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The CEPTi was brought about to engender social accountability, the mechanisms of which were initiated by the ICPC with the collaboration and support of citizens, especially the civil society organisations (CSOs). Social accountability is an ongoing and collective effort to hold public officials to account for the provision of public goods, such as primary healthcare, education, sanitation and the provision of social amenities…

The lack of accountability and transparency is a recipe for corruption in any system. Corruption and its ravaging effects have made resources for development almost non-existent over time. In order to stem pervasive corruption and ensure that resources and positions of authority are not misused, government created anti-corruption agencies with wide investigative powers, to not only prosecute those found culpable of corruption, but to also come up with preventive policies and programmes that promote accountability in governance.

Of the major pillars that define the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), for instance, are its enforcement, prevention and public enlightenment, and mobilisation mandates, as provided for in S.6 of the Act establishing the Commission.

In executing these mandates towards ensuring accountability in governance, the Commission came up with several initiatives, which are initiated and executed in collaboration with other stake holders. The most critical of these are Constituency and Executive Projects Tracking Initiative (CEPTi), Corruption Risk Assessment (CRA), National Values Curriculum, Ethics and Compliance Scorecard, System Study and Review, and the Town Hall meetings, amongst others.

It is imperative to situate the main theme of collaboration, investigations and accountability. The ICPC undertakes a unique kind of investigation, aimed primarily at ensuring accountability in public and private lives, and usually initiated by the public.

At the end of its investigation, the Commission would either recommend prosecution, where there is a manifest infraction of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, or any other law prohibiting corruption in any guise, such as the Public Procurement Act, Federal Character Act or even the Code of Conduct for Public Officers.

The Commission has, within the past two years, ensured that constituency projects are not only tracked and monitored to ensure their execution and attainment of value for money, but communities where these projects are sited take ownership of such projects and ensure the continuity and sustainability of the projects.

As a preventive measure towards ensuring accountability in governance, the Commission undertakes System Study and Review, which is a holistic approach that looks at certain components of an organisation’s structure and operations, aimed at removing vulnerabilities to corruption.

In like manner, the Corruption Risk Assessment also examines vulnerabilities and the possibilities of corruption happening in an organisation, with a view to deploying measures to mitigate such vulnerabilities. In the Ports sector, for example, several mitigation plans were embedded, such that the hitherto over 143 checks or signatures needed on documents before the release of cargoes, have been drastically reduced to not more than ten signatures, thereby freeing the sector of the usual bottlenecks and making the ports more competitive.

Another accountability tool employed by the Commission is the Ethics and Compliance Scorecard. Like the Systems Study Review and the Corruption Risk Assessment, this uses certain indicators to assess the level of adherence to business ethics and compliance with set standards in the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government. This is complementary to the Anti-Corruption Transparency Units (ACTU). The Ethics and Compliance Scorecard is also a measurement tool for gauging the effectiveness or otherwise of ACTUs in MDAs.

A practical demonstration of collaboration among critical stakeholders deployed in investigations towards ensuring accountability by the Commission is the Constituency and Executive Projects Tracking initiative (CEPTi). The state and non-state actors brought together by ICPC for the execution of this initiative have included the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF), Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation (OAuGF), Bank of Finance (BoF), Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), BudgIT, the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), the media, NGOs and CBOs.

The Commission has, within the past two years, ensured that constituency projects are not only tracked and monitored to ensure their execution and attainment of value for money, but communities where these projects are sited take ownership of such projects and ensure the continuity and sustainability of the projects.  The initiative ensures collaboration among all stakeholders to ensure accountability and transparency in the conception, execution and management of public funded projects.

From experience, and as outcomes of ICPC’s tracking exercise, it is clear that social accountability improves the quality of governance, contributes to increased development, alongside increases in the effectiveness of service delivery, and the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Beyond recoveries of huge sums of money and assets, as well as prosecutions in appropriate cases, the most important impact of this initiative is that hundreds of runaway contractors were compelled to return to sites to complete hitherto abandoned projects.

The CEPTi was brought about to engender social accountability, the mechanisms of which were initiated by the ICPC with the collaboration and support of citizens, especially the civil society organisations (CSOs). Social accountability is an ongoing and collective effort to hold public officials to account for the provision of public goods, such as primary healthcare, education, sanitation and the provision of social amenities, among others.

From experience, and as outcomes of ICPC’s tracking exercise, it is clear that social accountability improves the quality of governance, contributes to increased development, alongside increases in the effectiveness of service delivery, and the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Due to the fact that the Commission, being a public institution, does not have enough resources to finance all its activities, including certain collaborations, it is therefore imperative on all stakeholders, big and small, to find means to forge strong collaborations in the fight against corruption.

In rounding off, as society gets more sophisticated, so does crime, particularly economic crimes and corruption, which are becoming more convoluted and complex. While we must continue to deploy every investigative tool at our disposal to ensure transparency and accountability in the governance process, collaborative efforts must also be engendered to sustain social accountability and transparency in governance.

Bolaji Owasanoye (SAN), is the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

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