19th October, 2021
By: Alex A. Bah, Communications Officer, ACC
Since the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in 2000 to date, consistent progress has been made in taking the necessary steps; public education, assets declaration, investigations and prosecutions, with the aim to curb graft, which is a menacing terror that has stalled and terrorized our nation. Yet, corruption remains prevalent. However, systems review edges as a very assuring brand designed as a proactive step in addressing this moral atrocity- corruption.
Corruption has for far too long been normalized as a status symbol in society, especially for those occupying public offices. Like assets declaration, which is a major stride to guide and regulate public officers, systems review is equally a system that the Prevention Department of the ACC uses primarily to prevent corruption in public institutions. It is primarily to identify Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) with apparent corruption vulnerabilities, request their guiding systems and policies, conduct thorough review of those systems and develop best practice guides.
Pursuant to Section 7 subsection 2 (f) of the Anti-Corruption Commission Act of 2008, as amended in 2019, the Commission is tasked “to examine the practices of public bodies in order to facilitate the discovery of corrupt practices or acts of corruption and to secure revision of those practices and procedures which in the opinion of the Commission, may lead to or be conducive to corruption or corrupt practices.”
In a bid for MDAs to fully comply with systems reviews and fully implement best practices guide, the ACC has the mandate to effect and enforce compliance with corresponding penalties for defaulters through the provisions embedded in Section 8 (1) & (2) of the Anti-Corruption Commission Act of 2008 as amended in 2019: “A public body shall, not later than three months of receipt of instructions from the Commission pursuant to paragraph (h) of subsection (2) of section 7 effect the necessary changes in practices and procedures. Where a public body considers that the changes in practices and procedures as contained in the instructions would be impracticable or otherwise disadvantageous to the effective discharge of its duties, the public body shall make representations to the Commissioner in writing, within seven days of receipt of the instructions.”
This represents how important these activities are to the work of the Commission. In 2020, the Commission having realized the non-compliance of certain MDAs, it patterned an approach of using prevention and cooperation, by developing with the support of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), a Compliance Management and Sanctions Enforcement Procedure Handbook to replace the 2011 Ernst and Young Manual which met limited successes and huge challenges. This is to ensure MDAs fully own and act upon the recommendations proffered. Since this manual came into effect, reviews have been conducted in five MDAs with ongoing review at the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM).
Systems review is a proactive step in the fight against graft, and less expensive compared to investigation and prosecution. It represents conscious efforts to initiate a culture of integrity in public service delivery that will eliminate the opportunities for corruption to occur. It is key in the fight, in order to redeem the nation from the clutches of individuals that have the inclination that public service is a swift way to dwell in unexplained luxury, brazenly display wealth and be chauffeured in extortionate vehicles.