THE Integrated Payment and Personnel Information System, IPPIS, the Bank Verification Number, BVN, and the Treasury Single Account, TSA, were technology-based instruments to fight corruption and money laundering at source and sanitise government spending.
IPPIS, in particular, was meant to digitalise the payroll of the Federal Government and eliminate the ghost worker syndrome whereby corrupt senior civil servants kept the names of dead or dismissed workers on the payroll which they exploited for their selfish needs and at public expense.
It was one of the innovations that former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, pushed through during her stewardship under former President Goodluck Jonathan in September 2011.
In a laudable continuation of good policy, President Muhammadu Buhari adopted the IPPIS to fight corruption.
In January 2020 Buhari directed that any Federal Government employee who refuses to register with the IPPIS should no longer be paid.
This was the cause of the strike that the Academic Union of the Nigerian Universities, ASUU, embarked upon before the coronavirus pandemic shutdowns began in March.
We still stand by the Federal Government in insisting that all personnel on its payroll must be on that scheme because of our conviction that it is easier and cheaper to nip corruption at source than to chase after thieves after they have taken the people’s money for their own use.
Apparently, the university lecturers are not the only ones seeking to torpedo the system.
The Federal Government has received several hints from within the armed forces about efforts being made by senior military officers to pull the military out of the scheme, which so far has been resisted.
The Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, OAGF, penultimate week raised alarm over alleged attempts by unnamed individuals to sabotage the IPPIS by capitalising on the delayed payment of the military’s April salary.
The OAGF disclosed that IPPIS has saved the Federal Government N361bn ($1bn), which is money that would have been pocketed by corrupt civil servants.
We want the OAGF to go beyond raising mere alarms and identify the sources of the sabotages for necessary action by the anti-graft agencies.
It is a good thing that the military payroll had since been put on the IPPIS. That way, we would not have to worry whether the senior officers are padding the payroll at the nation’s expense.
For too long, senior bureaucrats have been ripping off the country through the corruption of the payroll system.
It has forced Nigeria and its sub-national entities to spend more than 70 per cent of their annual budgets on recurrent expenditures.
While the nation remains deficient in infrastructure, top civil servants and retired generals own choice property both in Nigeria and abroad.
This must stop.