Nuhu Ribadu, former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), says Nigerian governors must make full disclosure of what is spent on security to check financial mismanagement.
The former Petroleum Revenue Task Force said this on Friday during a convocation lecture at the Federal University, Dutsin Ma, Katsina State.
Ribadu said the huge security votes available to governors and other public officers without accountability is disturbing.
He said: “To the credit of current management of the EFCC, and the political leadership under President Muhammadu Buhari, otherwise unexplored or less investigated areas have now been brought under scrutiny.
“For a long time, security, both in concrete and abstract terms, has been used to conceal expenditures that are largely fraudulent or dubious. If we learn lessons at all from the famous arms probe of the last three years, it is that not everything written in the name of security actually gets spent for the intended purpose.
“We must insist that for accountability and transparency, Nigerians are told what monies are budgeted for our security apparatuses and for what purpose the monies are spent.
“The practice of political leaders spending humongous amounts of money in the name of security votes should also be checked.
“For example, I see no reason for governors and some other office holders to be expending billions of naira without budgetary provisions or accountability under the vague code of security.
“These are some of the areas that need opening up as a way of demonstrating that no one is beyond reproach. Accountability should be a no-holds-barred affair.”
He pleaded with the Buhari administration to sustain the political will in fighting corruption by stepping firmly on more toes.
He said: “It is important to not only continue to demonstrate the political will but also take steps to intensify it. This government has started well in this regard.
“It can only continue to succeed in the fight against corruption in the eyes of the public if it firmly steps on toes, ensure corrupt people are made to face justice and those who blow the whistle on corrupt acts are fully protected from all kinds of victimization.”
Ribadu demanded more cleansing of the Judiciary for the anti-graft war to have more impact.
He added: “A major step towards attaining sustained result in the fight against corruption is by first cleaning up our entire justice sector. There would only be limited or no success in the anti-corruption campaign if the justice system is not properly sanitized to shoulder that important responsibility.
“Some steps have been taken in the past in this regard, but going forward, a more holistic and strategic approach has to be adopted to ensure maximum impact and meaningful result.
“Every individual within the chain of the justice sector needs to be above board, those who cannot uphold the basic tenets of integrity needed for such a job should be shoved aside.”
Ribadu, however, warned that political hangers-on should not be allowed to use corruption cases for trade-offs and personal gains.
He said: “Public support for the fight against corruption is necessary for its success, but the public too needs to be proven so that those in charge are equally serious about the campaign. We need constant engagement with the civil society and demonstration of seriousness in the anti-corruption campaign.
“This confidence-building is what would garner support and lead to the ultimate success of the whole thing, namely; change in attitude towards corruption and citizens’ takeover of the fight as their own battle.
“One other way of building this confidence, also, is proper management and utilization of recovered proceeds of corruption.
“One fatal action that damages public confidence is political interference. Fighting corruption is a serious business that should be insulated from politics at all times. Anything short of that rubbishes the whole effort.”