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Buhari Goes Tough On Corruption In Civil Service

President Muhammadu Buhari Sets 24 Hours Deadline For Responses To Every Audit Query In His Administration With An Axe Dangling For Violators As PDP Warns Of ‘Communist Economic Agenda’

Tony Ailemen & Patrick Osadebamwen, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday set a new time limit for response to audit queries ordering that henceforth all audit queries must be responded to within 24 hours.

This is even as he directed the Auditor-General of the Federation to ensure that all outstanding audit queries are conclusively resolved within the next 30 days.

The new instructions were confirmed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu.

As he disclosed this, opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), warned that the President’s economic ideals were leading the country into a communist type economic agenda with the possibility of return of foreign exchange and import restrictions.

It said trade liberalization enjoyed over the years was being cut short by the administration. Mallam Shehu stated that President Buhari was uncomfortable with unnecessary bureaucratic bottlenecks preventing early response to such queries.

He said the President was “irrevocably committed to tackling administrative and bureaucratic corruption head-on, henceforth”. Speaking further on the issue, Mallam Shehu said the order became necessary, following the President’s displeasure on learning that audit queries remained unanswered for long periods, sometimes running into years.

“The era of impunity is gone. The President is taking the war on corruption to the civil service. He is not happy that standard operating procedures and financial regulations are no longer being observed as they should.

“President Buhari will ensure that public officials and civil servants in the service of the Federal Government pay a heavy price from now on for violating financial regulations or disregarding audit queries,” Mallam Garba said.

He added that the President was determined to put an end to the present situation in which, rather than respond to legitimate audit queries, violators of financial regulations in the Federal Government resort to threatening, bribing or mounting other forms of social pressure on auditors.

“On his watch, President Buhari wants to see firm action against those who violate extant financial regulations, not the prevarications and shenanigans that went on in the past in the form of endless probes and public inquiries”, he said. Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described the economic direction of President Buhari as “Communist Economic Agenda” that will not work.

The party in a statement made available to The Union alleged that President Buhari was plotting to replace Decree 17 of 1995 with a new law stressing that the Decree 17 empowers Nigerians to own domiciliary accounts.

According to the statement signed by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, “The PDP declares this administration’s archaic communist economic agenda as unworkable and unsustainable”.

The party said, “The most disturbing aspect of this communist economic agenda is the illegal and unlawful attempt to repeal the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Monitoring And Miscellaneous Provisions Act, otherwise known as Decree No 17 of 1995 and replace it with unilateral imposition of new regulations.

“This Act remains the subsisting law regulating the operations of domiciliary accounts in Nigeria and by its provisions therefore, Nigerians are empowered to freely open and operate domiciliary accounts. “As such, any enactment and or regulation inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are deemed void.

Thus, the recent foreign exchange transaction restrictions by this government are illegal, unlawful and void”, PDP stated. The Party also warned that the apparent absence of an economic team, in the third month of his administration, was leading the country into economic quagmire and doldrums.

The opposition party said, “We had given examples of the devastating effect of lack of an economic team and a clear-cut fiscal policy by this administration as evidenced in the lull and painful decline in the stock market, spiral rate of inflation, the disastrous outing of the government team in bilateral talks during the recent visit to the United States of America and the shambolic state of our economy at present.

“This confusion has been extended to operations and regulations of the foreign exchange transactions in Nigeria wherein the government is making it impossible for honest Nigerians to engage in free trade and regulate their personal activities as guaranteed by the constitution, and this is clearly an agenda to illegally impose a communist economic regime on Nigerians.

“In a desperate attempt to create a semblance of movement out of the clearly motionless and stoic state of affairs of this government, they have reeled out bans and complete clampdown on free trade.

One begins to wonder therefore whether we are not heading back to the era of import duty licenses and regulation of commodity prices”.

The PDP further told Buhari that “this is 2015 and not 1984; we remind him that trade and import restrictions are archaic and outdated; and we remind him that we are practising a proper democracy and not the dictatorship of the politburo under a communist regime”.

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