By Angela Atabo
The Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA), on Monday said saved N594, 089,136,242.41 billion from auditing Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) between 2016 and 2018.
Mr Johnson Oludare, Assistant Director, Special Investigation and Assignment, PICA made this known during a media workshop on “Whistle-blowing and Fight Against Corruption in Nigeria’ ’ in Keffi, Nasarawa state.
The event was organised by African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) in Nasarawa.
Oludare said that the Federal Government approved the Whistle-blowing policy of the Ministry of Finance in November 2016 to deter corruption and management of public funds among others..
He said that in 2016, PICA saved N97, 939,974,344.25 billion, made up of N192, 000,000.00 recovery of salaries paid to ex-diplomats, N15,560,800,000.00 from reduction in personnel cost to MDAs and N30,280,863,588.72 payroll shortfall verification.
Oludare said the 2016 money saved also include: N33, 106,310,755.53 reduction in the regular allowances at the Armed Forces and the para-military agencies and N11,000,000,000.00 saved from the personnel cost of non- IPPIS MDAs.
He said that N7, 800,000,000.00 was also saved in 2016 from reduction in the non-regular allowances at the health institutions.
“In 2017,N110,461,098,196.00 was saved; ranging from N14,350,836,000.00 saved from reduction in personnel cost for MDAs and N3,600,000,000.00 saved from reduction in the non-regular allowances of health institutions.
“The 2017, N36, 607,557,616.59 was also saved from personnel verification phase I, N32, 394,067,541.11 in phase II and N23,508,637,038.30 was saved in phase 111 of the exercise.
“In 2018, N387,888,899,702.16 was saved, N24,753,859,825.43 saved from monthly personnel cost audit from January to June 2018 and N41,177,822,662,76 from verification from MDAs and N85,815,528.04 saved from whistleblower prosecution.
“Savings from Nigeria Airways verification amounted to N30, 000,000,000.00 and N285,871,401,685.93 was saved from oil marketing verification and N6,000,000,000.00 was saved from military pension verification.’’
Oludare said though the unit had achieved the feat, it was, however, challenged by the absence of legal framework, adequate funding and bottlenecks in investigation due to inter-agency bureaucracy.
He said that although Nigeria had many laws to deal with different forms of corruption and other improper behaviours, the laws were not always effective.
Oludare advised that there should be a legal framework to protect whistle blowers and strengthen the relationship between the various anti-corruption agencies, to enhance their capabilities and capacities.
He also stressed the need to develop a framework for harmonising all existing bills relating to whistle blowing and disclosure in the National Assembly (NASS).
He said that effort was ongoing to harmonise and document all achievements recorded by various anti-corruption agencies. among others.
Earlier, Mr Chido Onumah, Coordinator, AFRICMIL said that the centre had been following up on the government’s whistleblowing policy for two years under its Corruption Anonymous (CORA) programme.
Onumah said the aim was basically to create awareness around the policy to enable people know about it and to enhance effective participation.
He said it wasl also to interrogate the process as well as the integrity of the process to ensure it worked properly and protect whistleblowers from harassment and victimisation.
The Coordinator said that more needed to be done on the whistle blowing policy to guarantee mass participation by Nigerians.
According to Onumah, this is why the centre is engaging the media organisations, to equip them with more knowledge on the policy.
‘’The media training is to also guarantee a relationship between AFRICMIL, PICA, and the media, to participate in the area of protection for whistle blowers and how to report their stories,’’ he said.