The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, ICAN, has asked the federal government to avoid being selective in the fight against corruption.
That was one of the recommendations contained in the communique issued at the end of its 49th Accountants Conference in, Abuja.
The communique, signed by the President and Chairman of Council of ICAN, Mazi Nnamdi A. Okwuadigbo and Chairman of ICAN Conference Planning Committee, Queensley Seghosime, also noted that the anti-graft agencies were overwhelmed and often seemed to infringe on rights of citizens.
“Some of the agencies created to fight corruption appear to be overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem and have in certain instances adopted strategies that seem to infringe on the rights of citizens.
“The sanctions to be meted out on corrupt citizens must be fair and not selective. It should not be seen to infringe on the rights of citizens. These institutions and agencies should demonstrate independence from government interference,” the communique read.
It also recommended a three-way approach to the Federal Government in its fight against corruption, including focusing on prevention, education and sanctions, and called on the government to address the issue of unemployment and poverty by creating start-up entrepreneurship programmes for youths and supporting them with enabling environment and funding.
The communique emphasised the need for education through strengthening institutions such as revenue collecting agencies, the three arms of government, law enforcement agencies, regulatory agencies, political parties and electoral bodies to regularly train and retrain their employees.
“Education should be given a pride of place as it creates awareness that enables citizens to easily identify where corruption exists,” it said.
It also advocated the creation of the necessary environment to prevent “crimes of opportunity” by ensuring individuals and organisations operate within the shared fundamental traits that are grounded in law, particularly appropriate and prompt payments of remunerations.
On public accountability, ICAN advised the Federal Government to hasten the full implementation of International Public Sector Accounting Standards, IPSAS, to enhance transparency in public financial management and reporting.
“Government institutions are accountable to their people and should use their resources judiciously and not mismanage them. Transparent leadership and governance will allow citizens to identify indicators of under-performance on the part of political leadership and exert well-targeted pressure to put them back on track,” it said.
On insecurity in the country, the conference counselled the Federal Government to create employment opportunities as a means of curbing insurgency, as well as develop sustainable strategies to manage the impact of climate change in Borno State and any other part of the nation facing security challenges.
It stated further: “Security is evidently the pillar upon which every meaningful development could be achieved and sustained. Many had hoped that the return to democratic governance in Nigeria would address insurgency and restiveness. Instead, insecurity remains one of the major obstacles to development.
“The Conference considered the case of Borno State where insurgency and climate change had destroyed over 75 per cent of developmental infrastructure and forced about 80 percent of livestock farmers and pastoralists to migrate from the Lake Chad Basin to the Middle Belt and other parts of the country. These have caused unfortunate clashes between herdsmen and farmers.
”On infrastructure, the conference recommends huge investment in power lines and substations through the rehabilitation of abandoned equipment; dealing with under-performing contracts; re-conductoring of 132KV lines; vigorous pursuit of Public-Private Partnership, PPP, initiative on hydro and other sources of power; accessing and re-assessing donor-funded programmes and their management; and in general adopt a disciplined application of market rules.”