CONTRARY to the popular thinking that Nigeria is corrupt due to the incessant stealing of public funds by a few persons, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission has said that stealing is not corruption. According to the commission, most acts credited to corruption have no relationship with stealing. The ICPC chairman, Mr. Ekpo Nta, said this when a delegation from the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria visited the commission in Abuja to forge inter-agency partnership against corruption.
Nta noted that most Nigerians, including the educated, did not quite understand what constituted corruption and stressed that it was wrong to classify theft as such.
He said, “Stealing is erroneously reported as corruption. We must go back to what we were taught at school to show that there are educated people in Nigeria. We must address issues as we were taught in school to do.” The commission’s boss likened the penchant for referring to theft as corruption to the ordinary Nigerian who often called a roadside mechanic an engineer. Nta said almost every contractor often included engineering in their certificates of incorporation and advised COREN to liaise with the Corporate Affairs Commission to correct the anomaly.
According to him, there are only 23,000 registered engineers in Nigeria, whereas in practice the country has over 100,000 engineers with quacks being in the majority.The COREN delegation, led by its president, Mr. Kashim Ali, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the ICPC in a bid to flush out quacks in the profession. COREN said most engineering projects in the country were given to non-engineers, who were subsequently responsible for the outflow of much of the $63bn illicit funds out of Africa annually.
Ali lamented that most government ministries and other public sector establishments preferred to award engineering contracts to non-engineers. He said such non-professionals looked for engineers to do the jobs for them after they must have collected huge amounts of money that were taken out of the continent. The COREN president said, “Recently, there was a report from Oxfam that the illicit funds that go out of Africa every year is $63bn. When I got that report, I sat down and thought, in the whole of Africa, which countries even have up to $1bn in terms of revenue a year? I can only count Angola, South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria.
“So, if you now look at the resources available to the countries, then substantial amount of this money flows out of Nigeria. We do also know that more than 80 per cent of our resources are committed to infrastructure, which are mainly engineering projects, and this means that a substantial amount of that illicit outflow is from engineering projects.
“If we can restore engineering to engineers, our projects will be better delivered. The quality of our projects would be far higher than what we have today. What we have today is a situation where we manage the resources.”