The Senate Public Accounts Committee has declared that civil servants in Nigeria are more corrupt than politicians.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee, Matthew Urhoghide who made the submission said the claim is based on investigations and analysis of the report of the Auditor General of the Federation from 2015 to 2018.
It is understood that the report of the Auditor-General is based on the accounts of federal ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs).
Naija News understands the Senate Public Accounts Committee (SPAC) is the only standing committee of the red chamber recognized by the Nigerian constitution.
Urhoghide stated that his committee has established that the worst form of corruption, termed “institutional corruption,” is rampant among civil servants.
He added that they have started summoning the accounting officers of the MDAs who have misappropriated government funds within the time frame covered by the report.
“Let me say this, we are in a clime where accusations are quick to be made, where people are quick to condemn, particularly against the political class.
“Everybody believes that any evil that happens in Nigeria is perpetrated by the politicians or the political class but we keep telling them that all the political parties put together, in terms of membership, are not up to 10 per cent of the Nigerian population. So, we do not form the greater majority of our population as a country.
“Findings by our committee have revealed that the public wealth stolen from the system were not stolen by politicians.
“We have uncovered billions of naira stolen from the accounts of the MDAs. How many politicians have that kind of money?
“We have been summoning accounting officers, who are civil servants, to account for the stolen funds. We are not summoning ministers. There is no way a minister could misappropriate public funds without the active connivance of the accounting officers.
“The permanent secretaries, directors general and executive secretaries of the MDAs are the accounting officers.
“We have uncovered billions of monies spent without due regard to extant Act and regulations. We are not at war with anybody but Nigerians too, must know that the greatest misuse of public funds are perpetrated by people from the civil service.
“That’s the truth and no one can controvert that. It is possible that today, in the presidency, the man who symbolises the office, the President would be blamed whereas those under him were the ones perpetrating fraud,” he said in an exclusive interview with a Punch correspondent.
The Senator noted further that the current executive led by President Muhammadu Buhari has an anti-corruption mantra hence it should not be difficult for the recommendation by his committee to be implemented when eventually forwarded to the President.
In his words, “The President, who won his election on the mantra of anti-corruption, will approve the implementation of our report when it is passed on to him by the National Assembly.”
The SPAC chairman said officers who are found guilty will be made to pay back the funds to government coffers or face jail term.
He said, “Those agencies, particularly those that has to do with non-payment of taxes are usually indicted by the Office of the Auditor General when they erred.
“They ought to have collected five per cent withholding tax and 7.5 per cent Value Added Tax In terms of consultancy, they are expected to collect 10 per cent withholding tax.
“Government is expecting revenue from capital expenditure in terms of withholding taxes and value added tax.
“On any Federal Government capital expenditure now, we are expecting that a minimum of 12.5 per cent will return to government coffers. It is a way of ensuring that government gets money back when it is spending.
“Agencies that erred were told to go and reconcile their accounts with the Federal Inland Revenue Service or pay to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.”
Adding that “We also have cases of misuse of public funds and we directed those involved to go and pay.
“We have decided to personalise the verdict against the individual head of an agency who stole public fund when he or she was in office and the Chief accounting officer
“Any public officer who stole public funds some 10 years ago, would be contacted and made to give account, they risked being jailed if they failed to refund the money they stole while in office. There must be consequences or repercussions for certain misdeeds.
“Somebody who stole N10m about years ago would have invested it and he would be richer and financially comfortable to pay now.”