The Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said on Tuesday that corruption has persisted in Nigeria because it lacked the institutions, systems and processes to prevent it.
Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala made this known when she spoke on the topic: Preventing Leakages in the Nigerian Economy at the Catholic Caritas Foundation Forum in Abuja.
The minister gave the verdict despite the country having in place two key anti-corruption agencies – the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission.
According to her, the absence of the relevant systems and institutions that will help check corruption has created opportunities for people to engage in the act.
“This thing has been with us and we must crack it. This is not something that started in this country today; but it is something that we must crack,” she said. “Fundamentally, we have to ask ourselves, why has this continued to be a problem? I am convinced that it is because we constantly look at the symptoms and not the cause of the disease.
The cause of the disease is we don’t have in place the institutions, the systems and the processes to block and prevent it in the first place. That’s the only difference between us and the people abroad.”
The minister assured that people would be compelled to do the right thing always if the appropriate systems were in place to block and prevent corruption.
She urged youth in the country to ask the relevant questions that would help tackle corruption.
She said: “This is so important now because of technology and I am a total fan of the use of technology and electronic platforms to block the leakages in this country. We must use them the way they are being used in other countries.”
Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said that the introduction of the Government Integrated Financial Management System had helped to reduce physical movement of cash to make payments and curb corruption.
She said that the Integrated Personnel Payment System had also helped government to remove ghost workers from the system and save money in the process.
She said, “We have been able to weed out about 62,893 ghost workers till date saving N208.7 billion and we have not finished in the system. That is addressing the root cause.”
The minister said that the names of the persons found to be involved in the act had been sent to the ICPC for further action.
Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said that through the electronic wallet system introduced by the Ministry of Agriculture, government had been able to reduce corruption in fertilizer distribution in the country.
According to her, 10.5 million farmers have been registered under the system with more than 6 million being able to access the product personally.
This, she said, had contributed to increased food production.
The minister said that with the creation of the Pension Transmission Administration Department as demanded by law, issues with old pension were being handled systematically
She said that 14 people were presently under trial for various pension scams in the country.
Commenting on the outcome of the forensic Audit on the alleged $20 billion missing oil money, she said the ministry had written to the NNPC asking it to remit the amount as directed by the auditors. (NAN)