By Emma Okonji
The Managing Director of SystemSpecs, Mr. John Obaro, has enjoined the federal and state governments, regulators as well as other players in the private and public sectors of the Nigerian economy to leverage technology to tackle the menace of corruption and illicit flow of funds.
Obaro, made the call recently, when he shared his thoughts during a panel discussion at a 2-day Africa Regional Webinar on Combating Corruption and Illicit Financial Flows in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).
At the event where Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, delivered the keynote address, Obaro noted the damage corruption was inflicting on Nigeria and the need to put in place a system driven by technology to minimise human intervention, reduce the use of discretion in financial matters, encourage the adoption of an end-to-end digital system, fully embrace a cashless economy and minimise the time to justice.
According to Obaro, “It is indisputable that as a nation we must now, more than ever, know everyone and update their data as they progress through life. It is, therefore, time we took a critical look at our identity management system and converge all data that exist in various silos, for national good.”
He also emphasised the need to deploy and enforce clear budgeting processes and ensure procurement systems are automated.
Obaro, noted that the execution of smart contracts and clear tax laws can go a long way in minimising the use of discretion, especially in the management of public funds.
Obaro, on his part, encouraged the Nigerian government to work towards a system that digitises processes across various facets of life including our electoral system.
“At the earlier stage of Treasury Single Account (TSA) implementation in Nigeria, people presented receipts they had used before – a practice from the pre-TSA era. However, as a result of the checks put in place through technology, that old practice that let people defraud the system was put to an end,” Obaro said, adding that the country can take advantage of this current period to encourage individual and corporate citizens to minimise the use of cash and instead adopt the digital channels.
“It is time to truly go digital,” he said, while identifying the need to adopt a workable system whereby e-payment would be the major avenue for transactions, promote financial inclusion and encourage a credit culture in which people would not need to amass resources before they can acquire the essential needs of life like housing and shelter,” he added.
In address, vice president Osinbajo said: “Our experience in Nigeria as in other developing countries is that anonymous corporate ownership covers a multitude of sins including conflict of interests, corruption, tax evasion, money laundering, and even terrorism financing.”
He added the need to protect those that fight corruption, saying, “we must protect, even more, whistle-blowers – persons who come forward with information against corruption.”