The Federal Government yesterday in Lagos hailed the global endorsement of its anti-corruption fight, calling it an incentive to continue with the battle that must be won for the nation to achieve sustainable growth.
Recently, the US Secretary of State, Mr John Kerry, at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, commended the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for its effort at combating corruption in Nigeria.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, told media executives that the acknowledgement of the determined effort by the government could not have come at a better time.
‘’The Federal Government is delighted that the anti-corruption war being led by President Muhammad Buhari has been acknowledged and applauded on a global stage. ‘’It is particularly gratifying that in that speech, Mr Kerry made the link between corruption and terrorism. We agree that corruption is indeed a radicaliser because it destroys faith in legitimate authority.
“Let me remind you, gentlemen, that radicalisation is a key causative factor of terrorism,’’ the minister said. Mohammed said that he would soon kick-start a series of town hall meetings across the country to take the sensitization campaign, which he launched in Abuja last Monday, directly to Nigerians.
The town hall meetings, he said, would be in addition to using the National Orientation Agency (NOA) and the relevant units of the Ministry of Information and Culture to reach every part of the country.
‘’We know that those who stole us dry are powerful. They have newspapers, radio and television stations and an army of supporters to continuously deride the government’s war against corruption. “But we are undaunted and will not relent until corruption is also decimated,’’ the minister said. Mohammadu said that corruption was responsible for the endemic poverty in the country today, noting that whereas Nigeria’s national budget has increased from just over N900 billion in 1999 to over N6 trillion in 2016, poverty has also increased almost by the same proportion.
‘’The reason is not far-fetched: Appropriated funds have mostly ended up in the pockets of a few looters,’’ he said. ‘’When the money meant to construct roads is looted, the end result is that the roads are not built and the people suffer and even die in avoidable road accidents.
“When the money meant to provide electricity is looted, we all are perpetually sentenced to darkness. When the money meant for healthcare is pocketed by a few, we are unable to reduce maternal and infant mortality.
These are the costs of corruption,’’ he said. According to Mohammed, whereas the sum of N51.829 billion was appropriated for 1,278 projects in the Zonal Intervention Projects for 2015, a total of 21 individuals and companies benefited from the ‘Dasukigate’ to the tune of N54.659 billion.
“The implication is that the amount received by 21 individuals and companies is more than the 2015 Zonal Intervention Project budget by N2.829 billion!
‘’Furthermore, the value of what the beneficiaries of ‘Dasukigate’ contributed to development is zero, compared to how the lives of Nigerians would have been transformed, poverty reduced and livelihoods improved, by the Zonal Intervention Projects which – as we have shown – would have cost N2.829 billion less than ‘Dasukigate’,’’ the Minister said.
He said that contrary to what was being said in certain circles— that the government was dwelling too much on the war against corruption to the detriment of other areas of governance— enough time could not be devoted to the fight.
‘’The situation is very grim indeed, as far as corruption is concerned. That is why the Federal Government is embarking on this sensitization Campaign. “Our approach – which is to count the cost of corruption – is not to vilify anyone but to use facts and figures to give Nigerians a sense of what corruption has done to their lives,’’ the Minister said.
Obasanjo, Abdulsalami, Sultan, Others Brainstorm On Insecurity
Rising insecurity and agitations for secession by different ethnic groups across Nigeria has attracted the attention of elder statesmen and other national leaders to a meeting in Abuja.
The meeting was organised by Interfaith Initiatives for Peace jointly led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, and Emeritus Cardinal John Onaiyekan, and the National Peace Committee chaired by Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd).
Reporters were barred from taking part in the closed-door meeting, expected to proffer solutions to the ongoing security challenges threatening the peace and unity of the country.
It was also an exploratory meeting on pressing issues of national unity, security, peace, integration, economic revitalisation and development, women and youth welfare and general progress.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo; former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar (rtd); Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar; Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi; Tor Tiv, Prof Ortese Iorzua James Ayatse, Emeritus Cardinal John Onaiyekan; President General (Ohanaeze Ndigbo), Prof George Obiozor; and Afenifere leader, Ayo Adebanjo; were all in attendance.
Others sighted at the meeting are President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba; CAN General Secretary, Joseph Daramola; JAMB Registrar, Prof Ishaq Oloyede; Etsu Nupe, Yahya Abubakar; former Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, among several political and traditional rulers at the meeting.
Elder statesmen, Chief Edwin Clark, also attended the event at the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, but could not participate in the meeting because he could not climb the staircase to the meeting room.
Fighting Corruption Difficult In Democratic Setting, Buhari Laments
President Muhammadu Buhari says fighting corruption in democratic setting is a difficult task to accomplish.
The president disclosed this during an interview with Arise Television which was televised, yesterday.
According to him, the war against corruption has not been easy for him since he became a democratically elected president six years ago.
He, however, stressed that his administration had succeeded in easing out corrupt public officials without making noise about it.
Buhari recalled that much was achieved in the fight against corruption when he was military Head of State in the early 80s “when a lot of people were sent to prisons before I was also booted out”.
The president frowned at the way and manner local government system was being managed, saying the local government administration was almost non-existent in the country.
He cited situation where state governors continued to starve the local governments of funds saying “in a situation where N300million is allocated to local government and they are given N100million is not fair”.
On activities of bandits and kidnappers particularly in the North-West and North-Central zones, Buhari said he had given the police and Armed Forces the instructions to be ruthless with bandits and vandals terrorising innocent citizens across the country.
He stated that he had told the security agencies to treat bandits and other criminals in the “the language they understand.
“Problem in the north-west; you have people over there stealing each other’s cattle and burning each other’s villages.
“Like I said, we are going to treat them in the language they understand.
“We have given the police and the military the power to be ruthless. You watch it in a few weeks’ time there will be difference.
”Because we told them if we keep people away from their farm, we are going to starve. And the government can’t control the public.
“If you allow hunger, the government is going to be in trouble and we don’t want to be in trouble.
“We are already in enough trouble. So, we warn them sooner than later you’ll see the difference,’’ he said.
On farmers/herders clashes, the president said the problem had persisted because old cattle routes and grazing areas had been violated by development, adding that those who had taken over such traditional arrangements would be dispossessed.
On the fight against insurgency, Buhari dismissed the assertion that majority of Boko Haram members were foreigners.
According to him, the majority of the Boko Haram members are Nigerians, saying this was further corroborated by Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum.
The president stated that his administration had done a lot to fight the terrorists and insurgents but the problem in the “North-East is very difficult.”
Igboho Declares June 12 Day Of Protest, Warns Buhari
Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, has declared June 12 as day of protest for Yoruba nation agitators.
The self-acclaimed Yoruba activist said the agitators will hold ‘peaceful rallies’ across the South-West region on Saturday, June 12.
Igboho, who spoke through his spokesman, Olayomi Koiki, in a live video programme aired, last Wednesday night, called on South-West governors to cooperate with the peaceful protesters during the exercise.
He warned the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration not to attack the agitators.
He said, “Let us warn the Federal Government that if there is bloodshed this weekend, the international community is watching, if the military kills any Nigerian this weekend, it is going to be very hot.
“The Yoruba nation rally will go ahead in every part of Yoruba land and the rest of the country where it will hold.
“Red alarm will begin on Friday. People should stock up food Items from Friday night.
“We are not backing down this weekend; we are ready to take back what belongs to us.”
He also enjoined agitators to ‘fast’ on Friday.
This is coming after NANS under the leadership of its National President, Comrade Sunday Asefon, had declared June 12 as National Day of peaceful protest to call on the government to act decisively towards addressing insecurity.
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