The Oasis Reporters
July 01, 2017
The Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo may have tactically withdrawn from the pursuit of looted funds that President Muhammadu Buhari made the cornerstone of his campaign.
Mr. Osinbajo has stated that the prevention of corruption is better than curing the scourge because recovering stolen funds is expensive.
And he should know, being a professor of law himself.
He stated this in Lagos on Thursday night at the 5th Annual Christopher Kolade Lecture on Business Integrity. The event has “Prevention is Better than Cure Even on the issue of Corruption’’ as title.
Osinbajo stated that to recover looted funds, “you need to engage forensic consultants and hire other experts; even then, you will only have some hope of recovering some of what has been lost”.
According to him, “Many countries are reluctant to return proceeds of corruption by introducing legal obstacles of different kinds to ensure that we do not get back the money.
”There is a long list of ‘what if’ – what if we were able to do something or invest even half of that money in economic or infrastructure projects before it disappeared?
”If some of that money went into boosting our reserves, our exchange rate will not be where it is today; so there lies evidence that corruption is cheaper to prevent than to cure.”
The acting President said that the negative impact of corruption on human lives and development could never be fully reversible.
“In our investigations into Defence spending, we discovered 15 billion dollars unaccounted for, with no guarantee that we will ever be able to recover it.
“You can imagine the damage done by that corrupt act,’’ the Acting President said.
He then enjoined Nigerians neither to condone corruption nor celebrate those indulging in it, stressing that “corruption is the robbery of the wealth of the nation, and thieves exist in every tribe or religion”.
Osinbajo maintained that the Federal Government would always find ways to make it harder for government funds to be stolen or diverted.
”President Muhammadu Buhari issued an order mandating immediate compliance to the Treasury Single Account system to simplify government accounting to provide a clear picture of what is coming in and going out.
“Over 20, 000 bank accounts have been closed since the presidential order.
“Another example is the bank verification numbers which modified application to the federal payroll; we have been able to uncover more than 60,000 cases of ghost workers.
”Another important measure is getting all our armed forces personnel on the electronic human resource payroll to prevent scams in the service,’’ he said.
The Acting President added that the whistleblower policy was also aimed at tackling corruption, pointing out that “the solution really is to ensure stiffer control to prevent fraud and corruption”.
Invariably, Acting President Osinbajo seems to be adopting the policy thrust of former president Goodluck Jonathan who equally believed in preventing corruption through the electronic superhighway when he introduced the Bank Verification Number and the Treasury Single Account that Mr. Osinbajo is praising today.
During the campaigns then, Jonathan was much derided.
He assured that the presidency would ensure close working relationship with the judiciary and ensure that the judiciary itself was free of corruption to successfully prevent corruption.
”We will not succeed in preventing corruption to a significant extent unless the acts of corruption are met with appropriate levels of sanctions and deterrence,” Osinbajo said.
Observers believe that the government is gradually turning to endorse the policies of the former president, Mr. Jonathan.