The Chairman, Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), Prof. Mohammed Isah, has decried the low compliance level of public officers in the declaration of asset, particularly those in the top echelon of ministries departments and agencies of government saying, “I believe this may not be unconnected with the fear of the unknown; it is more to the advantage of a public officer to declare his assets than to decline”.
Speaking at a workshop on ‘Compliance with the Provisions of the Code of Conduct for Nigerian Armed Forces Personnel jointly organized by the Defence headquarters and the CCB, Prof Isah noted, “that the enlightenment workshop is an aspect of the preventive measures the bureau undertakes to sensitize public officers and the general public on the code of conduct for public officers as contained in part 1 of the fifth schedule, to the 1999 constitution (as amended).
“It is the strong belief of the CCB that when top public functionaries of government are well aware and abide by these codes of conduct for public officers, the need for the application of punitive measures would be minimized to the lowest ebb, if not eliminated thereby reducing the resources expended on prosecution of cases.
Reiterating the powers of the CCB, under part 1 of the third schedule to the 1999 CFRN, as an anti-corruption agency, Isah said, “It is within the bureau’s power to ensure compliance with 14 code(s) of conduct for public officers and to enforce any law incidental thereto. Assets declaration is only one out of the 14 codes, the bureau enforces.
Emphasizing that the mandate of the CCB extends to every public officer/armed forces personnel as stakeholder, he said declaration of assets has become pragmatic and momentous following the political will of the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, to make the fight against corruption as one of the cardinal agenda of this administration.
“The President’s policy thrust on probity, accountability, and transparency, as a way of doing government’s business is not only encouraging, but gives the necessary impetus and enthusiasm to each and every one of us to position himself as appropriate in this campaign” he said.
“We can only achieve this as public officers by conforming to the principles of the public office which include, Selflessness in favour of public interest; Integrity; Objectivity; Accountability; Openness; Honesty and Leadership by Example”, he added.
In his remarks at the occasion, Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin disclosed that the seminar is
important especially for senior officers, who, not only draw funds from government’s coffer, but are also responsible for the resources at their disposal.
He said, “As I have always stressed, every officer who holds a position of responsibility must also be accountable. You are also aware that accountability is one of the cornerstones in the fight against corruption which is one of
Mr President’s 3-point agenda.
“As I have been rightly informed, one of the objectives of this workshop is to educate and sensitize officers and men of the Armed Forces of Nigeria on the code of conduct and other constitutional responsibilities. As members of the Armed Forces, strict compliance with the provisions of the Code of Conduct is an opportunity to express a transparent stewardship in our day to day activities.
“It is my belief therefore that at the end of this 2-day workshop, you would have acquired sufficient knowledge and reasons why you must be compliant in your asset declarations and other requirements of the Code of Conduct Bureau.
“On a general note, since my assumption of office as the Chief of Defence Staff, I have always canvassed and pursued a system that emphasizes judicious use of scarce resources to optimize value for the limited resources at our disposal.
“The procurement process has been re-organized to ensure transparency and full compliance with the guidelines of the Bureau for Public Procurement. The implication of this is that we have been able to cut down waste and ensure judicious utilization of funds.
“I enjoin all participants at this workshop to take advantage of the training alongside the presence of some staffs of the Code of Conduct Bureau to thoroughly understand the requirement for assets declaration. Let me also stress that you would be required to pass on the knowledge acquired during this workshop to your subordinates in your various departments and agencies.”
Earlier, the Chief of Policy and Plans, Defence headquarters, AVM Charles Oghomwem noted that the 2 day workshop will begin with 2 lectures on “Code of Conduct Act and Code of Ethics in Government Business” and “Form Code of Conduct Bureau 1” which will dovetail into practical sessions. There will also be 2 papers on the second day covering “Conflicts of Interest: Issues and Challenges” and “Service Ethics and Problems on Non Compliance among Public Officers”.
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