The anti-corruption campaign recently received additional boost when the Federal Government mapped out some measures to end endemic corruption in the country. One of these anti-corruption measures announced by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbanjo, at the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in Abuja, was the stoppage of secret ownership of companies and properties in the country. Others included the continuous audit of Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the establishment of Freedom of Information (FoI) desk officers in 106 government agencies in compliance with the FoI Act and the setting up of a presidential committee on asset recovery and developing a procedure and guidelines to ensure that all government funds are accounted for using the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
To achieve this objective, the government is said to be working in partnership with the government of the United Kingdom to build an open beneficial ownership register that will house ownership data, aimed at ending anonymous company ownership in the country. It is good that the ongoing audit of Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies has helped the government save N200 billion by eliminating ghost workers as at March 2018.
We urge the government to deploy to good use all recovered looted funds. In addition to using them to finance the budget, government can dedicate some of them to revamp infrastructure such as roads and bridges. They can be used to address the decay in the health and education sectors. Government should also use the money to improve the standard of living of all Nigerians.
We urge the government to close all secret companies operating in the country. Apart from the fact that secret companies evade tax payment, the public might be exposed to the sharp practices of those secret companies.
In fact, government should be blamed for the operation of secret companies in the country. The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) should rise to the challenge and stop the operation of secret companies. As the registrar of all companies, it is in a vintage position to know secret companies operating in the country. Therefore, the indication that it is working in partnership with the government of the United Kingdom to end the menace is good. Ending the ownership of secret companies in the country is a good step to curb corruption in the country. It will assist the government with accurate data of all companies operating in Nigeria. It will also boost the nation’s tax revenue.
Besides these measures to strengthen the government’s anti-corruption campaign, the government should be more transparent in the handling of all recovered loots. That is the only way it can assure the citizenry that the war on corruption is on course. It must update Nigerians on all its actions, especially on the recovery of looted funds and assets. We urge Nigerians to monitor government’s programmes and demand accountability from their leaders at all levels of government. There is no doubt that systemic corruption is a global problem.
In 2015, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimated that between $800 billion and $200 trillion or 2 to 5 per cent of global domestic product is laundered globally each year. It is also estimated that corruption alone costs the African continent over $148 billion per annum. Since financial corruption is not restricted within one country, we support the Federal Government’s recent call for the reform of Article 51 of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and Article 16 (1) (c) of the African Union Convention for Preventing and Combating Corruption for easier repatriation of stolen assets. There is the need for nations to cooperate in the repatriation of stolen funds.