The persisting misuse of funds by many government parastatals is a manifestation of an impaired and unprogressive form of project supervision and monitoring by the disbursing unit (Ministry of Finance).
Additionally, the irrational cases at the Niger Delta Development Commission and North East Development Commission are beginning to demonstrate that the aims of the governing boards of those agencies have strayed from the central government’s coordinated objectives.
I suspect those boards believe they are completely autonomous and self-contained, hence they are unconnected in any formation to the central government’s objectives (a fault of those responsible for the overall project monitoring).
I think the disbursing unit (the finance ministry, in this case), must begin to understand that the traditional approach of simply distributing the budget must unfold and become secured to concise and point delivery of sub-projects and parts of the entire projects.
Of course, even the finance ministry should be held accountable for failures of those agencies in objective delivery, because it failed to recognise and check questionable activities by those agencies and the subsequent potential implosion of the overall objectives of restoring the affecting areas (Niger Delta, and North-East).
The ministry should not wait for the Auditor-General’s annual or semi-annual audits before it acts. While the government’s ‘Open Treasury’ initiative appears wonderful, as it exposes government spending and expenditures, however, tackling the ills affecting these ‘troublesome’ agencies and other parastatals alike requires a different stratagem.
The options available can be for the central government to admit defeat and simply eviscerate and ‘scrap’ those agencies, or it can outsource the management and delivery of those agencies’ implementation objectives to global services firm such as IBM, KPMG, Bain, PwC, Deloitte, Booz, etc, with a reputation for delivery and accountability; or finally, initiate an ‘Open Board’ approach towards effective, transparent, exploratory and verifiable management for the ‘troublesome’ agencies, departments, and parastatals; and others encumbered in similar controversies.
The advantages and superiority of the last approach are that citizens can partake in government decision-making and also check questionable acts by the operating management. It’s a form of participatory government (or management).
The modalities of its design can be left to someone astute enough to understand its peculiarities and capaciousness. Assuming we are told the world faces extinction-level event from a colliding comet, it’s most probable you will find Nigerians ransacking the treasury instead of searching for safety.
The catalogue of corruptible acts simply bemoans and bewails any progressive act. Today, it’s the NPA’s ownership of illegal bank account, tomorrow, it is the NSITF ill-spending galore, yonder tomorrow’s will be anyone’s guess.
In retrospect, the Attorney-General of the Federation’s position on the NPA controversy that “…whistle-blower is expected, upon acceptance, to not only trace the assets but also recover the same and have it deposited in a designated asset recovery account maintained by the Federal Government in the Central Bank which is usually provided to the recovery agent in writing…”, appears slightly misplaced, and may be encouraging citizens into illegal acts without the requisite law-enforcement training (if recovery is also the responsibility of the informer).
Can that position be categorised as an abdication of responsibility by the nation’s highest law-enforcing citizen? One begins to wonder if the AGF’s office can successfully overturn the seriously-flawed P&ID $9.5bn arbitral pronouncement. Perhaps, the AGF office should re-clarify his position.
Even the whistle-blowing reward can, and should be tweaked so there’s a limit or cap, to prevent depriving (and casually enriching informers) the state from fully benefit from re-purposed funds (there are global best practices on that!)
On the suspension and ongoing investigation of the acting Chairperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, many refer to the long tenure duration as a violation of the law without citing a reference; others even canvass or agitate for the merging of the ICPC and the EFCC, without understanding the benefits of combating corruption using redundant layers.
In fact, any reasonable citizen will admit that both investigative bodies (EFCC and ICPC) have been lagging in many of their cases, but their failure is also that of the AGF and Ministry of Justice.
For any criminal case to proceed, it must receive concurrence and affirmation from the Justice ministry and Attorney-General’s office on its potential for achievement. Indeed, perhaps the investigative bodies should now be consigned to concentrate on their core strength, which is investigation, and allow an independent professional office to prosecute the cases (much like how the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit was detached from the EFCC). The ‘bifurcation’ of the judicial office, they say.
That should also guarantee jurisprudence continuity, as cases survive newly elected offices. Also remember a recent case of a former DG of a vital agency that the ICPC simply lost because it couldn’t distinguish between ‘fraud’ and ‘a conflict of interest’, also supports the notion that their focus should be only on investigation and the prosecution should be reserved for a separate legal professional office that’s ready and willing to absorb public criticisms for case failures.