chunk of this is looted from public treasury in Nigeria. As a matter of fact, both the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and ICPC (Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission) agreed with Transparency International (TI) estimation that about 25 percent of Nigeria’s overall GDP (Gross Domestic Product) yearly, are lost to grand larceny. The solution lies in strengthening laws and institutions that could aid in changing this terrible narrative while we make technological advancement the cornerstone of our anti-corruption agenda.” The statement said.