President Muhammadu Buhari has said his government will not rest until it hunts down conscienceless looters of the nation’s treasury.
He stated this while commissioning the new headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Abuja yesterday.
He refuted allegations the administration is orchestrating a witch-hunt, stressing: “We are determined within the laws to call people to account.”
He explained: “Since 2015, we have made significant progress in the fight against corruption. Everyone now knows that corrupt officials will be held to account, no matter how long it takes.
“We have recovered and are still recovering trillions of naira that were stolen in the past few years by people without conscience. We are pursuing recoveries everywhere and are making sure that anyone who has been found culpable is made to answer for his or her crime under the law.”
The president sought the collaboration of the judiciary and also urged the legislature to provide the needed framework for the war. According to him, this can be done through the review of archaic provisions in the country's laws and proactive passage of new legislations.
He noted: “We must change our ways of handling public trust. Corruption not only kills governments but also destroys societies. It is the major reason we are struggling with basic developmental issues that other nations have long overcome.
“War on corruption is not an easy one to fight, because it affects so many different branches of our lives, so much that some people do not even consider breaking trust is a crime anymore. It has become the norm. That is why we must fight this attitude and encourage Nigerians to change their attitudes and perspectives.”
He appealed to citizens to support regulatory agencies like the EFCC.
In his goodwill message, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, noted that Buhari is not the only graft-free individual in the country.
“The fact that we have, seated before us here, a president whose global acclaim has been corruption- free, I can tell you that he is not alone in Nigeria. There are millions of Nigerians that we come across day by day that are corruption-free.”
Reinforcing the point with a Biblical allusion, Dogara said: “There are millions of Nigerians that have not bowed their knees to the god of corruption, and that fact must be emphasised.”
The speaker said the former EFCC head office had left people with the impression that the Federal Government was not upbeat about the campaign. According to him, “We didn't have a building that represented the seriousness with which we have taken the fight.” He, however, expressed satisfaction “that Mr. President, by this singular effort, has shown that he is putting money where his mouth is.”
He said: “I am happy to say that it is with the support of the National Assembly that the funds were put together to complete this edifice. And we will continue to support the fight against corruption.”
The Speaker further underscored the need for government to insulate officers of the anti-graft agency from temptation by improving their condition of service.
As if the President’s renewed sermon on anti-corruption is to prepare the road to 2019, the Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, has dismissed threats by members of the New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) to exit the APC. He insisted their leaving the party would not hurt Buhari's chances in the 2019 presidential election.
Buhari will win the four states of Kwara, Kano, Sokoto and Adamawa convincingly, with or without nPDP, said El-Rufai.
Briefing reporters after a meeting with the President at the Aso Rock Villa, yesterday, El-Rufai said: “I have no doubt in my mind that even if the people threatening to leave do so, it will have absolutely no impact on the presidential election.”
The nPDP in an April 27, 2018 petition signed by former PDP national chairman Alhaji Kawu Baraje and former Osun State governor Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola had stated its members were being sidelined in the ruling party, and demanded audience with the National Working Committee and the President.
Deputy national publicity secretary of the APC and nPDP member, Chief Timi Frank, had cautioned the APC leadership and the President not to ignore the group’s demand for the meeting.
But El-Rufai is saying Buhari will win, notwithstanding.
“Kano is already in the bag. I mean, if you saw the crowd that welcomed the President without the former governor, Kwankwaso. Kano has always been the President's base. To me, that is not the issue.
The issue is that they have written. They have expressed grievances. Some of the grievances are legitimate and should be looked into. But to threaten to leave the party is neither here nor there.”
According to him, “If they are honest with themselves, they know that President Buhari will win those states, with or without them. But if you have a grievance, we are a party, and politics is a game of addition, not subtraction. So, we don't want to loose anyone.
“So, I think those the letters were addressed to ought to study them and look into what is reasonably possible to accommodate them, because politics, as I said, is a game of addition.”