Ndubuisi Francis and Udora Orizu in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that the resolve of his administration to combat corruption, entrench transparency and accountability was irreversible.
He said in battling corruption and enhancing transparency, it was public knowledge that government’s resolve has come to stay, adding that to strengthen the fight against corruption, the Whistle Blower Policy evolved with the sponsoring of a Whistle Blower Protection Bill 2016 to the National Assembly in order to encourage and protect Nigerians for supporting the fight.
Buhari, who spoke in Abuja yesterday at the annual conference of the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), said it was interesting to note that part of the stolen funds recovered was being used by the government to finance the 2017 Budget.
Represented at the occasion by the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Ahmed Idris, Buhari commended the association on their 22nd annual conference, expressing delight at this year’s theme: ‘sustainable economic management in a recession.’
He recalled that over the past decades, Nigeria had witnessed periods of boom and prosperity, regretting that these were not harnessed for collective economic development.
He said: “You will recall when Nigeria was producing an average of 2.1 million barrels of crude oil per day selling at an average of $100 per barrel which today is not the case. By 2016, Nigeria was in real recession for the first time in about three decades.
“We firmly believe that if our numerous resources were appropriately managed, corruption duly checked, patriotism deeply imbibed in everything we do, the spirit of rule of law was observed and the citizen’s political freedom was ensured, Nigeria could not have been in recession.
“You are all witnesses to our government’s promises majoring on diversifying the economic base of Nigeria, confronting the security challenges and dealing decisively with corruption in all aspects of government businesses.
“In all these spheres of concerns, the roles of the accountants cannot be over-emphasised. Permit me at this juncture to remind you that as accountants you can be described as the first set of gatekeepers to ensure that all transactions are conducted prudently. This I believe is a challenge to you as accountants.
“In diversifying the economy, my administration has practically done much in delivering on its core focus of diversifying the economy. Part of our government’s efforts to fulfill this promise is exemplified in the launching of the Agricultural Anchor Borrowers’ Programme in November 2015, barely five months after we assumed office,” he said.
Buahri noted that this has been carefully designed and prudently implemented since inception, adding that so far, over 200,000 small holder farmers, cultivating some 233,000 hectares of farmland, and 29 states had benefited from the programme.
He also applauded the professionalism and heroic acts of the armed forces “from whom we have seen physical bravery by crushing the Boko Haram, turning them into mere pockets of cowards attacking only soft and vulnerable targets.”
Buhari added: “Today, there exists Naval Force presence in the Lake Chad Basin. We commend the wonderful support from our neighbouring countries in our war against terrorism. “
The President and Chairman of council (ANAN), Alhaji Shehu Usman Ladan, while addressing the participants, said this year’s conference would examine the decline in the Nigerian economy brought about by the crash in international oil prices, with its attendant negative impact on the economy and the citizenry.