Complaints from Nigerians regarding activities and practices in ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) bordering on corruption and deliberate stalling of reform efforts featured prominently at the meeting of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) presided over by the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
Speaking at the meeting held at the presidential Villa yesterday, Osinbajo said the federal government remained committed to tackling corruption.
“There is a lot of talk about high-level corruption and some public officials stealing money, etc; but I think for average Nigerians, the point of contact is really this sort of approvals for ID cards, for passports, customs, officials, police, and so on,” he said.
Osinbajo noted that the collaboration between PEBEC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) “is an important step in achieving the federal government’s reform agenda, especially regarding all government MDAs regulating business environment responsibilities, thereby ensuring a more conducive environment for businesses in the country.
“I think that if this collaboration is robust enough, we will be able to kill two birds with one stone; first is improving our EoDB, second is our anti-corruption ranking internationally, because some of the ranking is a perception index. So, people are simply asked, what is your perception about corruption in Nigeria?
“So, if we work on these issues, we can really do a lot in terms of improving the image of the country, not just in the Ease of Doing Business rankings, but also in terms of perception of corruption.”
To further improve the country’s business climate, the vice president said there will be a direct connection between the anti-corruption agenda and the reform efforts of the Federal government in a bid to secure the reforms through criminal investigation and prosecution of public complaints.
He said the ICPC will carry out such prosecution where necessary.
In her speech, the special adviser to the president on EoDB and PEBEC secretary, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, noted that partnership with the ICPC will ensure that complaints received would be handed over to the anti-corruption agency through the MDAs for prosecution.
She noted that some of the complaints and feedbacks received bordered on corrupt practices from public officials and civil servants, which necessitated the collaboration with the ICPC in resolving these complaints.
“So we started the conversation with the ICPC, which saw the value in our request that they take up those corruption-tainted complaints that come out of the portal.
“Between November 2018 and January 2019, a total of 1,966 complaints were received…of which 1,892 were resolved, representing 96.2 per cent success rate,” she said.
Similarly, the chairman of ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, told the Council that the agency was happy about the collaboration as it would help in reforming the public service system.
He stated that the ICPC would adopt a multi-pronged approach in tackling the issues.
“When we started reviewing samples of complaints, we jointly agreed that the first line of action, which we have started, is to have the particular agencies first of all take administrative action. Once there is a signal that something will happen, we believe that there will be some level of restraint from the particular agency.”
“We are also having a conversation with the Head of Service on this matter; that once we investigate public officers and there is credible information, we would file charges. The public service rules have provisions to deal with those issues. In that way, we are able to at least begin to get some positive response. We could use that feedback to be able to stop systemic corruption.”