How Public Servants Loot Treasury - Accountant-General

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How Public Servants Loot Treasury - Accountant-General

Postby Richard Akindele » Fri Aug 25, 2006 6:01 pm

The Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Alhaji Ibrahim Dankwambo, yesterday demonstrated how public servants loot the nation's treasury, saying they deliberately manipulate the accounting system through provision of unreliable information for payroll and other estimates to defraud government.

Dankwambo made the revelation at the 5th National Seminar on Economic and Financial Crimes, which ended yesterday in Abuja where he listed various ways public servants manipulate the system to steal government funds.


In his paper, "Managing Public Funds: Ethical Challenges, Conflicts of Interest and Solutions," he lamented: "Acco-unting officers in all ministries, departments and agencies still engage in hasty awards of contracts in December every year.

He said they ensured that before the books were ruled at the end of the year, all money voted for their ministries and agencies were spent without regard to accountability and transparency.

The Accountant-General implored public officers to imbibe the values of personal discipline, honesty and efficiency in the management of public funds and other resource while assuring them that measures aimed at effectively addressing the deficit of integrity among accounting officers in the public service were being put in place.

Earlier, in another presentation, Mr. Martins Porlain, a consultant and legal adviser at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, advised Nigeria to embrace prevention as an effective strategy in the quest for the recovery of stolen asset.

He observed that despite the provisions of the United Nation Conventions Against Corruption (UNCAC), recovery of assets was still problematic as countries where looted assets were domiciled were not too eager to release such assets without guarantees that they would not be misused.

Contributing, the Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu lauded, which organised the seminar, the British Government for its assistance to Nigeria in her quest to recover funds looted by past leaders.

Nevertheless, he expressed worry that most of the leading players in the international financial system had failed to ratify all conventions against money laundering.

He appealed to Nigerian leaders to stop siphoning the resources of the country abroad, lamenting the situation in the past when leaders accumulated houses in choice districts of London.

Ribadu, said the commission had returned over $150 million to foreign countries and individuals who had fallen victims of shady deals by Nigerians.

He pleaded with the media and the international community for more support and understanding in order that the fight against corruption would be a success.

According to him, Nigeria is no longer a save haven for looters of public funds and that the scam money was returned to demonstrate unwavering commitment of the country to its anti-graft crusade. This gesture, he said, foreign nations should reciprocate.

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He said that it followed that those countries like the United Kingdom, United States of America and other Asian countries would begin to see corruption as posing serious security threats than terrorism, which is being fought in all fronts.

Ribadu argued that with the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on America, the world had begun to focus more on money laundering, which was allegedly used to finance the attack, saying that the West had no choice than to assist the country, adding that by so doing that they would be helping themselves.

He asserted that more than 300 people were killed yearly indirectly by the activities of corrupt persons "because by stealing massively from the treasury, they deny their citizens of good living, and in the process millions of people die of frustration and hunger.

This Day.
Richard Akindele
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Postby Richard Akindele » Fri Aug 25, 2006 8:13 pm

Isn't this utterly ridiculous? Can you believe the solutions that the Accountant General is proposing? He is basically pleading to the theives to please be good.

If somebody breaks into your home, you don't prevent future occurence by appealing to the thieves to please not come back. Instead, you ask yourself how the thieves got in, and what you can do to fix that security hole in your home.

Here are my proposed solutions:

1. Institute a law that says nobody can deposit more than N10,000 in a bank without explaining how they got it. America has such a law under anti money laundering laws.

2. Build a national database of Nigerian citizens. See my article on this subject - http://www.nairaland.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=357. That'd make it very easy to track what everybody is doing, and prevent fraudulent people from being added to payrolls.

3. Create a department of overseers who track state spending, contract awards, etc. EFCC is already doing something like this today. So we can just establish more bodies like it.

4. Before contracts are awarded, make sure the cost has been discussed by city/state public panel. If possible, televise such discussion sessions for the public to see. America has CSPAN for this purpose (http://www.c-span.org/watch/cs_cspan_wm.asp?Cat=TV&Code=CS). Also, make sure every contract is executed by asking questions years down the road.

5. Keep an eye on people's lifestyles. It's not rocket science to know that a civil servant who earns N150,000 a year is not supposed to be driving a Mercedes Benz, own million dollar homes abroad, or live a lavish lifestyle.

6. Conduct unannounced audits of government departments, especially departments that have direct access to public money.

7. Demand a transparent system whereby anybody can see how public funds are being spent. That way, people would be able to detect fraudulent appropriations and raise an alarm. Here is an example: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/news/2005news/2005-185.html If the page is not viewable, here is an excerpt:

To date, Ecology has committed or is reviewing applications worth about $3.35 million for public agricultural water-supply projects, including:

$1.5 million to Roza Irrigation District to purchase irrigation water for farmers to keep their crops alive.
$700,000 to Wenatchee Heights Irrigation District to upgrade its river diversion system and fix leaky pipe canals.
$335,000 to Kittitas Reclamation District to fix leaks in its irrigation piping (under review).
$335,000 to Kennewick Irrigation District for eight water-conservation projects (under review).
$230,000 to Okanogan Irrigation District to cover pumping expenses due to using an alternate water source.
$220,000 to the Yakama Nation to fix or replace leaky irrigation piping.
$15,543 to Icicle Irrigation District to repair its dam at Colchuck Lake.
The department is reviewing applications worth $438,000 for public facilities and utilities that supply drinking water, including:

$235,000 to the city of Goldendale to construct an emergency well.
$120,000 to Stevens Public Utilities District to drill emergency wells.
$83,000 to Pend Oreille Public Utilities District to upgrade a water intake, drill wells and provide additional water storage.


The above is public record that anybody can view anytime.

If we're serious about eradicating corruption, we need to approach the problem in a serious manner, not by merely begging government workers to be honest.

I have many more ideas, but the above few are a good place to start.
Richard Akindele
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