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$15bn for Defence funds unaccounted for – Osinbajo

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has said the Federal Government has discovered that about $15 billion meant the armed forces cannot be accounted for, over a period of time.
He was however silent on the number of years involved or the exact time.
Speaking at the 5th Annual Christopher Kolade Lecture on Business Integrity in Lagos on Thursday night, on the theme “Prevention is Better than Cure”, Osinbajo said recovery effort for such missing funds are very costly with no guarantee of success.
The Acting President therefore argued that effort to prevent corruption should be intensified.
He said, “In our investigation into defense spending, for example, which has taken a considerable period of time; we discovered something in the region of $15 billion in spending that cannot be accounted for.
“To put it in context, our entire budget for 2017 is approximately $24 billion. So $15 billion that is unaccounted for, with no guarantee that we would ever be able to recover everything, is the order of the kind of damage that have been done through corrupt actions.
“And as anyone who has been involved with asset recovery can tell you, it is very costly and extremely slow. We have to engage consultants, experts have to be hired.
“And even then, we would only have some hope that perhaps we would be able to recover some of what has been lost. In many cases, where the funds are abroad, the process of repatriation is slow and sometimes, there could be account of sovereign reluctance to return the money,” he stated.
He listed several steps already taken by the federal government to nip corruption in the bud, including the implementation of the Treasury Savings Account (TSA) and Bank Verification Number (BVN).
“So, while we are making every effort to recover monies illegally taken through corrupt means, we are equally taking steps to prevent acts of corruption. We have demonstrated that we are committed to making it harder than ever for government money to be stolen or diverted.
“Earlier on in the administration, August 2015, President Buhari issued an order mandating immediate compliance by ministries and agencies to the Treasury Savings Account (TSA) system.
“This simplified government accounting by ensuring that there is a central system of lead account that gives a clear picture of what is coming in and what is going out.
“Prior to TSA, government agencies maintained several accounts across multiple commercial banks. Since the commencement of TSA, we’ve closed more than 20,000 bank accounts, where few people have full range of those accounts and what went on in them.
“The TSA is now in operation with a central transparent system of account which is overseen by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“The TSA did not originate with us. We inherited the system but implemented that system and ensured that whatever we needed to do, we did not leave to the whims of bureaucracy.
“The Presidential order gave out a message that a new way of doing things has come.
“Another example worth highlighting is what we’ve done with the Bank Verification Number (BVN). Like the TSA, this, predated our administration.
“Where we’ve made a difference is in demonstrating the political will to magnify its application by ensuring its application to the federal payroll, we have been able to uncover up to 60,000 cases of ghost workers”, Osinbajo  said.
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