Adetutu Folasade-Koyi, Abuja
The Federal Government has vowed that there would be no sacred cows in the investigation of corruption allegations in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).
It also described the call by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on President Muhammadu Buhari to resign against the backdrop of alleged graft in his government, as “infantile.”
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who disclosed this at a press conference in Abuja, yesterday, also reiterated that the anti-corruption crusade being a cardinal programme of the administration was alive and well.
“Nigerians have recently been inundated with allegations of monumental corruption in a number of government agencies, including the NDDC, NSITF and the anti-corruption agency, EFCC. Many, especially naysayers, have misinterpreted these developments as a sign that the administration’s fight against corruption is waning. In fact, the main opposition PDP has latched onto the developments to call for the resignation of Mr. President, a call that is nothing but infantile! Anyone who disagrees that the anti-corruption fight is alive and well is free to dare us.
“What the revelations of the past few weeks, especially the investigation of the nation’s anti-corruption car have shown is that this administration is not ready to sweep any allegation of corruption under the carpet; that there is no sacred cow in this fight, and that-unlike the PDP, we will not cover up for anyone, including members of our party and government, who face corruption allegations.
“Our fight against corruption is blind to party affiliation, position in government and any other consideration. If the nation’s anti-corruption car can be investigated, then the fight against corruption cannot be deemed to be fake, neither can it be said to be waning. I am not prepared to go into the details of the various corruption allegations, whether at the NDDC, NSITF, EFCC or any other agency – because they are all still under investigation. However, I wish to state that the allegations of corruption in NDDC, for example, are not new. What is new is the speed and seriousness with which this administration has tackled, and is still tackling, the allegations.
“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?
“As I said earlier, this administration’s fight against corruption is as strong as ever, and we have the records to back up this claim. This administration has recorded over 1,400 convictions, including high profile ones, and recovered funds in excess of N800 billion; not to talk of forfeiture of ill-gotten properties. This is no mean feat,” he said.
The minister added that government’s war against corruption was 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, 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. Therefore, those who are celebrating the so-called waning of the anti-corruption fight are engaging in wishful thinking, and are not looking at the full ramifications of the fight,” he said.
Mohammed reiterated that Buhari has consistently “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.”