- Says calls for President’s resignation infantile
By our correspondent
The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday restated its determination to not spare any corrupt public office holder, whether in or out of government, in its sustained crackdown on corrupt elements in the country.
The government was reacting to revelations of the last few weeks in which charges of monumental corruption were leveled against some government agencies, including members of parliament, and the attendant criticism from the opposition elements.
The government said, unlike in the PDP era where government officials helped themselves freely with public funds, the Buhari government will hold to account all officials of government who have been indicted of corruption.
Recall that in the last few weeks, allegations of corruption were leveled against the suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, officials of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and the National Social Insurance Trust Fund, NSITF.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja yesterday on the fight against corruption by the Buhari administration, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alh Lai Mohammed said the revelations of the past few weeks, especially the investigation of the nation’s anti-corruption Czar, have shown that this Administration is not ready to sweep any allegation of corruption under the carpet.
He said under Buhari, there is no sacred cow. “Unlike the PDP – we will not cover up for anyone, including the members of our party and government, who face corruption allegations,” he said.
He said it is erroneous to misconceive the corruption revelation about those government agencies as signs that the administration’s fight against corruption is waning,
“In fact, the main opposition PDP has latched on to the developments to call for the resignation of Mr. President, a call that is nothing but infantile! Let me state here and now that the fight against corruption, a cardinal programme of this administration, is alive and well.
“President Muhammadu Buhari, the African Union’s Anti-Corruption Champion, who also has an impeccable reputation globally, remains the driver of the fight and no one, not the least the PDP under whose watch Nigeria was looted dry, can taint his image or reverse the gains of the fight. Anyone who disagrees that the anti-corruption fight is alive and well is free to dare us.
“Our fight against corruption is blind to party affiliation, position in government and any other consideration. If the nation’s anti-corruption Czar can be investigated, then the fight against corruption cannot be deemed to be fake, neither can it be said to be waning,” he said.
He said that the allegations of corruption in NDDC, for example, are not new. What is new, according to him, is the speed and seriousness with which the Buhari administration has tackled, and is still tackling, the allegations.
The Minister added: “Had such attention been paid to the running of the NDDC by previous Administrations, the Commission would probably have avoided its present predicament. Is it not a sad irony, then, that those under whose watch the alleged freewheeling spending by the Commission started are now the ones accusing those who are cleaning up after them of corruption?
“This Administration has recorded over 1,400 convictions, including high profile ones, and recovered funds in excess of 800 billion Naira, not to talk of forfeiture of ill-gotten properties. This is no mean feat.
“Remember, 0gentlemen that the fight against corruption is not about loot recovery or convictions alone. We are also putting in place enduring institutional reforms that will deter acts of corruption.
“Here we are talking about the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the Whistleblower Policy, the expansion of the coverage of the Integrated Payroll Personnel and Information System as well as the Government Integrated Management Information System and the Open Government Partnership and Transparency Portal on Financial Transactions, among others.
“Let me also mention the ICPC’s Constituency and Executive Projects Tracking Group, aimed at tracking
performance of publicly-funded projects, and the Commission’s escalation of the use of administrative sanctions in the public service by periodically submitting, for sanction, names of public servants who are being prosecuted. There is also the review of the personnel and capital fund expenditure of MDAs.
“ Therefore, those who are celebrating the so-called waning of the Administration’s anti-corruption fight are engaging in wishful thinking, and are not looking at the full ramifications of the fight,” he said.
He quoted the words of President Buhari on the fight against corruption in his speech marking the 59th independence anniversary of the country to buttress the stand of the government on corruption fight:
‘’This Administration has fought against corruption by investigating and prosecuting those accused of embezzlement and the misuse of public resources. We have empowered teams of prosecutors, assembled detailed databases of evidence, traced the proceeds of crimes and accelerated the recovery of stolen funds….The policies that we are putting in place today are to ensure such criminal and unpatriotic acts do not go without consequences.’’