Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday disclosed that the Federal Government is ready to deploy new measures of dealing with the wider problem of systemic corruption in the country which directly affects the vast majority of ordinary Nigerians.
He said the initial policy of the present government was to tackle grand corruption, which involves the stealing of huge public resources directly from the treasury.
According to the Vice President, such kind of corruption existed at the behest of the highest levels of executive authority, with the stealing of budgeted funds through various schemes.
The Vice President explained that: “We are now poised to deal with the wider problem of systemic corruption, especially where the average person interacts with government. It is that level of corruption that affects our people the most – where the average person is doing some business or is seeking some favour or some discretion from government.”
Osinbajo listed areas where corruption is affecting ordinary Nigerians to include, the issuance of contracts, licenses and other government approvals.
“There is no reason why any Nigerian should have to pay bribes to law enforcement agents for obtaining drivers licenses or passports, or to clear goods at our ports,” he added.
The Vice President, therefore, called for more collaboration among government agencies and interest groups in the fight against corruption.
He also said that a new national re-orientation and attitudinal change would be required for corruption to be effectively tackled in the country.
According to him, “Our struggle against corruption is one for the soul and substance of our nation.
“The battle must be a collective one, corruption fights back with venom, guile and force. It is relentless and unashamed we who fight it must meet it with greater resolve and force.
“We can only win by working together with a common vision.”
Osinbajo said corruption has been Nigeria’s most devastating problem for many years and has continued to hinder development.
He referred to a recent PriceWaterhouse Coopers’ study, which concluded that Nigeria’s 2030 GDP could be up to $534 billion or more if it reduces corruption, pointing out that the country’s high revenue could not translate to development if corruption is not checked.
Osinbajo explained further that it was for this reason that one of the first bodies to be set up in 2015 by the President Buhari was the PACAC.
According to him, even though the Buhari administration has done much since 2015 in the fight against corruption, there is still a long way to go to stem it.
The Vice President said the policy of the administration has been to tackle grand corruption first, using various strategies.
“The enforcement of TSA, the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit, and even ensuring that most civil servants are on the IPPIS electronic platform have helped greatly to control official theft of public funds.
“The judiciary also moved the needle in recent times….
“This opens the door for forfeiture of assets that the purported owner cannot explain, whether or not an allegation of corruption is made.”
In his address of welcome, the Chairman of PACAC, Prof. Itse Sagay, said the anti-corruption information and intelligence roundtable organised by the committee on June 1, 2016, recommended short-term and long-term approaches for the successful collaboration among anti-corruption agencies.
Osinbajo added that the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) structure would be adopted for the sharing of information and intelligence on corruption in the short-term.