Nigeria Code Of Conduct Bureau

 

This is the second part of an article contributed by Mr Sam Saba, Secretary of the Nigerian Code of Conduct Bureau. The first part, uploaded on the July issue of the Newsletter, dealt with the establishment of the Bureau whereas this part deals with the operation of the Bureau.

Assets Declaration
Over the years the administration of assets declarations has taken a large chunk of the energy and resources of the Bureau partly because the Bureau did not have the powers to investigate complaints until recently.

The Bureau also succeeded in creating awareness among public officers on the constitutional provisions of assets declaration, while those who default are sent to the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

Though assets declaration is a constitutional provision for all public officers irrespective of status in service, the Bureau had for logistical reasons pegged the requirement to declare as it found convenient.

At inception only officers on salary grade level 14 and above (i.e. the management cadre) were requested to declare their assets.  Later the level was brought down to salary grade level 10.  Presently, the Bureau has requested officers on grade level 7 and above to declare their assets.  A lot of public enlightenment goes into this to get the desired results.  With time and depending on the level of financial and logistic support available to the Bureau, all public servants of grade level 1 and above shall be required to declare their assets to the Bureau.

A major function of the Bureau beyond taking custody of the forms is to verify the claims by declarants.  This is one activity that involves a lot of resources and logistics which the Bureau have in very short supply.  Another area of pressing need is developing a core of personnel skilled in verification, investigation and other operations of the Bureau.

The administration of assets declarations involves a mass of data that can only be managed effectively using Information Technology.  This is another area in which the Bureau needs to develop its capacity.

In the year 2000 for example a total of 90,554 forms were issued and 44,762 completed and returned into the custody of the Bureau.  In the same year details of a total of 1,363 defaulters were forwarded to the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

The Assets Declaration form in circulation has been revised into a simplified version for the purpose of computerization which will take place shortly.

Investigation and Monitoring
The Bureau, through its Department of Investigation and Monitoring, receives complaints from members of the public, of breaches of the code of conduct by public officers.  This ranges from indiscipline, abuse of office, lack of accountability, corruption and unethical conduct in government business, among others.

The power of investigation is a very recent addition to the powers conferred on the Bureau. Whilst the department has commenced the investigation of complaints and petitions sent to the Bureau, it has an urgent need to develop its capacity in this area through training and orientation on investigation and related matters. The Bureau would appreciate any assistance that will enable it develop a core of experts in this field.

In the year 2000, for example, the Bureau received a number of petitions against public officers out of which 49 are in various stages of investigation.

Public Enlightenment, Education and Advisory Services
The two earlier approaches to the implementation of the Bureau's mandate are judgmental in nature in that where there is non-compliance with the Code, judgements and sanctions follow.  While the need for enforcing the code through sanctions is imperative, the Bureau also has an instrument for approaching its mandate from the moralistic perspective.

The Department of Education and Advisory Services anchors its operations on the moral basis that people need to be told what is expected of them, what they should know and what they should not do, so that they will not ignorantly walk into the long arms of the law.

In carrying out this assignment, the Bureau organizes workshops, conferences, public forum, enlightenment programmes and advertisements through the electronic and print media.  It produces public enlightenment materials like the public officers handbook, posters and handbills for distribution to the public.

Conclusion
As a watchdog organization, the Code of Conduct Bureau welcomes inquiries into its activities and at the same time solicits input that will enhance its effective performance.

The ravaging effects of corruption within and beyond national boundaries are well known.  The anxiety that this has raised, has increased the resolve of individuals, institutions, national and international groups to fight it with a common and formidable front.

 

Mr. Sam Saba
Secretary
Nigerian Code of Conduct Bureau