Uche Usim, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday identified opacity and lack of accountability in government administration as the fertile soil on which institutionalized corruption has been planted in Nigeria, even as he expressed his administration’s resolve to tackle the menace headlong.
The President made the disclosure while declaring open the 49th annual conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) in Abuja with the theme; “Building Nigeria for sustainable growth.”
Buhari, who was represented at the event by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said corruption and impunity have horribly damaged the economy because accountability has been perennially disregarded, especially as perpetrators often evaded justice.
He noted that his administration’s fight against corruption was born out of the need to build a strong country and leave enduring legacies for future generation.
He said, “Corruption, our greatest enemy will certainly fight back, but we must continue to fight to effect a change to our value system.
“Disrespect for accountability strives when people get away with all manner of questionable things and accountants are unable to check them.
“I urge you now to always see corruption in its true color as a gross violation of human right. For the majority of our people, the millions that are in hardship, the sick, the helpless, corruption is the major reason why they cannot go to school, why we have few equipment and doctors in our hospital.
“Corruption diverts public resources thereby causes much suffering, deprivation and unnecessary death in the country.
“Viewed this way, we can begin to appreciate the gravity of the destructive nature of corruption. This should provoke us to fight it with the same zeal and doggedness we deeply deploy in the difference of fundamental human rights.
He added; “If we do not slay corruption with the passion it deserves, we will not get the result that we need.
“On our part, we will continue to provide the desired leadership and I am certain and optimistic that the glorious day we all long for will not be long in coming.
He said the government was determined to finding a lasting solution to the developmental challenges facing the nation.
In his remarks at the event, a former Director of the Kenyan Anti-Corruption Agency, Prof Patrick Lumumba said Nigerians were deeply in bed with corruption as that explains why the menace still blossoms in the country.
He said in a society such as Nigeria where people still celebrate those that fraudulently enrich themselves, corruption will continue to flourish and spread rapidly.
Lumumba added that the day Nigerians become tired of corrupt practices, the actions that would follow would put an end to graft.
He said, “Corruption is a crime against humanity. Experiences have demonstrated that if a people in a country are sufficiently fed up they will rise up. In Romanian, we saw that the people themselves were dissatisfied with the conduct of their party officials and they changed the attitude of the leadership.
‘If we think that the international community will solve our problems, then we have shown that we are incapable of solving them.
“Sometimes, I think Nigerians and many Africans are not fed up. Because the day we are fed up, things will begin to change.
“But as long as we celebrate thieves, as long as we celebrate money no matter how they are got, everybody will want to have the money and they don’t care about how its got. The day we begin to get angry, the country will change in one month.”
On his part, the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Finance Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu called on ICAN to introduce courses that would prepare accountants for the fight against corruption.
He said as managers of the treasury, the role of accountants and auditors in the fight against corruption was very vital.
Responding to a question from one of the participants that the EFCC usually sweeps corruption cases involving members of ruling party under the carpet, he said this was not true.
He said the biggest conviction which the anti-graft agency had secured under his leadership were those involving two former governors.
He said, ‘We are created to fight corruption. The biggest conviction we have is on two governors that have been convicted. You know their political affiliation and we don’t stop cases. In fact, in EFCC, its better not to start because once we start, we must get concluded. Its not true (blocking of cases of ruling party members). We don’t block cases.”
He called on ICAN to continue to support the fight against corruption, adding that this would help stimulate economic development.