… the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) 2nd National Summit on Diminishing Corruption and Launch of the National Ethics and Integrity Policy.
This year marks two significant hallmarks in the history of our country. A few days from now, we will, by the grace of God, be celebrating Nigeria’s 60th Anniversary as an independent sovereign nation.
This summit also commemorates the 20th Anniversary of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC). The Commission emerged as part of the measures that successive administrations in Nigeria have put in place over the years to fight corruption.
As military Head of State, I fought corruption headlong and held public officers who abused their office or misused public funds to account. Furthermore, I introduced the War Against Indiscipline (WAI), one of whose cardinal objectives was promotion of our cherished culture of ethical conduct, integrity and hard work.
I recognized in 1984 as I do even more now that corruption poses a clear danger to Nigeria, so, we cannot relent in efforts to eradicate it from our society. As I have often reminded Nigerians, “If we do not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria.”
In my Inaugural Speech in 2015, I affirmed the determination of this administration to rebuild and reform the public service to become more effective and serviceable. I charged public servants to apply themselves with integrity to stabilize the system and solicited the cooperation of the Legislative arm to maintain their brief of making laws and carrying out oversight functions.
In the same speech, I called for the reform of the judicial system and for the judiciary to act with dispatch in cases, especially cases on corruption, serious financial crimes and abuse of office.
I believe that it is when the three arms and the three levels of government work together that government will be enabled to serve the country. We will also see the positive impact of our efforts reaching all and sundry across the country.
Bearing this critical factor in mind, I am happy that the theme of this year’s Summit by ICPC is TOGETHER AGAINST CORRUPTION. I am aware that this theme derives from the theme of our 60th anniversary celebration. Together as a nation, as a people, the three arms and three tiers of government working together, we can attack corruption and realize the vast potentials of our country.
I said in my speech at the 2018 NBA Annual General Conference, that one of the challenges we face in delivering the expectations of our citizens is how to transform our society from one in which impunity in the management of national resources is the norm to one in which a culture of accountability and transparency prevails.
We need to deploy resources to address our common needs rather than the greed of a callous few. We need a corruption-free public sector to achieve this transformation, we need a judicial system that dispenses justice without undue delay and technicality.
We need laws and legal system to be reformed to deliver justice to every citizen without regard to status and finally we need ethical re-orientation of the people to achieve this goal. When we work together against corruption we can defeat it.
I want to commend the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the ICPC for organizing this summit and including in the program an opportunity for the three arms of government to indicate their roles in meeting the aspiration of Nigerians to have a corruption-free society.
I am particularly pleased by the recognition and participation of young Nigerians and non-state actors especially the media and civil society at this event because nobody must be left behind and all hands must be on deck in the fight against corruption.
I wish to reiterate the role of preventive measures and public education and enlightenment against corruption. This government through the Open Treasury initiative, TSA, GIFMIS, BVN and many more is implementing different corruption prevention measures to track and retain government revenue for the use of the people.
I commend the ICPC for its enforcement and prevention measures including system review of capital and personnel budget, regular analysis of the open treasury platform, enforcement action against diversion and mismanagement of public funds, working with FIRS to increase the number of companies and persons within the tax net, tracking of constituency project budget utilization for the benefit of ordinary Nigerians and its monitoring of implementation of budget by the Executive in key sectors like Agriculture sector.
The ICPC System Studies and Review, Ethics and Integrity Compliance Scorecard of MDAs are excellent preventive measures for detection of early warning signs of vulnerability of MDAs to corruption and a way of assisting government take note of MDAs that are prone to corruption and deserve closer scrutiny of government and law enforcement agencies.
I note that ICPC is documenting its work, achievements and recommendations to government. I am happy to present the book marking its 20th anniversary titled ICPC AND THE WAR AGAINST CORRUPTION IN NIGERIA: REFLECTIONS FOR A NEW VISION and six other publications including the Nigeria Corruption Index; Constituency and Executive Projects Tracking Initiative Interim Report 2020; the Ethics and Integrity Compliance Scorecard of MDAs 2020; Accountability for Security Votes; and Eradicating Electoral Corruption and Vote Buying.
I am also happy to recognize winners of ICPC Youth Music and Essay Competitions on promotion of anti-corruption values. The music and essay competitions organized by ICPC show the true character and grit of Nigerian youths.
I urge them to seize the moment and also stand together with one voice against corruption. Let me use this opportunity to recognize and commend OPEYEMI PETER ADEBOYE as winner of the anti-corruption music award; CHIKEZIE FAVOUR winner of Junior Secondary School competition and MATILDA DANIELS winner of the Senior Secondary school competition.
As I mentioned earlier, the importance of the public service to our anti-corruption effort. I am therefore extremely delighted to recognize and present the 2020 Public Service Integrity Awards to two honest public servants who have demonstrated the will to look away from graft and corruption.
CSP FRANCIS OSAGIE ERHABOR of the Nigeria Police and HAMZA ADAMU BUWAI of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment are both recognized and acknowledged as worthy Nigerian public servants who make us proud.
I congratulate all the awardees. Even though COVID-19 has not permitted the kind of ceremony that you deserve, Nigeria is proud of you. You are a pride to your families, institutions and to Nigeria.
These public service awards remind us of the need for value re-orientation and revival of ethics and integrity in national life. I am happy that the ICPC, in collaboration with the Office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation and National Orientation Agency worked together to prepare and present the National Ethics and Integrity Policy to the Federal Executive Council as part of the commemorative activities for Nigeria at 60.
FEC adopted this policy on the 19th of August, 2020. I commend the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, ICPC and NOA for bringing to fruition this important priority objective of this administration.
The National Ethics and Integrity Policy projects government’s aspiration for rediscovery of our cherished traditional ethical values of honesty, integrity, hard-work, truth and justice, unity, faith, and consideration for one another irrespective of status or background. Corruption and corruptive tendencies are abhorrent to these core ethical values.
We must all join hands together to fight corruption and return to our traditional values of honesty and integrity. I hereby use the opportunity of this Summit to launch the National Ethics and Integrity Policy as a fresh roadmap to return Nigeria to these critical national values.
Finally let me use this opportunity to congratulate all Nigerians on our 60th anniversary and ICPC on its 20th anniversary. I urge all Nigerians participating in this Summit to come up with recommendations on ways to further enforce our laws and prevent corruption in the public sector in Nigeria.
Thank you and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!