Anti-corruption: We won’t consider party, position in govt – Minister

By Oluwaseun Sonde

The Honourable Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration fight against corruption is blind to party affiliation, position in government and any other consideration unlike People Democratic Party (PDP) under whose watch Nigeria was looted dry, can taint his image or reverse the gains of the fight.

The Minister disclosed this at a press briefing in Abuja on Tuesday, over the allegations of monumental corruption in number of government agencies, including the NDDC, NSITF and the anti-corruption agency, EFCC, he said naysayers misinterpreted these developments as a sign that the Administration’s fight against corruption is waning.

According to him, “the main opposition PDP has latched on to the developments to call for the resignation of Mr. President, a call that is nothing but infantile! Let me state here and now that the fight against corruption, a cardinal programme of this Administration, is alive and well.

President 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”.

He added that what the revelations of the past few weeks, especially the investigation of the nation’s anti-corruption Czar, have shown is that this Administration is not ready to sweep any allegation of corruption under the carpet; that 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”, he said.

However, the Minister wished to state that the allegations of corruption in NDDC, for example, are not new. “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? This Administration’s fight against corruption is as strong as ever, and we have the records to back up this claim”.

He noted that Buhari’s administration has recorded over 1,400 convictions, including high profile ones, and recovered funds in excess of 800 billion Naira, not to talk of forfeiture of ill-gotten properties. This is no mean feat. 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 Whistleblower 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”.

Therefore, he said those who are celebrating the so-called waning of the Administration’s anti-corruption fight are engaging in wishful thinking, and are not looking at the full ramifications of the fight.

He ended by quoting what Mr. President said on the fight against corruption in his speech marking the 59th independence anniversary of the country: ”This Administration has fought against corruption by investigating and prosecuting those accused of embezzlement and the misuse of public resources. We have empowered teams of prosecutors, assembled detailed databases of evidence, traced the proceeds of crimes and accelerated the recovery of stolen funds”.

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