There are signs that the National Anti-Corruption Strategy’s second cycle (NACS 2022-2026) may be officially approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) before the year is over.
Additionally, there are guarantees that President Muhammadu Buhari will shortly inaugurate the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) of the strategy, which would be presided over by Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN).
In order to ensure effective service delivery at the Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, the FEC established the NACS on July 5, 2017. (MDAs). Beatrice Jedy-Agba, the Federal Ministry of Justice’s Permanent Secretary and Solicitor General, revealed this last Tuesday during her remarks at the stakeholders meeting.
The acting Auditor General of the Federation, Mrs. Victoria Ojogbane, Director of Planning, Research, and Statistics of the Ministry (FMoJ), Ladidi Mohammed, Chairman of the Technical Committee on the Implementation of the NACS, and representatives of the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC), Component Manager Uche Emmanuel, Consultant Dr. Ada Chidi-Igbokwe, Programme Officer Pwanakei Daka, and the head of the Transparency Unit on Governance and Anti-Corruption Reforms (TUGAR), Jane Onwumere, attended the event.
In order to ensure that the snags impeding the strategy’s smooth execution, including M and E committee operations, would be resolved, Onwumere revealed that relevant correspondences, including the reports of surveys, had been submitted to the council for review and approval.
Agba said: “One of the first steps we will take is to ensure the President constitutes IMC, and then, we begin to develop the strategy and action plan. We have to disseminate information and communicate effectively with sub-national entities to help. I think really the major problem or challenge is the lack of a central coordinating mechanism. I realise that I needed to speak to, and also, make definite commitment on.
“So, once the President has constituted the body (IMC) and it is recognised with a definite mandate you can speak to issues of funding through the IMC.
“I like to say that we also have mechanisms for coordinating the Justice Sector Initiative. I think it is one of the ones that we have, and we are also trying to incorporate that in our planning. We have the Federal Justice Sector Reform Coordinating Committee, and we have done a lot. For instance, we will work to ensure that the administration of the Criminal Justice Act is adopted by various states.
“This is one of the things we can run along with. I think it is the issue of clarity on the role of the Federal Ministry of Justice in ensuring that IMC was properly constituted.”
She recalled how the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) resolution on tackling corruption, gave birth to the NACS when the Federal Executive Council in July 5, 2017, approved it, stressing subsequently, the FEC directed AGF to implement the plan, saying that the five pillars of operation were “prevention of corruption, public engagement, campaign for ethical re-orientation, enforcement and sanctions and recovery and management of proceeds, even at three levels (national, sub-national and local government).”
The IMC, she noted, is charged with the responsibility of facilitating the Anti-Corruption Funding Framework (AFF) and development of Sector-Specific Strategies in line with NACS.
Agba regretted there were challenges to implementation of the first cycle of strategy, including absence of budget to support the M & E in carrying out monitoring exercises; publicity of the NACS and its implementation by both private and relevant government agencies (Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, and the National Orientation Agency).
Other issues, she noted, were the need for public enlightenment with the law enforcement agencies and public at large and the COVID-19 pandemic.
She commended some development partners, such as the European Union (EU) for providing funding support and the British Council, through the Rule of Law and Anti -Corruption (RoLAC) and MacArthur Foundation, which operated through Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD).
“The establishment of certain Anti-Corruption agencies and getting several legislative frameworks and policies are part of the needs to ensure we are in full compliance to the provisions, spirit and intendment of UNCAC at all levels,” she said.
She expressed joy that the baseline surveys carried out by M & E in some MDAs indicated that 84 per cent of agencies were aware of the strategy; 72 per cent have significant level of buy-in, 73.3 per cent have some level of organisational capacity to implement the Anti-Corruption Transparency Units (ACTUs) and 100 per cent, having the public access to it at organisational level; 90 per cent, enjoying high level of partnership, coordination and collaboration, while 63.6 per cent have funding and budgetary constraints in implementing the NACS. The M and E committee carried out the second report of the fieldwork. She noted that it was deliberated upon some weeks ago by members in Abuja, ready to be submitted to FEC.
Speaking, the Senate Committee Chairman on Anti -Corruption, Suleiman Abdu Kwari, who regretted the challenges faced by the M and E committee in carrying out their duties due to non formation and inauguration of IMC and non budgetary provisions, informed that the National Assembly (NASS) took the mainstreaming of the fight against corruption at legal and institutional levels serious to ensure service delivery, leading to the passage of related critical bills.
He expressed hope that the whistleblowers bill would be passed before end of present Senate. He said: “I am pleased to inform you that NASS has passed very critical legislation that speaks directly to the first pillar, which is strengthening legal and institutional framework designed to prevent and combat corruption.
“These are the Proceeds of Crime; Recovery Management Act 2022; Money Laundry Prevention and Prohibition Act 2022 and Anti-terrorism Prevention Act 2022. These bills have been assented to by Mr. President. This has been our noble contribution to the fight against corruption. We hope to do more.
“I am also pursuing before the end of life of this administration, my stay in the Senate, to concede on some issues, as I highlighted, whistleblowers Act is in the saddle and we are almost there. We will, on resumption, pursue earnestly what needs to be done to get it out. The other legislation is in progress. The senate is ready to give its best. What we will continue to do is to ensure whatever we do is for the good of all because we know that corruption is killing Nigeria.”