The chairman of the Abuja council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Emmanuel Ogbeche on Wednesday led in the calls for urgent action by government to recover over N4.6 billion serially paid into private accounts of individuals in a federal ministry in 2019.
Participants and callers to a radio program, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE in Abuja lamented the inaction of government since Premium Times reported the unwholesome practice in the federal ministry.
Ogbeche and other stakeholders made the call during a radio program, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG.
Ogbeche was reacting to an investigative report exposing illegal payment of ₦4.6 billion into private accounts of directors and employees of the then Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, under Babatunde Raji Fashola.
He said it was worrisome that extant laws of the nation were violated by MDAs, decrying that Nigeria is building a legacy of corruption. He emphasized that successive administrations have paid lip service instead of genuinely tackling issues of accountability, transparency and corruption in the public sector.
Ogbeche identified lack of political will as a major impediment of the fight against corruption, as well as bemoaned President Muhammadu Buhari’s lackluster attitude against corruption.
“For a government that came to power on the basis of anti-corruption stance, one would have imagined that we would have seen a more robust engagement on the fight against graft and other financial vices, but we haven’t seen it.”
He lauded the efforts of PRIMORG in bringing corruption stories to public notice, adding that public advocacy remains the best way to get anti-graft agencies to be alive to their duties.
Similarly, The Program Officer at BudgIT, a civic tech organisation, Chinwe Umeh-Ujubuonu stated that the dangers of misappropriation of public funds and flagrant abuse of extant laws is the reason for a general lack of trust by the citizens.
According to her, corruption in the MDAs is largely responsible for high rates of child mortality, out of school children, unemployment, robbery, kidnapping and so on. She revealed that mismanagement of public funds occasioned by lack of transparency and accountability is now the order of the day in all government MDAs.
She made these startling revelations: “We noticed between January and July, 2019, over two thousand, nine hundred individual payments were made into private accounts which cut across all the MDAs and came up to N51 billion paid into individual accounts without description.
“We found one that was paid into an individual account and the description says, “for transfer to NCDC for emergency Lassa Fever response”. The question is, why pay it into an individual account? Why not pay to NCDC directly? She queried.
“We found out that five thousand individual payments were made without description which cut across all the MDAs and came up to about N278 billion. Also, we discovered about two hundred and seventy-five payment records that didn’t have beneficiary name, ministry name, organization name and they were among the payments that didn’t have description,” Umeh-Ujubuonu disclosed.