Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, blamed the slow developmental pace of the country’s educational and health sectors on continuous theft of public funds.
This was as he said all efforts invested overtime to fight corruption may never yield any result if not backed with severe consequences.
Osinbajo spoke at the public presentation of the Integrity Club and Zero Tolerance Club Manuals organised by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, held at Model Secondary School, in Abuja.
The Integrity Club and Zero Tolerance Club Manuals is an initiative by the EFCC to serve as an instrument to inculcate the spirit of integrity and to serve as guidance in raising a more ethically grounded generation of Nigerians.
He said: “Today, when you hear yahoo, yahoo, you will find out that there are people who justify it, saying it is because they don’t have money or it is because they are bored that’s why they are into it. No, that’s not true. There are many poor young people all over the world in different countries.
“The difference is the consequence. If you know that you will be caught and dealt with, you will not do it and you must also recognise that it destroys the reputation of your country and that reputation is important because you want to go abroad to study; because you want to do business abroad and do business with people. If the only thing people have ever heard is that these people are 419. If that’s the only reputation that there is, you are in trouble.
“Every public officer who steals robs the Nigerian society of funds, of health care, and education. Every time a public officer steals money whether the man is from your tribe or from your village or not because people excuse stealing when it comes from their own part of the world, and say it is ok after all it is my brother or sister but never forget that everybody, every public officer that steals money makes it very difficult for you to access good education, good health care, good roads, etc because public money is not for private pockets, it is meant for the public good, it is meant for public infrastructure. So, anybody pocketing public resources does harm to the country and the future and to all of the young people in our country.”
He, therefore, called on the Nigerian youths to join in the fight against corruption, pointing out that they are significant players in the nation’s developmental process.
“So, I want to say to the young people here in particular that you represent the army that must fight corruption, not because it seems like a nice thing to do, no, because your future depends on it.
“The reputation of your country is all that you will have in the next few years. Whatever you want to do, it is that reputation and those who destroy the reputation of the country are not doing you good. They are doing you a great evil. You must ensure that you join the army to fight corruption, to fight dishonesty because it is simply dangerous. Not just for you but for the entire society and for the future”, he said.
In his remarks, the Executive Chairman, EFCC, Abdurasheed Bawa, said it was imperative for school children to get acquainted with issues concerning economic and financial crimes.
He added that the Integrity Club and Zero Tolerance Club Manuals would not only imbue a culture of integrity in the formative years of youths and children but would expose them to the need for honesty, transparency and accountability in their dealings.
He said: “The choice of school children and youths as torch-bearers in this important crusade is informed by the fact that they are not only vulnerable to the effects of economic and financial crimes but retain the potential of breaking with the past years of decadence, to deliver the much cherished destiny of our nation as a corrupt-free society.
“Consequently, we have designed programmes and activities aimed at nurturing a culture of integrity in the formative years of this young population. Two of such programmes are the EFCC Integrity Club for primary schools and the Zero Tolerance Club for tertiary institutions.
“The clubs are designed not only to improve children and youth understanding and sensitivity to the issues of economic and financial crimes but as a deliberate intervention to imbue them with values which underpin integrity, honesty, transparency and accountability to influence their behaviour and character formation.
“Some of the activities through which we have sought to achieve this value orientation include but are not limited to the following rules: plays, visual arts, creative writing, poetry, games, dramas, lectures, workshops, music shows, road walks, etc.”
He, however, called for partnership with States Education Boards by mandating all the schools under their supervision to establish EFCC integrity clubs.
He extended partnership calls to vice chancellors, rectors and provosts of universities, polytechnic and colleges of education across the country.
CAS Lauds Troops For Exceptional Performance In South-East Operation
Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, has lauded Nigerian Air Force (NAF) troops for exceptional performance in ongoing Joint Task Force in the South-East code-named “Operation Udo Ka II”.
Abubakar said this yesterday in Enugu during his maiden visit and tour of operational and training assets and facilities within NAF Ground Training Command (GTC), Enugu.
He noted that NAF troops had done exceptionally well and recorded series of success in the joint operation meant to keep the South-East safe and secured for all.
The CAS noted that the GTC Command was highly important to NAF as it housed the ground component (non technical component) as well as a unit of air component necessary to ensure the attainment of the mandate of NAF.
He said: “Today, we are in Enugu, which is the host of the GTC Command in our maiden visit and we are here to interact with the NAF personnel, see the facilities and infrastructure on ground.
“We are also here to encourage the personnel to continue to do the good job they had been doing before now.
“The GTC Command and the Air Training Command are key to all of our activities in NAF and the two commands ensure we have the adequate and skilled manpower for all our activities and operations.
“I am also here to strengthen our activities within Operation Udo Ka II, which Enugu is the headquarters, and see how we can achieve greater successes more than what we are having now and ensure that South-East is totally secured.”
He disclosed that 750 personnel were currently undergoing training and would be graduating between December 2023 and January, 2024.
“These training are important to us in terms of our operation; and the current number is very significant amount of manpower to be injected into our operations and other activities in the country,” he said.
On the inspection in the new GTC Command Headquarters, new 553 Base Services Group (BSG) Headquarters and BSG Annex; Abubakar said that he was quite satisfied and impressed with the pace, level and quality of work done already.
“I have taken out time to inspect the projects and asked questions about the projects and I tell you that I am satisfied with what are on ground and all our assets and facilities are well maintained and protected,” he said.
The NAF boss commended NAF officers, airmen and airwomen in GTC Command for “doing a good job and keeping the flag flying high” as well as extolled their sacrifices and commitment to duties as well.
“I am very happy for their performance. We at the NAF headquarters, we are doing all we can to make sure they have all the necessary support and equipment as well as welfare and accommodation to carry out their jobs effectively,” he said.
He assured NAF personnel of doing more by providing all necessary infrastructures to ensure the maximum working of the GTC Command.
The CAS also inaugurated a renovated airmen’s club and new Mrs Rakiya Abubakar Children’s Park as well as inspected the water treatment and reticulation system and the hospital within NAF Base, Abakpa in Enugu.
UNIBADAN Lecturer Wins Best Thesis Dollar Prize
The Institute of African and Diaspora Studies (IADS), University of Lagos, has announced Dr Muhammad Ribadu as winner of this year’s Rahamon Bello Best Ph.D thesis in African Studies award.
The Director of the institute, Prof. Muyiwa Falaiye, made the announcement in a statement issued to newsmen yesterday in Lagos.
Ribadu, of the University of Ibadan, will be rewarded with a total of 1000 dollars, a plaque and a certificate.
Falaiye said a total of 18 entries for the 4th edition of competition were received from various universities in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa
He gave the title of the winning thesis as: The Social Context of Gentrification in Lagos State; Ph.D (Jan. 2023) Department of Sociology, University of Ibadan.
“The first runner up for this competition was Oluwaseyi Popogbe, currently a lecturer at the Department of Economics, Crawford University in Ogun.
“The title of his thesis is: Social Exclusion and Poverty in Selected Coastal Slum Areas in Lagos State; Ph.D (Dec. 2022) Department of Economics University of Lagos.
“The second runner up position went to Dr Charles Akwen, currently a lecturer at the Department of English, University of Lagos.
“Akwen’s thesis is titled: Notions of Identity in the Literary Creativity of Odia Ofeimun and Yang Mu; Ph.D (Dec. 2022) English Literature, University of Lagos,” the director stated.
He said that both the first and second runners up would be awarded plaques and certificates in recognition of their contributions and hard work.
Falaiye noted that the competition was in honour of Prof. Rahamon Bello, who was the 10th Vice Chancellor of the university, at the time the institute was inaugurated.
The prize money is usually donated every year for the award by friends of Prof. Bello.
Falaiye said that Dec, 6, had been fixed for the presentation of the awards.
The Tide source reports that the award was first presented in 2020.
States, LGs Lack Infrastructure To Manage Ecological Fund, Shun Queries – Perm Sec
The 36 states of the federation and the 774 local government councils have no structure in place to manage Ecological Fund.
The declaration was made in Abuja, yesterday, by the Permanent Secretary, Ecological Project Office, Malam Shehu Ibrahim.
Ibrahim made the declaration at an interactive session with the House Representatives Committee on Ecological Fund.
He said since states and local governments began to share the fund with the Federal Government they had not been able to put structures in place to manage their share.
The Ecological Fund is an intervention fund by the Federal Government to address the multifarious ecological challenges in various communities in the country.
Ibrahim told the house committee that the sharing of the fund among the three tiers of government followed a court decision.
He said governors and local council chairmen never welcomed queries about how they deployed the ecological funds.
“It is a `no-go’ area,’’ he quipped.
“They don’t want to see officials of the Ecological Project Office near them; so we cannot ask them how they spend the money,’’ he added.
Ibrahim said also that all motions by the National Assembly regarding intervention on ecological project matters had been treated.
“The Ecological Project Office acts expeditiously on documents sent to it to solve problems; it looks at some of the gaps within the motion and tries to fill the gaps, and we have had more than five of such motions.
“ The Ecological Project Office does not handle funds; it only appraises projects and makes recommendations to the president,’’ he said.
The permanent secretary explained that it is the Ministry of Finance that manages the fund and the projects.
He stressed that it was a misconception that the Ecological Project Office is in charge of funds and at liberty to decide on where projects would be sited with the money in its coffers.
He said whenever there were interventions; the Ecological Project Office informed affected communities and went with the contractor to hand over the projects to the community.
This is to enable the community to take ownership of the intervention and communicate their observations to the project office.
Responding, Rep. Sani Jaji (APC-Kaura Namoda/ Birnin Magaji), chairman of the committee, said there should always be stakeholders engagement before embarking on ecological fund intervention projects.
He noted that the projects were stakeholders’ projects and failure to include the stakeholders would always lead to security breach.
“So many things happened with UNICEF’s polio vaccine rejection; but when it included stakeholders, people began to accept the vaccine.
“It is critical to involve stakeholders and ensure equity. Security cannot be the reason why you won’t execute projects in certain parts of the country.
“The perception about your office is that there is money out there; so you need to change that perception and let people know that you have limitations about the execution of projects,’’ he said.
Jaji challenged the Ecological Fund Project Office to provide the needed advice to the president to enable him to take the correct steps.