Speaking on Tuesday at the 20th-anniversary regional webinar organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other offences Commission (ICPC), Professor OSinbajo said the nation must at all times prioritize the fight against graft and all other corrupt practices.
In his speech titled, “Combating corruption and illicit financial flows: New measures and strategies.” and made available to journalists by his spokesperson, Laolu Akande, the Vice President warned that aside from the difficulties, many people will also get frustrated for standing against corruption.
“The fight against corruption is nuanced and hydra-headed, it is not going to get easier by the day, as a matter of fact, it will get more difficult by the day and many will become discouraged in standing up against corruption.
“But it is our duty both as individuals and institutions especially in developing countries where corruption has such a devastating effect, to ensure that we prioritize the fight against corruption and continually device new ways and new approaches even as the hydra-headed problem itself continue to manifest in different ways,” the Vice President stated.
He said secret corporate ownership and the whole issue of beneficial ownership is one major issue which the international community must work together to solve. Adding that for the developing world and especially in Africa, breaking the wall of secret corporate ownership is crucial because secrecy around corporate ownership is implicated in our underdevelopment.
BELOW IS THE FULL TEXT OF THE VICE PRESIDENT’S ADDRESS:
ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO SAN, VICE PRESIDENT, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY AFRICA REGIONAL WEBINAR OF THE ICPC THEMED COMBATING CORRUPTION AND ILLICIT FINANCIAL FLOWS: NEW MEASURES AND STRATEGIES
Let me say first, how very pleased I am to be a part of this celebration, joining the ICPC Board, Management and staff to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this important national and regional institution.
20 years have passed since we passed the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act and set up the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission as the first anti-corruption agency, in Nigeria and possibly in the region. This was three years before the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) was adopted, and five years before UNCAC came into effect. So, in many ways, you are pioneers of the anti-corruption struggle in our region and indeed in very many parts of the world.
The three-fold mandate of ICPC remains relevant today as it was 20 years ago namely:
*enforcement of laws against corruption,
*prevention of acts of corruption and
*public education and enlightenment against corruption.
Our government has supported the fulfillment of this statutory mandate first by demonstrating the political will and support for anti-corruption measures from the Number one citizen of Nigeria, the President himself. We have seen that demonstrable political will and that political will has afforded all our anti-corruption agencies the latitude to do their work without interference.
Secondly, by taking measures that reinforce the prevention mandate of ICPC: For example the enforcement of the TSA policy; strict application of BVN which is the biometric information required for opening of bank accounts and fro maintaining bank accounts; strengthening of the e-government system comprising GIFMIS and IPPIS which are electronic platforms for managing human resource material in the public service and also for budgeting purposes; the launching late last year of the open treasury portal through which payments for works, goods, and services may be monitored globally, and by encouraging the use of the Freedom of Information Act by civil society to elicit information from government agencies.
The public education and citizen engagement mandate is supported by the government’s encouragement of a vibrant role for citizens, the media and civil society in the anti-corruption crusade.
Besides, both the ICPC, & the EFCC have held several public participation campaigns to encourage civic participation in the anti-corruption struggle.
The theme of this webinar COMBATING CORRUPTION AND ILLICIT FINANCIAL FLOWS: NEW MEASURES AND STRATEGIES, I think, again just reminds us that corruption remains a scourge to our development aspirations and has become for us in the developing world, an existential issue.
Over the years, massive public resources and assets have been directly stolen, diverted, deliberately misapplied to gratify corrupt tendencies, stashed in foreign jurisdictions or mired in and susceptible to pilferage by the inequitable and unjust international economic system that continues to undermine the social and economic development aspirations of poor countries especially from Africa.
Without effectively combating corruption and IFFs and promoting international cooperation for asset recovery and asset return, Africa cannot achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 16 of the SDGs is devoted to corruption. Specifically, Target 16.4 commits that: “By 2030, significantly reduce illicit financial flows and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime.”
Both the UN General Assembly and the African Union have committed to measures to fight corruption and stem IFFs. UNCAC and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption have remained the touchstone of the fight against corruption and IFFs. Other initiatives include the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the AU Assembly Special Declaration on Illicit Financial Flows. More recently, the UN General Assembly Resolution 74/206 of 19 December 2019 commits to the promotion of international cooperation to combat Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) and strengthen good practices on asset return to foster sustainable development.
Nigeria has demonstrated leadership in the advocacy for collective efforts to stem IFFs from Africa and has also been at the forefront of advocacy for stemming IFF and promoting international cooperation for asset recovery and asset return at the UN General Assembly. As the AU Champion on Anti-Corruption, President Buhari in his report to the ASSEMBLY OF THE UNION, Thirty-Second Ordinary Session and at the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly, affirmed Nigeria’s commitment to continue to “advocate for the facilitation of recovery of illicit financial assets.”
Towards this end, Nigeria proposed the Draft Common African Position on Asset Return (CAPAR) at the 36th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the AU in February 2020 at which the CAPAR was adopted. I am aware that Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman ICPC was a member of the Working Group that produced the CAPAR.
One more matter of concern that the international community must work together to solve is the matter of secret corporate ownership and the whole issue of beneficial ownership.
For us in the developing world and especially in Africa, breaking the wall of secret corporate ownership is crucial because secrecy around corporate ownership is implicated in our underdevelopment. Although anonymous companies are not always illegal, nevertheless secrecy provides a convenient cover for criminality and corruption.
Our experience in Nigeria as in other developing countries is that anonymous corporate ownership covers a multitude of sins including conflict of interests, corruption, tax evasion, money laundering, and even terrorism financing.
At the May 2016 London Anti-Corruption Summit, President Muhammadu Buhari made a commitment to establish a public register of the beneficial owners of all companies operating in Nigeria. Following that commitment, Nigeria joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in December 2016 and subsequently submitted a National Action Plan prioritizing the establishment of an all-encompassing and publicly accessible register.
Nigeria is in the process of amending its corporate law to implement these measures and mandate the disclosure of beneficial interest in a company’s shares and prescribe punitive measures for failure to disclose.
We are mindful of the challenges dogging advocacy for stemming IFFs, promotion of asset recovery and return to victim countries, and enforcement of beneficial ownership disclosure not just in our country but globally.
We note for example, the resistance of some countries to stemming illicit financial flows, curbing tax evasion, support asset return to countries of origin and we note that laws passed in some developed countries to mandate beneficial ownership disclosure do not set examples for best practice as they do not cover territories and dependencies where most of the stolen assets from developed countries end up.
I sincerely hope this regional webinar will advance the advocacy further and bring up innovative solutions to these internationally shared concerns.
Let me conclude by saying there is no magic bullet to ending corruption, stemming IFFs or promoting asset recovery and return. We simply must work hard at it and be determined to succeed. We must make corruption expensive for those who engage in it and send the unequivocal message that corruption simply does not pay.
We must also make all members of the international community see the benefit of shared prosperity and inclusive growth and development. It is the unenviable but noble task of ICPC and other anti-corruption agencies to make corruption unattractive to its disciples and facilitate new approaches to stemming IFFS and promoting asset recovery and return.
As you ruminate on the key issues to dominate the UN General Assembly Special Session on Corruption in 2021, I urge you to come up with concrete proposals for Nigeria to take to the UN and also for all of our colleagues in the region, to take to the United Nations in order to begin to positively shape policy in a way and manner that best promotes the interest of our country and region.
Domestically we must also be prepared to change, to some extent, our tactics in the fight against corruption. Listening to Edward Kallon (The UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria who spoke earlier), I am convinced that there are many practical steps that can be taken.
We must democratize the fight against corruption. Many of our citizens are interested in the fight against grand corruption. Grand corruption as you know cripples the economy. But they also want to see action in what would be regarded as petty corruption – in their interfaces with government officials either in the search for certifications, approvals of any kind, licenses, and all of that. Many want to see that corruption at that level is tackled effectively. And I think that we must begin to look at innovative ways of doing so.
Secondly, we must protect, even more, whistle-blowers – persons who come forward with information against corruption. We must protect those who are ready to fight against corruption and who are prepared to do so without necessarily disclosing their identities and even those who are ready to disclose their identities.
The thing that we must take note of is that corruption fights back. And it is fighting back and it has the resources to do so. In recent times, one of the chief ways that we are seeing more frequently is the use of unscrupulous individuals who are paid to use social media platforms to make outrageous allegations against persons perceived to be fighting corruption. The technique is not new, the idea is to tie everybody with the same tar so that you cannot recognize the truly corrupt or the truly corrupt activity, and the genuine whistle-blowing is discredited as a result. And because our court system is slow, they count on the possibility that these victims may not pursue litigation or prosecution: you must devise a new legal strategy to ensure that this dirty trick not only fail but are penalized.
The fight against corruption is nuanced and hydra-headed, it is not going to get easier by the day, as a matter of fact, it will get more difficult by the day and many will become discouraged in standing up against corruption. But it is our duty both as individuals and institutions especially in developing countries where corruption has such a devastating effect, to ensure that we prioritize the fight against corruption and continually device new ways and new approaches even as the hydra-headed problem itself continue to manifest in different ways.
I am happy to note that the ICPC has creditably discharged itself of its mandate in the past twenty years. This is no doubt due to the solid leadership it has enjoyed from inception through the first Board led by the late Hon Justice Mustapha Akanbi, then Hon. Justice Olayinka Ayoola, and then Mr. Expo Nta and the current 4th Board led by Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, and the tireless effort of its management and staff.
I wish you all a happy 20th anniversary celebration. Government looks forward to the recommendations of your conference towards improving the fight against and ultimately defeating corruption.
Thank you very much God bless you all
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President
14th July 2020
CGI Babandede Bows Out With Glorious Light, Global Acclaim
The 11th Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammad Babandede, MFR, was pulled out from Service Monday in grand style, razzmatazz and pageantry, after a transparent and diligent service to his country – Nigeria.
The occasion took place at the NIS Parade Ground, Sauka, Abuja, and was graced by the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who was Special Guest of Honour; Governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Muhammad Badaru Abubakar, MON, mni; Service Chiefs, Inspector-General of Police, IGP Alkali Usman Baba and other heads of sister security agencies. Also at the occasion were top traditional rulers, Captains of industry, community leaders, youth groups, women groups and members of the diplomatic corps.
Speaking during the ceremony, the Minister of Interior, Aregbesola, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, paid glowing tributes to CGI Babandede for rebranding and repositioning the Nigeria Immigration Service as a top class migration management agency globally.
Continuing, Ogbeni Aregbesola, enjoined Babandede’s successor and NIS management to effectively harness and utilize the ultra-modern technological infrastructure established by Babandede for continued policing and surveillance of Nigeria’s borders, adding that the innovation is world-class and must be properly maintained at all times.
The Minister of Interior poured encomiums on the out-going CGI, applauded the gigantic transformational milestones and legacies left behind by the outgoing CGI
In the same vein, the Governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Muhammad Abubakar Badaru lauded the sterling leadership qualities of CGI Babandede, patriotism and monumental achievements of the outgoing CGI, noting that he is a shining ambassador of Jigawa State, whose footprints are written on the sands of time in building a harmonious relationship with sister agencies; was unparalleled and must be exploited to the fullest for enhanced productivity and service delivery.
He enjoined other chief executive officers to borrow a leaf from the mercurial service record of CGI Babandede who has made Jigawa State proud.
Meanwhile, other stakeholders are also unanimous that CGI Babandede will continue to be a reference point, in the annals of efficient service delivery, transparency and patriotism in Nigeria, alluding that he has changed the narrative and paradigm shift of the NIS in compliance with best international practices.
Also, a prominent civil society group, Guild of Civil Societies and Media Executives for Equity, Justice & Transparency (GOCMEJ), was full of praises for CGI Babandede for redefining service delivery, accountability, transparency and patriotism in Nigeria’s public service. The organization, which is an amalgamation of over 350 CSOs, NGOs and media executives, recommended the outgoing CGI for higher national office, stating that his invaluable service record must not be sacrificed on the altar of officialdom. Emphasizing that CGI Babandede is brimming with resourcefulness, youthful energy and zeal for service to humanity and his fatherland.
NDDC: GPMI Hails Sen. Akpabio , Says Detractors Should Leave Him Alone
The Global Peace Movement International UK has described the Niger Delta Minister, Sen. Godswill Akpabio as a man who claimed fifteen story building without a steer case.
The group also said Senator Godswill Akpabio is a proven performer. Since he became the Minister of Niger Delta, he has been working diligently to develop the region. It is on record that massive work is going on in the region in different sectors.
In a press statement signed by the media officer, Augustine Aminu (KSM) on behalf the President General of Global Peace Movement International UK, Dr. Mike Uyi who currently lost his sister, Pastor Rose Uyi.
He said, prior to the minister’s assumption of office at the Niger Delta Affairs ministry, activities at the ministry were in dire need for reformation. Therefore, it took the frugality in his resource management and political determination to turn around the entire gamut of the Niger Delta community for the better within his short stay in office.
According to Uyi, the mandate of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs is to formulate and execute plans, programmes, and other initiatives as well as coordinate the intervention activities of agencies, communities, donors, and other relevant stakeholders involved in the development of the region. Akpabio has promised never to deviate from the mandate.
“NDDC was meant to address the development challenges in the Niger Delta region but the commission has only enriched a few people in the past leaving the mission and vision not actualized. Faceless contractors have pocketed funds for projects and were never executed”.
“Akpabio is tested and trusted. As commissioner, senator and governor, he performed excellently. Unarguably, Akpabio is among the ministers that would perform very well in this administration and should be allowed to concentrate on transforming NDDC. GPMI believes that he will do greater things if given a higher national assignments”.
Under the supervision of Senator Akpabio, a forensic audit was carried out to unravel corruption and bad corporate governance in the commission.
“The Minister as we know him has been a detribalised and generous individual. His personal aides and workers hail from different states in the Niger Delta region and the country. Besides, the minister is known for presenting opportunities to people based only on their competencies”.
“He has carried all stakeholders in the Niger Delta along and that is why the region has remained peaceful since his emergence as a minister”.
Less Than 3 Percent Of Kaduna Residents Have Health Insurance – KADCHMA
Less than 3 percent of people out of about 9 million are covered by medical insurance under the Kaduna State Contributory Health Management Agency (KADCHMA) it has been revealed.
The revelation was made during a stakeholders meeting organized by the Kaduna Maternal Accountability Mechanism (KADMAM) with Partnership to Engage and Learn (PERL-EC) and Lafiya Programme.
Speaking on the matter, the representative of KADCHMA and Director of Operations, Dr Juliana Bungon said that apart from the state government employees only about 2000 individuals from the informal sector are registered with the scheme.
She added that getting the informal sector to participate in the scheme had been difficult because they are not organized as the organized informal sector who are part and parcel of the trade unions.
She however added that the state government is making arrangement with farmers in the rural area to batter harvested food items with relevant agency so that they can be captured in the scheme.
” we are also going to vigorously involve cooperatives, desk officers in local governments as well as embark on massive sensitization with media to drive home the matter, ” she said.
Speaking earlier, Mal Mustapha Juma’are said that people must be part and parcel of the scheme so that the issue of out of pocket expenditure which hitherto had been a stumbling block to Nigerians resident in Kaduna state can be minimized.
Mal Juma’are who frowned at the paltry percentage of residents who have embraced the scheme called on participants to help in galvanizing the populace so that they can embrace it and make it their own.
Also speaking, the Co-Chair of Open Government Partnership (OGP) Hadiza Umar said that action in the area of sensitizing and enrolling the people of Kaduna state is necessary in order to curb or reduce the number of people dying daily from treatable diseases.
She said that Kaduna State will remain open in all its activities as she urged participants and stakeholders to share the information especially in the informal sector.
Mr Abel Adejor, on behalf of PERL-EC and Lafiya programme said that the aim of the meeting is for associations and organizations that are in the informal sector to be properly mobilized with adequate information for them to key into the scheme.
He further said that the civil societies and Non Governmental Organizations (NGO) will continue to give support to program for it to succeed in the state.
The meeting was made possible by the KADMAM in collaboration with KADCHMA and support from PERL-EC and Lafiya programme in partnership with UKAID.
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