PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday, lamented that over N1 trillion spent by members of both the Senate and House of Representatives for constituency projects in the last 10 years has not produced any positive result.
According to him: “Corruption is the cause of many major problems in our country. It is a catalyst for poverty, insecurity, weak educational system, poor health facilities and services and many other ills of our society.”
He made this known at the National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in Public Sector, which was organised by Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in conjunction with the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) at the State House Conference Centre in Abuja.
The President said the Federal Government was working hard to overcome problem confronting the country, especially in the area of corrupt practices, saying corruption generally and public sector corruption, in particular, inhibits the ability of government to deliver infrastructure and basic services to the people.
President Buhari said: “That is why I have reiterated on many occasions that corruption is an existential threat to Nigeria. It is a major threat to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the socio-economic transformation we are all working hard to bring about in Nigeria.
“It is on record that in the past 10 years N1 trillion has been appropriated for constituency projects, yet the impact of such huge spending on the lives and welfare of ordinary Nigerians can hardly be seen.
“The first phase report of tracking these projects by ICPC confirms our worst fears that people at the grassroots have not benefited in terms commensurate with the huge sums appropriated for constituency projects since inception.
“The fight against corruption is of course not only for government and anti-corruption agencies alone. All arms and tiers of government must develop and implement the anti-corruption measures.
“I invite the legislative and judicial arms of government to embrace and support the creation of Special Crimes Court that Nigerians have been agitating to handle corruption cases. I, therefore, urge the legislature to fast-track the passage of the Special Crimes Court Bill,” President Buhari added.
He, therefore, called on the National Assembly to hasten work on the Special Crimes Court Bill, saying Nigerians had been agitating for it to handle corruption cases.
Earlier, the ICPC Chairman, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, said the investigation had revealed that Federal Universities and health institutions padded the personnel cost budget they presented to the Federal Government, noting that management of the institutions would soon be invited for questioning.
“Part of our preliminary findings revealed gross abuse of personnel budget and inflation or padding of the nominal role. As at the time we went to press we had covered about 300 MDAs and the amount inflated was about N12bn. As at today, we have discovered additional N6bn making a total of N18.624bn restrained by ICPC.
“The exercise is still ongoing but we can confidently report that culprit MDAs are mostly academic and health institutions. For example, preliminary findings show that the University of Benin Teaching Hospital padded its budget by N1.1bn. Federal Medical Center, Bayelsa, N915m; Nnamdi Azikwe University, N907m; University of Jos, N896m; University College Hospital, Ibadan N701m; Usman Dan Fodio University, N636m and University of Ibadan, N558m.
“These institutions and all those implicated will be given the opportunity to explain themselves, while investigations are on to confirm any credible explanations they may have, we have alerted the Minister of Finance of our findings and appropriate steps are being taken to ensure that implicated MDAs will not be able to spend the excess built into their personnel budget,” He added.