By Francisca Oluyole
Abuja – The Ministry of Environment on Tuesday advised the Anti-Corruption and Transparency Unit (ACTU) in the ministry to ensure that the award and execution of contracts followed laid down rules and regulations.
Mrs Sharon Ikeazor, the Minister of State in the ministry gave the advice during the inauguration and induction of the unit on Tuesday in Abuja.
The unit is made up of nine committee members drawn from the procurement and other departments of the ministry.
Ikeazor also advised the committee to be tactful and courageous in monitoring projects, especially in relation to the implementation of the 2020 budget.
The minister urged the ACTU members to promote transparency and accountability in conducting government activities effectively without witch-hunting staffers of the ministry.
According to her, one of the visions of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is to fight corruption.
She added that the inauguration of the unit could not have come at a better time even though “it came rather late”.
“This ministry is a major organ through which government policies are formulated and implemented and it becomes appropriate to ensure that we are part of its repositioning and transformation for effective service delivery to Nigeria citizens.
“I am glad that members of the procurement department are part of the committee because most corruption cases emanating in the ministries come through procurement,’’ she said.
Ikeazor urged the committee to be proactive in sensitising staffers of the ministry to ACTU’s role and also in giving credible information to the unit.
She promised that the ministry would give the committee adequate support to enable it to carry out its mandate.
She also praised the Independent Corruption Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for assisting her former office, the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) to achieve a milestone.
“We are all aware of the enormous pension frauds that have been going on in Nigeria. I want to say ICPC has helped to reduce it,” she said.
Mrs Ibukun Odusote, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry said that corruption in various forms had eaten deep into the “fabric of the civil service” and the country in general.
Odusote who was represented by Mr Yakubu Mijiyawa, the Director of Finance in the ministry said that corruption was responsible for the slow-paced development in the public service and the country.
“I am most delighted that though the inauguration is coming late, considering the time ACTU has existed in the ministry, this milestone achievement will enable the ministry to contribute its own quota to the success of the fight against corruption.
“I am aware that the non-inauguration of ACTU in the ministry has greatly hampered the unit from executing its mandate effectively and efficiently hence my insistence on this being done to set the unit on the proper footing,’’ she said.
Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, the ICPC Chairman said that the commission had a three-pronged approach to fighting corruption, namely: enforcement, prevention, and education.
Owasanoye, represented by Mr Abbia Udofia, the Director, Corruption and Monitoring Department, ICPC said that in giving effect to its preventive mandate, the commission established the Anti-Corruption and Transparency Unit (ACTU) in 2001.
He said that ACTU was established in collaboration with the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCFS) to serve as an internal regulatory mechanism to identify lapses in operational systems, among others.
The chairman said, “the commission has also initiated the Constituency Project Tracking Group (CPTG) aimed at tracking projects approved by the National Assembly to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) MDAs.
“This group revealed that billions of naira have been allocated by the Federal Government for zonal intervention projects over the past 10 years but a large amount of that figure cannot be accounted for as some contractors have failed to execute their projects while other poorly executed the projects.”
According to him, ACTU is not meant to challenge the authority of the management or to displace existing operations but to complement them especially in the areas of instilling discipline and integrity.