By JAMES EZEMA
In a move to ensure transparency and accountability in the Ministry, the Federal Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development has set up Anti- Corruption and Transparency Unit (ACTU).
At the inauguration of the unit in his office in Abuja, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development, Dr. Abdulkadir Mu’azu stated that the unit would ensure accountability, transparency and adequate service delivery in the Ministry.
According to him, the fight against corruption is one of the cardinal focus of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration towards lifting Nigeria out of poverty.
He noted that ACTU was established by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) as one of the mechanisms for delivering its mandates on prohibition and prevention of corruption especially in the Public Service.
Mu’azu informed that “at the inauguration of the Ministry’s ACTU which coincides with the celebration of the International Anti-Corruption day with the theme; Recover with Integrity is a signal of the readiness of the Ministry to stamp out all forms of corruption in its dealings’’.
He further stated that, ‘‘I had directed proper verification and monitoring of all projects to ensure that they deliver value for the expenditure incurred.
“This has led to satisfactory project delivery as there are many layers of verification before payments are made for executed projects and there is collaboration between Departments and Units to eliminate wastages.
“The Ministry is also evolving measures to block leakages and sharp practices in our financial management”, he said.
Emphasising that the selection of the ACTU members was done with due consideration to their characters and high moral standings, he urged them to avoid any action that may impugn their integrity and put them into disrepute.
He then charged the members of the unit to use their tenure to prove their worth in assisting the Ministry to fight corruption to a standstill.
Dr. Mu’azu further advised the members to monitor the activities of the staff and processes in order to assist the ministry to change the narrative of alleged violation of due process and acts of corruption.
He appreciated “the efforts of the ICPC for its various initiatives which is aimed at addressing vulnerabilities and weaknesses in the Public Sector, adding that the Ethics and Integrity Compliance Scorecard of Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) published annually by the commission is a welcome development.
“The recent published 2020 scorecard has drawn the attention of Public Sector organizations to areas requiring intervention and improvement’’, Mu’azu added.
In his goodwill massage, the Chairman of the ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, represented by Bar. Ifeanyi Obiano thanked the Permanent Secretary and the Management Staff for making it possible to inaugurate the reconstituted Anti-Corruption and Transparency Unit (ACTU) of the Ministry.
Prof. Bolaji appealed to the management of the Ministry to adequately fund the activities of the Unit as statutorily required in the extant circulars issued by the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.
He added that “the Ministry would benefit from ACTU when the Unit effectively carries out it assigned functions which include Corruption Risk Assessment, System Study and Review of processes of the Ministry and make recommendations as appropriate to mitigate corruption loopholes, sensitization of staff, implementation of Code of Ethics and the conduct of preliminary investigation into complaints received amongst others’’.
Professor Bolaji warned the members not to use their position to which hunt or victimized anybody but work closely with the management and other staff of the Ministry to entrench the culture of accountability and discipline.
In her welcome remark, Director, Special Duties in the Ministry, Mrs. Fuasat Lawal, lauded the Permanent Secretary for the commitment in ensuring that the tenets of Anti-Corruption stance is maintained in the Ministry.
She also charged the ACTU members to carry out their assignment effectively and efficiently to achieve the thrust of ACTU.