President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday directed the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to take actions against heads of Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) and other personnel involved in project racketeering, budget, and payroll padding as well as “ghost workers’ retention.”

Buhari said that ICPC investigations had opened the government’s eyes to situations where some MDAs present new projects as ongoing, thereby circumventing his administration’s plan to cut down on the cost of governance.

He spoke at the opening of the 3rd National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector in Abuja. The theme of the summit was: “Corruption and Cost of Governance: New Imperatives for Fiscal Transparency.”  

President Muhammadu Buhari

His words: “Necessary action and sanctions should be taken against the heads of such errant MDAs. I am confident that ICPC will continue to maintain the vigilance required of her by the ICPC Act in this regard.

“We reduced the cost of governance by maintaining our promise to complete abandoned or ongoing projects commenced by previous administrations and have ensured that MDAs do not put forward new capital projects at the expense of ongoing projects.

“Government has, however, noted from the activities of the  ICPC that some MDAs have devised the fraudulent practice of presenting new projects as ongoing projects.

“I am, however, delighted that the Legislative and Judicial arms of government are also under focus on managing the cost of government because the government is collective and is not the business of the Executive branch alone.”

The President said he was delighted that some public officers have continued not only to demonstrate the core values of ethics, integrity, and patriotism but have been identified for their sterling anti-corruption disposition in their workplace.

The high point of the event attended by Chief Justice of Nigeria Ibrahim Muhammad was the presentation of the 2021 Public Service Integrity Awards to three Nigerians.

They are Nelson Okoronkwo, deputy director (Legal) Federal Ministry of Information and Culture;  Muhammad Ahmad, assistant commander of Narcotics, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and Ikenna Nweke, a doctoral student in Japan.

Okoronkwo was recognised for his consistent acts of integrity in the different ministries where he served.

As Chairman of the committee on Illegal Recruitment in the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, he facilitated the detection and removal of over 3, 000 fake employers from the service thereby saving the government millions of naira in terms of salaries and emoluments.

Okonkwo was also credited to have reported corrupt practices that led to the Ogoni cleanup investigation in the Federal Ministry Environment.

Ahmad was recognised for demonstrating the highest ideals and standards of public service in the discharge of his responsibilities.

A recipient of the Chairman/Chief Executive Award for Outstanding Performance and Integrity, Ahmad recently recovered and declared to his agency $24,500   offered to him as a bribe by a drug baron.

Nweke found a wallet containing a very large amount of money and other valuables and handed it over to the Japanese police.

He declined 10 per cent of the money offered to him as a reward.

The Nigerian, who joined the event virtually from his base in Japan, was recognised for his act of “honesty and integrity.”

Speaking specifically on Nweke, Buhari said:”I am also happy to note the ICPC special award to Ikenna Steve Nweke, a Nigerian Ph.D. student from Imo State studying in Japan.

“He has done Nigeria proud in far-away Japan by displaying traditional Nigerian values of honesty and integrity and returning a wallet containing a very large sum of money and other valuables to the police.

“He also declined 10% of the money found as a reward offered to him.

“He is indeed an icon and a beacon for our youths. I also congratulate all those to be awarded the ICPC Certificate of Integrity through their agencies.”

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