By Iyobosa Uwugiaren
The federal government has said that the fight against corruption, a cardinal programme of President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, is alive and well.
It added that unlike the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the current administration will not cover up for anyone, including the members of its party and government, who are facing corruption allegations.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who stated this in Abuja on Tuesday, said the President, who is the African Union’s Anti-Corruption Champion, remains the driver of the fight.
‘’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’’, the federal government’s spokesman stated.
The general public has recently been inundated with allegations of monumental corruption in a number of government agencies, including the NDDC, NSITF and the anti-corruption agency – the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Many public commentators have seen these developments as signs that the Buhari-led administration’s fight against corruption is waning, with the main opposition party calling for the resignation of the President.
However, the Minister of Information said that what the revelations of the past few weeks, especially the investigation of the nation’s anti-corruption Czar, have shown is that the Buhari-led administration was not ready to sweep any allegation of corruption under the carpet.
He added, ‘’There is no sacred cow in this fight, and that – unlike the PDP – we will not cover up for anyone, including the members of our party and government, who faces corruption allegations.
‘’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.’’
Although the minister refused to go into the details of the various corruption allegations because Investigations are still on, he explained that the allegations of corruption in NDDC, for example, were not new.
According to him, ‘’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?’’
Insisting that this administration’s fight against corruption is as ‘’strong as ever’’, the minister of information said Buhari’s administration has records to back up its claim of the war against corruption.
The administration, according to him, has recorded over 1,400 convictions, including high profile ones, and recovered funds in excess of N800 billion, outside the forfeiture of ill-gotten properties, saying this is no mean feat.
‘’Remember, gentlemen, 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 Whistle-blower 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’’, Mohammed further stated.
Mentioning the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Crimes Commission’s (ICPC) Constituency and Executive Projects Tracking Group, aimed at tracking performance of publicly-funded projects, the minister said 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, has been effective.
He said that those who were celebrating the ‘’so-called waning of the administration’s anti-corruption fight’’ were engaging in wishful thinking, and were not looking at the full ramifications of the fight.
Quoting President Buhari, the minister said that the administration had fought against corruption by investigating and prosecuting those accused of embezzlement and the misuse of public resources.