Buhari places travel restriction on ministers, makes other changes

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has placed travel restriction on his Ministers.

 

The Ministers can only travel out of the country eight times in a year.

This was disclosed on Monday by the Minister of Information, Culture & Tourism Minister Lai Mohammed.

According to him, Buhari has directed that no Minister should go on foreign trips more than twice in a quarter.

Also, according to Mohammed, no minister on a trip outside the shores of the land should go with more than four aides.

Government officials below the rank of ministers are henceforth entitled to fewer aides, Lai Mohammed disclosed.

Besides, estacode would no longer be calculated on hourly basis.

He said, “The Administration’s fight against corruption is progressing on all fronts, including institutional reforms, loot recovery and prosecution of alleged corrupt persons. As you are aware, this is one of the cardinal programmes of the Administration, with the others being the revamping of the economy (which I have just dwelt on extensively) and tackling insecurity (which I will touch on in the

course of this press conference)

“The Administration took a major step forward in the fight against corruption when it launched the Financial Transparency Policy and Portal, also known as Open Government. The Transparency Policy mandates the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) to publish a Daily Treasury Statement, which will provide information about what comes into the national treasury and what goes out every day. Under the policy, the Accountant General of the Federation and all Accounting Officers must publish Daily Payments Reports.

“With these reports, the Treasury will publish payments of at least 10 million

Naira while all MDAS must publish payments above 5 million Naira made

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out of all public funds in their care. The information to be published must include the Ministry, Department and Agency (MDA) responsible, the beneficiary, the purpose and amount of each payment. Accounting Officers are responsible for providing answers to any questions from

the public relating to transactions completed by entities under their

charge.

“The AGF was also mandated to publish monthly Fiscal Accounts detailing the fiscal performance of the Federation, including receipts from all the collection agencies and payments out of the Federation Account.

“This must be done within 14 days after the end of the month. The AGF and all Accounting Officers of MDAs must publish Quarterly Financial Statements for the government as a whole and for individual MDAS respectively.

“President Muhammadu Buhari said the reason for implementing the policy is to cement government’s commitment to improving governance and supplementing the recently-launched Whistle-blower Policy and equipping the general population with the tools they need to report financial wrongdoing. This policy is unprecedented and will go a long way in enhancing transparency in governance and curtailing public

sector corruption (The portal can be accessed through: https:opentreasury.gov.ng)

“Similarly, in its effort to block leakages and promote transparency in the management of resources, the President this year approved additional cost-saving measures, particularly in the area of official travels. Under the new policy, all MDAs are required to submit their Yearly Travel Plans for statutory meetings and engagements to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and/or the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation for express clearance within the first quarter of the fiscal year, before implementation. They are further required to make their presentation using the existing template and also secure approvals on specific travels as contained in the plan, from the appropriate quarters.

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“On the Nature and Frequency of travels, all public-funded travels (local and foreign), must be strictly for official purposes backed with documentary evidence. In this regard, all foreign travels must be for highly-essential statutory engagements that are beneficial to the interest of the country. Except with the express approval of Mr.

President, Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Chairmen of Extra Ministerial Departments, Chief Executive Officers and Directors are restricted to not more than two (2) foreign travels in a quarter.

“Also, when a Minister is at the head of an official delegation, the size of such delegation shall not exceed four (4) including the relevant Director, Schedule Officer and one (1) Aide of the Minister. Every other delegation below ministerial level shall be restricted to a maximum of three (3).

“For Class of Air Travels, the President has approved that Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Special Advisers, Senior Special Assistants to the President, Chairmen of Extra-Ministerial Departments and Chief Executive Officers of Parastatals who are entitled, to continue to fly Business Class, while other categories of Public Officers are to travel on Economy Class.

“Also, travel days will no longer attract

payment of Estacode Allowances as duration of official trips shall be limited to only the number of days of the event as contained in the supporting documents to qualify for public funding.

“The fight against corruption also gained momentum within the period, with high profile convictions. Between January and October 2019 alone, that’s a period of 10 months, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) secured 890 convictions. This is the highest anywhere in the world. Recall that in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, the EFCC was only able to secure 103, 189, 190 and 202 convictions respectively.

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“The high rate of convictions in 2019 is in addition to the billions of naira in looted funds that have been recovered by the EFCC. For its part, the ICPC has launched a novel project of tracking

the huge resources allocated to constituency projects over the years.

“The Commission has started with the education and health sectors and,

already, many contractors who abandoned their projects are returning

to site. The Commission has also launched the WAHALA DEY app, which is a one-stop shop for daily information from the ICPC, and for Nigerians to report acts of corruption.

“Let me reiterate what I said before: This is not the first time Nigeria is fighting the canker-worm of corruption, but it is the first time that the fight is being backed by a strong political will, with a President renowned for his honour, dignity and incorruptibility personally leading the fight. And that is making all the difference.

“I have also said that while the war against corruption is still a war in progress, it is also fair to say that corruption has now been driven under the table, and that the corrupt ones can no longer flaunt the proceeds of their corruption the way they used to do in the past. That is a major step forward. After all, every successful battle is a step towards winning a war.”

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