President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday declared that corruption in the education sector undermined federal government’s investment in education.
He said incessant strikes by unions created the impression that government was underfunding education.
He said contrary to such assertions, the academic unions were no less complicit in the systemic corruption in the sector.
The president spoke as the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Professor Bola Owasanoye, said the agency had escalated its anti-corruption drive in tertiary institutions and Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDA).
Speaking at the 4th National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector themed: “Corruption and the Education Sector” organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in conjunction with the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), Joint Admission and Matriculation (JAMB) with support from MacArthur Foundation, President Buhari said corruption from the basic to tertiary levels of education greatly undermined government’s investment in the sector.
He also called on stakeholders to demand accountability in the administration of academic institutions and for unions to interrogate the bloated personnel and recurrent expenditure of their institutions even as he implored the unions to work with government to put faces and identities to names on the payroll.
“Incessant strikes especially by unions in the tertiary education often imply that government is grossly underfunding education, but I must say that corruption in the education system from basic level to the tertiary level has been undermining our investment in the sector and those who go on prolonged strikes on flimsy reasons are no less complicit.
“Government and stakeholders in the educational sector are concerned about the manifestation of various forms of corruption in the education sector. I am aware that students in our universities for example, use different terminologies to describe different forms of corruption they experience on our campuses.
“There is sorting or cash for marks/grades, sex for marks, sex for grade alterations, examination malpractice, and so on,” he said.
“Sexual harassment has assumed an alarming proportion. Other forms of corruption include pay-roll padding or ghost workers, lecturers taking up full time appointments in more than one academic institution, including private institutions, lecturers writing seminar papers, projects and dissertations for students for a fee, and admission racketeering, to mention only the most glaring corrupt practices.
“I am happy to note that ICPC is investigating and prosecuting sexual harassment as abuse of power in our educational institutions. I approve and encourage them to continue to do so,” he said.
Buhari affirmed that government will continue to fund education within realistically available revenue and urged stakeholders, including the media to advocate for transparency in the amount generated as internally generated revenue by educational institutions and how such funds are expended.
“Corruption in the expenditure of internally generated revenue of tertiary institutions is a matter that has strangely not received the attention of stakeholders in tertiary education, including unions.
“I call on stakeholders to demand accountability in the administration of academic institutions and for unions to interrogate the bloated personnel and recurrent expenditure of their institutions. Let me also implore the unions to work with government to put faces and identities to names on the payroll,” he said.
“I believe that the role of government in education is to guarantee access and establish minimum benchmarks for quality education. Due to declining resources, government cannot bear the cost of funding education alone. I task our academics to attract endowments, research and other grants to universities, polytechnics and colleges of education similar to what obtains in other countries,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Professor Bola Owasanoye, said the agency had escalated its anti-corruption drive in tertiary institutions and Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDA).
“For the education sector, we collaborated with other institutions including NUC and NBTE and much more recently with JAMB our co-host for this event.
“With JAMB and DSS, we conducted last year a series of undercover operations across the country on corruption in the university admissions processes leading to the busting of syndicates and arrest of its leaders responsible for compromising IJMB and JUPEB.”
He said ICPC had constituted a special team on investigation and prosecution of
sexual harassment in secondary and tertiary institutions.
“In collaboration with civil society we are in the process of introducing a model policy on sexual harassment for academic institutions to adopt we have also secured some major convictions including of a professor,” he said.
“In support of government’s effort to improve revenue generation the Commission continues to investigate diversion of tax and other statutory revenues as part of routine investigation and has recovered N1.264b this fiscal year,” he said.