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FG Declares Anti-Corruption War Is For Nigeria Survival

The Federal Government (FG) has declared that the ongoing anti-corruption war is a war for the survival of Nigeria and no effort will be spared to conquer it.

Reacting Friday in Lagos to the cross section of the public opinion, accusing FG of dwelling excessively on the alleged cases of financial gross misconduct, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed while meeting with the online publishers, asserted the “situation is grim, very grim indeed, as far as corruption is concerned” stressing that this was the reason why the FG was embarking on the various sensitization campaign.

He added the exercise “is not to vilify anyone but to use facts and figures to give Nigerians a sense of the cost of corruption”.

The Minister stressed that when the money meant to construct roads were embezzled or misappropriated, the roads are not built; the people suffer even die in avoidable road accidents.

”When the money meant for education is looted, we are unable to provide quality education for our children. When the money meant to fight terrorism is looted or diverted for prayers, publicity, purchase of land for maritime university or simply to rally support for a political party, soldiers die needlessly, hordes of widows emerge and people are pushed from their communities to IDP camps. These, in stark reality, are the costs of corruption. We must give a face to corruption and stop talking about it in the abstract. Nigerians must know that when they celebrate corrupt people, they are celebrating their own deprivations, the denial of the dividends of democracy and the endemic poverty in our society” the Information Minister declared.

He observed that the Nigerian budget which soared from 900 billion Naira in 1999 to over 6 trillion Naira in 2016 was not “accidental” lamenting that the worrisome trend has made poverty to grow almost in direct proportion.

The simple reason according to Alhaji Mohammed is that the “appropriated funds have ended up in the pockets of a few. He noted that his disclosure Monday (this week), that 55 people were alleged to have stolen 1.34 trillion Naira of public funds between 2006 and 2013 have elicited strong reactions, adding that the figures “are real”

“In pursuance of our new strategy of putting emphasis on the cost of corruption, let me give you more to chew on today. Let us do a comparative analysis of the number of Dasukigate beneficiaries and amount they collected from the office of the National Security Adviser in 2015 on one hand, and the list of projects and amount across the nation in the Zonal Intervention project of 2015 appropriation act.

“Whereas the sum of 51.829 billion Naira 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 54.659 billion Naira as we know so far. The implication, therefore, is that the amount received by 21 individuals and companies is more than the 2015 Zonal Intervention Project budget by 2.829 billion Naira!

“Furthermore, the value of what 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 2.829 billion Naira less than Dasukigate. This is another huge cost of corruption. For those who will want to know the source of our information, I say the data on the 2015 budget and zonal intervention appropriations can be found on the National Budget Office website” Alhaji Mohammed maintained.

The Minister who admitted that the online newspapers “occupy a very unique place in the new information architecture” restated the stark reality about the level of corruption which has confronted Nigeria in the past, has proved that nothing including the 2016 budget, would succeed in the country if corruption is not tackled.

Alhaji Mohammed therefore appealed to online publishers, to support the war by ensuring that Nigerians are well informed about its evils, advocating that it was not Buhari’s or APC’s war, rather Nigeria war “and failure is not an option”.

On press freedom, Alhaji Mohammed assured the FG has no intention whatsoever to regulate online publications.

He noted the government believed that, the publishers were responsible enough to self-regulate in order to ensure survival. The Minister reasoned: “If the online publications suffer credibility problems, they stand the risk of losing the confidence of their audience and the advertisers who provide the lifeblood for the publications’ survival. On the other hand, if they maintain their credibility, their survival guaranteed. In other words, credibility is at the very core of your survival”.

“My hunch is that we will see more growth in the number of online publications in the days ahead, but only the credible ones will continue to enjoy patronage – either from the readers or from the advertisers” the FG image maker alluded.

He also gave assurance of the FG support to the online media, stating that it was in the interest of present administration that online publications continue to grow in leaps and bounds, as he noted, the more the number of such publications, the easier it becomes to bridge the information gap between the government and the governed, as well as the easier it becomes for the government to carry the citizens along in the formulation and implementation of policies that touch on their lives.

The Minister sought cooperation of the online publishers to ensure the success of the various campaigns his Ministry had launched or planning to launch, including the National Security Awareness Campaign.

On the FG, the rule of law and court orders on various corruption suspects, Alhaji Mohammed argued that the present administration has not flouted any court order. He countered that the Government could not be faulted when an accused is re-arrested after a court has granted him bail due to a fresh allegation preferred against the same suspect by the law enforcement agencies.

The Minister also disclosed that FG was going to collaborate with institutions such as World Bank and State Government which already have similar template in place, to ensure proper implementation of the monthly N5000 to the vulnerable.

Short URL: https://www.africanexaminer.com/?p=29656

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