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Fighting graft beyond EFCC dramatics

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EFCC: SINCE President Muhammadu Buhari assumed power in 2015 with his anti-graft policy occupying a prime position in his Three-Point Agenda, his government has been severely criticised for deliberately sensationalising the effort.

The regime was accused of emphasising the recovery of stolen funds and targeting officials of the former Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, administration while largely ignoring those culpable in his own party and government. Also, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, headed by Mr Ibrahim Magu adopted the strategy of media trials to unduly demonise real and apparent enemies of government.

We have issued several calls on the Federal Government to abandon the media drama of the anti-graft war and ensure it is conducted within the due processes of the law to make it more wholesome. We pointed out the need to look beyond mere recovery of looted funds which is often done with impunity. We called for more emphasis on the use of technology to prevent corruption before it takes place or catch culprits in the act. After all, prevention is still better than cure.

We are glad to note that the regime appears more serious to fight corruption at the root through the deployment of technology and preventive strategies. This much was evident in the President’s speech at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Course Five passing-out parade in Kaduna on Tuesday, February 18, 2020.

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Buhari disclosed that a pilot programme by 10 Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, to test-run the simultaneous online display of their “budgets and expenditure movements” pioneered by the Federal Budget Office is already showing great promise and would soon apply to all Federal MDAs.

This programme, if effectively implemented, will enable all interested Nigerians, the media, civil society groups, interest groups and even our partners in the international community to track our budgets and take necessary actions to promote transparency and accountability while minimising corruption at source.

The President also outlined his firm pursuit of existing technology-based instruments to fight corruption such as the Government Integrated and Management Information System, GIMIS, Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS, Bank Verification Number, BVN and the Treasury Single Account, TSA.

He also displayed a number of Executive Orders and other protocols, top of which is the grant of autonomy to the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, which is driving the direct allocation of funds from the Federation Account to the local governments.

This is the way to go. Buhari will leave a lasting legacy in anti-corruption if he deploys more technology to smash the age-old cartels in the bureaucracy that steal us blind. Nigeria’s money can work more effectively for the people. If effectively implemented our worldwide corruption perception will be sustainably reduced.

VANGUARD

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