Recently, at a stakeholders’ session organised by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), after the commissioning of its anti-graft office at Kaduna, the Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, revealed his administration’s firm stand to support the Federal Government’s anti corruption war to remake Kaduna State
Analysts opine that Nigeria will continue to experience a slow pace of development until the cancerous cells of corruption are uprooted.
One of the nation’s anti-graft agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has continued to assure that the agency and country will not give up on the fight against corruption, though it said the forces behind the epidemic are fighting back in a bid to truncate efforts to eradicate the menace.
Observers have noted that the task of improving accountability and transparency in public life remains a mirage in many agencies of government including office holders.
In order to take its anti-graft war closer to the people, the EFCC recently opened its Kaduna office in addition to the North West zonal office, the premises provided by Governor Nasir El-Rufai to hunt for corrupt public office holders, contractors and citizens who have skeletons in their cupboards.
Speaking at the event, Governor Nasir El-Rufai, said his administration is firmly aligned with the federal government’s anti-corruption war, stressing that efforts to remake Kaduna would require the presence and cooperation of public integrity agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The governor further explained that, his resolve to ensure prudent use of state funds for the public good is the reason the administration adopted an open budgeting system that allows citizens’ participation, adding that his government consistently publishes the audited annual accounts of the state.
According to El-Rufai, the administration is passing a state anti-corruption law, in addition to the panoply of laws and policy actions that have been established to strengthen public finance management, streamline public procurement and make budgeting more transparent.
The governor said: “The Kaduna State government offered the EFCC office, premises in our state capital to demonstrate that we have zero-tolerance for bad behaviour by public office holders, contractors, businesses and citizens.”
“We applaud the leadership of the EFCC for taking the significant step to establish a presence in Kaduna. I assure you that you can continue to count on the support of the state government.Kaduna State aligns with the effort of the Federal Government to fight corruption.”
The governor added: “In 2015, we took a major step against wastage of public funds by adopting the Treasury Single Account. Within six weeks, we were able to close 470 state government accounts in commercial banks, and transfer their balances to a single account at the Central Bank. That yielded N25bn. We reinforced this by plugging the revenue leakages that occur through cash collection.”
“No public agency or servant is permitted to collect revenue in cash. We further appointed, through legislation, the Kaduna Internal Revenue Service as the sole collector of all public revenue. In this quest, we have enjoyed the partnership of the Kaduna State House of Assembly.”
“ I believe that by opening a state office in Kaduna today, in addition to having the North-West Zonal Office, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) will be able to act speedily on all cases of financial crimes in the state and across our local government councils.” El-Rufai said.
On his part, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu, told the gathering during the anti-graft Kaduna office commissioning that concerted efforts are being made by some big Nigerians to neutralise the fight against corruption.
Magu insisted on the establishment of a special prison for corrupt Nigerians in the dreaded Boko Haram infested Sambisa forest, saying that for the prison to become a reality, the judiciary arm of government should should cooperate with the Commission.
The EFCC boss, who is presently in a battle with the Senate, alerted that illegal monies are likely to be abandoned by corrupt persons at the nation’s airport and other places in near future as it happened at Kaduna airport some few months ago.
Magu, however, commended Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, for encouraging EFCC to establish a zonal office in Kaduna: “We want to call for establishment of a prison in Sambisa forest in order to keep away corrupt people from our midst. In this case, the judiciary has direct influence to help in the fight against corruption.”
He added: “But concerted efforts are being made by some big Nigerians to neutralise the fight against corruption.”
“We must change the narrative by fighting back those that do not want the fight to succeed.”
“I remain committed to the fight against corruption, and I commend the Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai for encouraging EFCC to establish a zonal office in Kaduna.”
“We must therefore join hands together to kill corruption, before corruption will kill us”. Magu maintained.
One of the participants at a stakeholders’ engagement session of the Commission shortly after the commissioning of the edifice, Ibrahim Sani, who x-rayed the EFCC anti-corruption war activities, asserted that the epidemic is a monster that has brought more harm to our country than any other malaise.
Sani said: “All must stand against corruption before it finishes Nigeria. Graft is the cause of the crises in the various sectors of Nigeria, be it health, education or power”
“Some of us are willing to join the whistle blowing campaign to provide information for the EFCC.”
“ I will continue to work to encourage other civil society organisations to assist the agency expand its anti-corruption crusade to the grassroots,’’ he said.
Another participant, Mary Kwahi, a civil rights advocate, called for the establishment of tough sanctions to deal with corruption in the country: “The present administration has proved that the war against corruption is on course. Though, corrupt cabals are fighting back to get away with their stolen loot, more serious measures should be adopted to bring the menace to an end for Nigeria to move forward as a nation” she said.