The Chairman-designate of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, has lamented the high level of corruption in Nigerian universities and other tertiary institutions.
He said there was a need to strengthen the integrity of the procurement process in general and particularly in universities in order to curb corrupt practices among administrators.
Owasanoye, who is the current Executive Secretary of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, said this while delivering a lecture at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, last Friday.
He said, “There is an urgent need to streamline and strengthen the integrity of the procurement process generally and in universities in particular. Procurement remains a major source of corruption in public institutions and universities are not left out.
“One reason for this is the bureaucracy involved in the process. Due to the volume of investment required in infrastructure it is the public sector which contracts out jobs to the private sector while governments plays the role of both client and regulator.
“In some cases, government owns construction companies or uses direct labour for projects. In the light of this conflict of roles and interests, the regulation of the construction sector, although necessary, is difficult, nebulous and poorly enforced.
“Because corruption risk increases with contract size, complexity, high level technology, presence of excessive discretion in one officer or entity, such as vice chancellors, et cetera, it becomes imperative to have clear guidelines. The more money involved, the higher the potential for kickbacks.”
He said that some of the projects completed through direct labour by the Works and Services Units of some universities had turned out to be the worst on campuses, saying there were reports of collapse of some of these projects.
“One of such incidents occurred in 2016 in respect of a TETFUND, supported project at the Kano State University of Technology, Wudil.
“These incidents occur because goods and services are purchased from the best bribers, rather than based on best price- quality combination. Thus we find in tertiary institutions and academic environments fund allocation to sectors where opportunities for kickbacks or bribery is high such as in construction to the neglect of other sectors like the core education of students,” he added.
Owasanoye also noted that corruption had continued to thrive in the education sector because most Nigerians had turned a blind eye to it.
The PACAC secretary warned that no anti-corruption campaign could be successful without the support of the citizens, who are in a position to monitor the activities of public officers and their collaborators in the private sector.