Corruption: Movement wants AG office equipped with requisite staff

The Convener Take Back Nigeria Movement and Co-convener Say No Campaign, Jaye Gaskia has advised that for President Mohammadu Buhari to curb the fight against corruption, he must empower the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation and of the states, with requisite staffing, personnel, and facilities and equipment.  

Gaskia in an interview said the federal government must also make audit units of MDAs autonomous and answerable to the auditor general’s office, which office should coordinate audit functions across board.

He said the perception continues to remain that the fight against corruption has been pursued by each succeeding regime as a political tool, to deal mostly with opponents, and those who have fallen out of favour, and to tame dissent. 

“In this respect there isn’t anything being done by Buhari that was not done by OBJ for instance.

“Also, there is also the other aspect of more or less tangible attempts to strengthen institutions in the anti corruption struggle, including the setting up of PACAC at the inception of the regime and the reviving of other hitherto dormant institutions and establishment of adhoc investigative committees.

“However, beyond these is where the problems lie. Corruption is a spectrum, and given how pervasive it has become, fighting corruption successfully will require not only honesty and sincerity of purpose, but also an all of government, whole of society approach that covers the entire broad spectrum from prevention, through exposure, investigation, prosecution and punishment.

He said the current anti corruption struggle, like previous ones is too focused and almost entirely predicated on mitigation and prosecution, rather than prevention.

According to him, to fight corruption successfully and uproot it from societal fabric, we must concentrate efforts on strengthening institutions and behavioural attitudes that promote prevention. 

We must not only make it costly to be corrupt in terms of prosecution and punishment, we must also make it difficult and nearly impossible to be corrupt.

“We also require the full proactive involvement of the judiciary, not only with trials, but also with ensuring enabling environment for speedy and professional trials that do not drag on for ages. 

“The respective heads of courts, starting with the CJN, will need to issue practice directions and anti corruption cases prosecution procedures for their respective courts, making it easier and mandatory to enforce the ACJA 2015 with respect to corruption cases, and designating certain courts specifically to handle corruption cases, while also designating certain days of week for the cases.

“In addition to these, we must encourage and enable citizen oversight, through such instruments as legally protected whistle blowing and witness protection; through deepening transparency and openness in public finance processes including procurement; ensuring avenue for citizen, civil society and media participation in procurement processes and availing them real opportunities to vet public finance processes.

“These are all the things that we need to be doing, that will give life and meaning to an all of government and whole of society approach towards stamping out corruption. Yet these are the things not being done, even by a regime that promotes itself as one that is an anti corruption regime,” he said.