Saturday, June 6, 2015

Buhari’s anti-corruption war takes off

R-L; Former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon Justice Dahiru Musdaher, former Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Abdulrhman Dambazu; Zamfara State Governor, Alhaji Abdullaziz Yari Abubakar; President Muhammadu Buhari and his personal aide, Abba Sarki during a prayer in remembrance of Late Emir of Kano Alhaji Dr. Ado Bayero shortly after the Jumaat prayers at the National Mosque in Abuja, yesterday. Photo by Abayomi Adeshida
President Muham-madu Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade appears to have taken off in earnest barely a week after assuming office with a stern warning to ministers not to dabble into approving payments for contractors.

The government came boldly yesterday with a clear policy directive asking only the heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs not to abdicate their core functions to ministers who are political appointees but to do their jobs in strict compliance with the policy guidelines of the administration.

The Head of Service of Civil Service of the Federation, Mr Danladi Kifasi, made the new position of the government known at a media briefing in Abuja.

According to the Head of Service of the Federation, the government wants to keep the political class away from issues of finance so that development of our country can be sustained.

He said: “If a minister travels out and payment is due, we cannot afford to wait for the ministers to come back before we pay.”

Findings by Saturday Vanguard revealed that the HoSF was compelled to make the clarifications following a clash between permanent secretaries of major Federal Government ministries and former ministers in the Jonathan government over the payment of contractors.

Saturday Vanguard learnt that most permanent secretaries and directors of accounts in the ministries and MDAs fell out with many of the immediate past ministers following their refusal to pay contractors favoured by them for jobs approved and awarded through the backdoor by the ministers in their last effort to make quick money out of the system.

The clash between a former minister and a serving permanent secretary is said to have degenerated into a near major scandal in one of the major Federal Government ministries in Abuja which deals with land and development of infrastructure.

The minister was reported to have hurriedly approved the award of many contracts for companies said to be close to him and later ordered the permanent secretary to pay the affected contractors, an order, which the civil servant bluntly turned down, thereby entering into the bad books of the former minister.

To reverse the trend as the Buhari government takes off, the HoSF, warned that henceforth, no permanent secretary should allow themselves to be misdirected by any minister in the award and payment for contracts.

Kifasi who cleared what he described as a misconception of political appointees to approve payment for contracts, made it clear that approval of payments for contracts are strictly the jurisdiction of accounting officers or directors of the various ministries.

The Head of Service, who was apparently in support of the refusal of permanent secretaries to pay contractors approved for payment by out-gone ministers, explained that both the Procurement Act and extant government circulars clearly define the roles of the civil servants relating to contract awards and payment.

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