1. Let me start by commending the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, the Chairman of the ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye and the Board of the ICPC, for organizing the National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector.
2. This summit is a reflection of one of the three key priorities of our administration, which is to enhance the fight against corruption, as contained in the government’s governance Road Map, the Nigeria Economic Recovery & Growth Plan 2017-2020 (ERGP).
3. As I have repeatedly said, corruption is the cause of many major problems in our country. It is a catalyst for poverty, insecurity, weak educational system, poor health facilities and services and many other ills of our society.
4. This government is working hard to overcome such ills. Corruption generally and public sector corruption, in particular, inhibits the ability of government to deliver infrastructure and basic services to the people.
5. That is why I have reiterated on many occasions that corruption is an existential threat to Nigeria. Corruption is furthermore a major threat to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals and the socio-economic transformation we are all working hard to bring about in Nigeria.
6. I have been following with keen interest activities of the ICPC since I inaugurated the new Board in February this year. I am aware of major enforcement and preventive initiatives of the current Board of the ICPC such as the System Study Review, tracking of Zonal Intervention Projects, otherwise called Constituency Projects, your collaboration with the National Social Investment Office and other measures that you are pursuing.
7. It is on record that in the past ten years One trillion naira (N1trillion) has been appropriated for constituency projects yet the impact of such huge spending on the lives and welfare of ordinary Nigerians can hardly be seen.
8. The first phase report of tracking these projects by ICPC confirms our worst fears that people at the grassroots have not benefited in terms commensurate with the huge sums appropriated for constituency projects since inception.
9. I am therefore delighted that through the effort of ICPC some contractors are returning to site to execute projects hitherto abandoned and that project sponsors are being held to account. The ICPC has my full support and the support of this government to hold fully to account contractors, complicit public servants and project sponsors who divert funds meant for constituencies or other people-oriented welfare projects of our government or who by other means reduce the quality and value of such projects meant for our people.
10. Following my directive when I inaugurated the Board, the ICPC has intensified its preventive mandate. I am aware that the Commission recently conducted System Studies and Review of many MDAs to evaluate systems and processes relating to transparency and accountability in personnel and capital spending through which you successfully blocked over N9 Billion from being diverted from 2019 personnel budget.
11. That was a proactive prevention measure. I have directed that all agencies of government must get on the IPPIS in order to eliminate the padding of personnel budgets. I urge ICPC to beam its searchlight on all agencies yet to get on the IPPIS and our e-government platform in order to fully halt the padding of personnel budgets and the diversion or misappropriation of capital budgets.
12. The war against corruption cannot be won without prevention, enforcement, public education and enlightenment. I urge every well-meaning Nigerian to join in the fight against corruption. I encourage the ICPC and other law enforcement agencies to intensify their efforts in public education, enlightenment and engagement with citizens. I also urge our development partners, civil society organizations, and the media to continue to support our efforts to strengthen ethical values and integrity in Nigeria.
13. Enforcement activities by anti-corruption agencies continue to reveal that some public officers possess properties and assets way beyond their legitimate sources of income. Asset recovery cases in court also reveal that some of these criminally-minded public officials are quick to disown these properties during investigation and in court.
14. This administration will continue to support anti-corruption agencies to recover all ill-gotten wealth and prosecute offenders. We will ensure that all fully recovered physical assets are sold and the proceeds remitted to the treasury.
15. Recovered assets will continue to be deployed in the provision of needed infrastructure and social welfare programs. The National Social Investment Program is already utilizing recovered funds to touch the lives of vulnerable Nigerians. I, therefore, commend the partnership between the ICPC and the National Social Investment Office to ensure that beneficiaries of government social intervention programs are not short-changed along the line by unpatriotic officials.
16. I urge the Chairman and Board of the ICPC to sustain all preventive and enforcement measures and strategies and to enforce systems and processes for tracking all government projects to ensure that no project is abandoned or not executed according to specification.
17. I seize this opportunity to call for intensification of collaboration between anti-corruption agencies, the legislature, the judiciary, development partners, civil society organizations, and professional bodies.
18. The fight against corruption is of course not only for government and anti-corruption agencies alone. All arms and tiers of government must develop and implement the anti-corruption measures. I invite the legislative and judicial arms of government to embrace and support the creation of Special Crimes Court that Nigerians have been agitating for to handle corruption cases.
19. I, therefore, urge the legislature to fast-track the passage of the Special Crimes Court Bill. Passage of this Bill is a specific priority of this administration’s ERGP.
20. Let me again note with concern the need to uphold the values of loyalty, honesty, trust, and integrity that were once cherished in our public service. Ethics and integrity are the foundation of an enduring society.
21. Nigerian culture does not tolerate dishonesty. Therefore, we must reclaim our traditional values of honesty, integrity and hard work. In spite of the few bad eggs, I am delighted that many Nigerians still hold on to our traditionally cherished values of honesty and integrity.
22. I notice that the topics slated for discussion are issues that affect our nation and key to this administration’s commitment to improve our society. Therefore I hereby urge all Ministers, heads of agencies, Permanent Secretaries and Directors to fully participate and attend both days of the summit to internalize and contribute to the deliberations but more especially the solutions. Government looks forward to the deliberations and outcome of this summit.
23. I wish you fruitful deliberations! May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria