The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) says it has uncovered gross abuse of personnel budget and inflation as well as padding of nominal role by some Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) amounting to N18.62 billion.
The Chairman of the ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, made the disclosure at the National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector and presentation of integrity awards, organized by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in collaboration with ICPC, in Abuja on Tuesday.
According to him, the discovery of the scam followed the launching of the commission System Study and Review of MDA Practices, involving over 300 MDAs.
He said: “As at the time we went to press we had covered about 300 MDAs and the amount inflated was about N12billion.
“As at today your Excellency we have discovered additional N6b making a total of N18.624b restrained by ICPC.
“The exercise is still ongoing but we can confidently report that culprit MDAs are mostly academic and health institutions. For example preliminary findings show the following –
“University of Benin Teaching Hospital N1.1billion; Federal Medical Center, Bayelsa N915million; Nnamdi Azikwe University N907million; University of Jos N896million; University College Hospital Ibadan N701million; Usman Dan Fodio University N636million and University of Ibadan N558million.
“These institutions and all those implicated will be given the opportunity to explain themselves however, while investigations are on to confirm any credible explanations they may have, we have alerted the Minister of Finance of our findings and appropriate steps are being taken to ensure that implicated MDAs will not be able to spend the excess built into their personnel budget.
“Let me note with regret sir that in the 2017-2018 fiscal year the balances recorded for personnel were wrongfully utilized by MDAs for other purposes due to lack of pro activity by late enforcement and related agencies. That sum amounted to N18.39b.’’
In light of these findings, the ICPC Chairman stressed the need for full implementation of the presidential directive that MDAs not on IPPIS should not be paid as the commission’s review had shown that most of the guilty MDAS were not on IPPIS.
He added: “In a similar vein, we found that some MDAs spent N9.2billion of capital funds on overhead related items contrary to extant financial regulations.
“We found to our surprise that some MDAs fail to remit tax and divert pension and NHIS deductions for unrelated payments thus aggravating the sufferings of other Nigerians.
“Some MDAs abused the e-payment policy of government thus making payments through staff accounts instead of to actual beneficiaries. Most egregious in the current cycle of review is the Federal Ministry of Water Resources where N3.3billion was paid out in about a month through the accounts of staff.
“ICPC arrested 59 directors from the ministry and investigation is ongoing.’’
The chairman expressed the hope that the conversation at the two-day summit would lead to concrete suggestions towards reducing these “anomalous practices and processes that fuel corruption and undermine the development aspirations of the country’’.
He pledged that the ICPC would take enforcement actions including recovery of diverted funds, name and shame and prosecution of the most egregious cases of infractions while putting some MDAs on a watch list due to their vulnerability and propensity to corruption.
“We recommend that diversion or non-payment or remittance of tax, pension, health insurance or any statutory deduction should attract dismissal of head of the agency and immediate prosecution.
“Should government accept this recommendation ICPC will furnish government with list of defaulting MDAs,’’ he said.
Edited by Ismail Abdulaziz
School feeding programme gulps over N500m during Lockdown – Minister
The Federal Government expended about N523.3 million on school feeding programme during the lockdown against the coronavirus pandemic.
Farouk made the revelation against the rumours and speculations going around one of our key interventions of the government – the Home Grown School Feeding Programme.
She said that the programmed was modified and implemented in three states following a March 29th, Presidential directive.
“It is critical at this juncture to provide details that will help puncture the tissue of lies being peddled in the public space.
“The provision of ‘Take Home Rations’, under the modified Home Grown School Feeding programme, was not a sole initiative of the MHADMSD.
“The ministry, in obeying the Presidential directive, went into consultations with state governments through the state Governor’s Forum, following which it was resolved that ‘take-home rations’, remained the most viable option for feeding children during the lockdown.
“So, it was a joint resolution of the ministry and the state governments to give out take-home rations.
“The stakeholders also resolved that we would start with the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states, as pilot cases,’’ the minister said.
According to her, each takes home ration was valued at N4,200 and that the figure was arrived at with proper consultation.
“So, each household is assumed to have three children.
“Based on the original design of the Home Grown School Feeding programme, long before it was domiciled in the ministry, every child on the programme receives a meal a day.
“The meal costs N70 per child.
“When you take 20 school days per month, it means a child eats food worth N1,400 per month.
“Three children would then eat food worth N4,200 per month and that was how we arrived at the cost of the ‘take-home ration’.
“The agreement was that the federal government will provide the funding while the states will implement.
“To ensure transparency in the process, we partnered with the World Food Programme (WFP) as technical partners.’’
“TrackaNG monitored and gave daily updates validating the programme.
“In the FCT, 29,609 households were impacted, 37,589 households in Lagos and 60,391 in Ogun, making a total of 124,589 households impacted between May 14, and July 6.
“If 124,589 households received take-home rations valued at N4,200, the amount will be N523,273,800.
Edited By: Bola Akingbehin/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
COVID-19 an opportunity to repent of our sins – Bishop Kaigama
Kaigama said this at his first Interaction Session with newsmen Abuja, since he became the substantive Catholic Archbishop of the Archdiocese.
He said: “God is giving us a second chance to begin again. If we sincerely repent and turn to God, just as He forgave the people of Nineveh, He will forgive and heal us.
“We should not be blind to our personal sins and the sins of the world.
“Let us turn the positive experiences being garnered during this pandemic, like the sense of solidarity, selflessness and community into policy and practice and be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.
“The all too familiar bad news about social maladies such as embezzlement of public funds, kidnaping, banditry, militancy unemployment, cybercrime, immortality, violence and killings are still with us.
“We must ask the question whether all these leave our youths with any decent future.
“We can certainly do something differently and positively for Nigeria and Nigerians. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Let us all take that little but significant step forward.’’
According to him, COVID-19 has led us to the realisation that we are not masters of our fate and that ultimately, our lives are in God’s hands, which means far better hands than our own.
“In the midst of all the harshness the pandemic poses, perhaps we might feel a gentle nudge that will help dispel the illusion that we are in control.
“God wants us to draw lessons out of the evil of COVID-19.
“Nigeria is blessed with enormous natural and human resources and should be very ready at such critical times to provide and efficiently distribute palliative to the poor and the needy.
“Our politics must be further refined, to include high principles and values, and must become an offer of self to serve the people.
“The social cancer of corruption must give way for Nigeria to speed up her journey to join the league of developed nations.
“With the advent of pandemic, it became obvious that our medical facilities are highly insufficient to cater for emergencies like this; they are also below standard and need to be upgraded.
“Ideally, well equipped and functional medical facilities should be available and accessible in all the 774 Local Government Areas of the nation.
“We must resolve, as a country, to make access to health care possible for all.’’
In the same vein, he said the educational facilities in many of the public schools and institutions were not in line with global best practices.
The archbishop said that COVID-19 pandemic had forced schools globally to switch to online learning, saying that Nigeria must not be left behind.
“Education should be given a high priority, even though educating our students in the present circumstance will not be easy.
“It is good news that government is allowing the exit classes to resume and to sit for their final exams; all precautionary measures against COVID-19 must, however, be put in place.
“I believe strongly that the needed funds could come from the generous donations received, part sacrifice of salaries lavishly used by political parties before and during elections, recovered “looted’’ funds, etc.
“These could be used to improve or create structures for our students in public, private and faith based schools so that their academic life is not truncated.
“We cannot afford the adverse consequences of leaving our students idle for such an undetermined period of time,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Kaigama, who succeeded John Cardinal Onaiyekan, resumed his pastoral assignment in March during the lockdown from Archdiocese of Jos, where he had served for close to 20 years.
Kaigama has also celebrated his 39th anniversary as a Catholic Priest and clocked 62 years on Friday – July 31st, being a feast day of his Patron Saints, St Ignatius of Loyola.
AGF restates commitment to enhance national cyber security
Mr Ahmed Idris, Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), said this during the oversight visit by members of the Senate Committee on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Cybercrime in Abuja.
Idris disclosed that the office had engaged in an immense effort at protecting public fund using designated infrastructures.
According to the AGF, in order to mitigate risk, 99 per cent of its personnel are ICT compliance, and the office had partners relevant agencies to train and retrain the staff so as to be updated on Cyber security.
Idris also added that security and integrity background checks were always carried out by the agencies saddled with such tasks.
“OAGF also liaises with National Information Technology Department Agency for infrastructure and equipment specification approval,” he said.
Idris further said that the salary account on IPPIS platform was 793, 580 while Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on the platform was 602 among others.
In his response, the Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Yakubu Oseni, commended the management of OAGF for the measures put in place to mitigate risk and enhance cyber security.
Oseni noted that the oversight visit was inline with its statutory responsibility as enshrined in section 88 and 89 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.
He said that the committee was created for the need to mobilise the Nigerian system to meet up with the World of Information and Communication Technology and the promotion of cyber security.
“So, we are here on fact finding visit to ascertain the level of ICT compliance of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and we feel that we should start from all important Treasury House of the nation.
“And we have seen their ICT facilities and their level of preparedness in terms of cyber security, and we are satisfied with what is on ground.
“It shows that the management is up and doing, so we encourage him not to relent in his efforts to ensure cyber security, because hackers are always working 24 hours to make sure that they achieve their aim,” Oseni said.
Edited By: Modupe Adeloye/Felix Ajide (NAN)
Plateau govt. bans Eid prayers as COVID-19 cases spike
The Plateau government has banned Eid prayers, as COVID-19 cases reached 982 in the state.
The governor also banned other activities associated with sallah festivities, including visits to recreational centres, such as Wildlife Parks.
“Residents should strictly use face masks, especially children conveying food and other items to neighbours,” he said.
Lalong said that this had become necessary, following the increasing number of cases in the state coupled with the preparations for the Eid-el-Kabir celebrations, to prevent further spread of the disease.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Federal Government had declared July 30 and July 31 as public holidays to allow Muslims celebrate the festival.
The governor, who was represented by Prof. Danladi Atu, Secretary to the task force who is also the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), urged the elderly to stay at home, as they were the most vulnerable.
Lalong also reminded the residents that the 10 pm. to 4 am. curfew declared by the Federal Government was still in place and that it would be strictly enforced.
He said that the state had high cases of COVID-19 because it had three testing centres: National Veterinary Research Institute Vom; Plateau Specialist Hospital and Jos University Teaching Hospital.
“As of July 28, we have tested a total of 14,816 persons, with 10,922 results received so far, out of which 982 tested positive for the virus.
“We are waiting for 3,894 results from all the tests conducted,” he said, adding that 221 patients were on admission in the four treatment centres in the state.
The task force chairman further said that 446 persons had so far been discharged and 19 deaths recorded, while 454 cases were currently being observed.
Lalong said that 58 health workers were also infected by the disease, including 10 doctors, 15 nurses, three pharmacists and one lab technician, among others.
“About 4,422 staffers of the 54 ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) have been screened, out of whom 174 of tested positive. The test is ongoing.
“This makes Plateau the first state in the country to commence mass testing for civil servants,” he said.
While wishing the Muslims successful Eid-el Kabir celebrations, Lalong urged them and other residents to adhere strictly to the COVID-19 precautionary measures in order to prevent further spread of the deadly disease.
Edited By: Joe Idika and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq