Nigeria will be a richer and better country when all political looters reimburses the cpuntry every single Naira they stole from the national purse. The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has refused to stay quiet about the monies that were stolen between 2006 to 2013. He stated that fifty-five (55) Nigerians have stolen over N1.34 trillion from the country’s treasury in those eight years. He made this statement at a press conference on Monday 17th January, 2016, in Abuja, saying that even as the nation was on the verge of winning the war against Boko Haram, she should also partake another war on corruption.
Gentlemen, the situation is dire and the time to act is now. For example, between the period 2006 and 2013, just 55 people allegedly stole a total of 1.34 trillion Naira in Nigeria. That’s more than a quarter of last year’s national budget,” he said.
He went further to give a break down of different categories of Nigerians and how much each stole, including the numbers that made up the acclaimed 55. The minister said 15 former governors were alleged to have stolen N146.84 billion; while 4 former ministers stole N7 billion; 12 former public servants, both at federal and state levels, stole over N14 billion; 8 people in the banking Industry allegedly N524 billion; and 11 businessmen allegedly stole N653 billion.
Mr. Mohammed said the World Bank rates and costs, showed that one third of the stolen funds could have provided 635.18 kilometres of road; built 36 ultra modern hospitals, that is one ultra modern hospital per state; built 183 schools; educated 3,974 children from primary to tertiary level at 25.24 million per child; and built 20,062 units of 2-bedroom houses.
“This is the money that a few people, just 55 in number, allegedly stole within a period of just eight years. And instead of a national outrage, all we hear are these nonsensical statements that the government is fighting only the opposition, or that the government is engaging in vendetta,” he said.
The information minister said Nigerians must therefore support the government in the ongoing war against corruption, irrespective of political, religious or tribal leanings.
“If you have stolen public funds, you must not go scot-free. Everyone and every arm of government must rise up to be counted in this epic war, and defeat is not an option if our country is to survive.
“As President Muhammadu Buhari likes to say, if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria. There is no better way to say it,” he said.
Mr. Mohammed said the impression being created by a cross section of Nigerians that the war against corruption was a vendetta against the opposition, and that indeed it is one-sided, was erroneous. “This is not true and indeed very nauseating,” he said.
The minister gave an illustration using the latest issue of the $2.1 billion arms deal, saying that it is clear that funds meant to fight terrorism were deployed to another fight- “ the fight to keep then President Goodluck Jonathan and his party, the PDP, in power at all cost”.
“So far, based on what we know, no one who has been accused of partaking in the sharing of the funds has denied receiving money. All we have heard from them are ludicrous reasons why they partook in sharing of the money.
“One said he collected N4.5 billion for spiritual purposes, another said he received N2.1 billion for publicity, while yet another said he got N13 billion to pay someone else for the Maritime University land.
“Based on these revelations, should we now fold our hands and allow these people to go away with public funds? Is anyone thinking about the innocent soldiers who lost their lives just because they did not get the necessary weapons to fight the terrorists? What about the families left behind by these soldiers who were sent to their early graves because of the misappropriation of these funds?
“What about those who lost their means of livelihood after the terrorists overran their towns and villages? What of the millions of Nigerians, especially women and children, who are now living in IDP camps? Is it not clear that the cruel fate that has befallen these unfortunate people is a direct result of the misuse of the funds meant to fight the terrorists? Are these not the true costs of corruption?” he said.
Mr. Mohammed challenged the media to always bring to perspective what corruption has done to Nigeria, its people and image at the international level. He also said the Nigerian media must always reflect how corruption stifles economic growth, hinders the fight against poverty, leads to decay in infrastructure and reduce educational standards, lowers life expectancy, stunts the fight against maternal and infant mortality and impacts negatively on the general livelihood of the citizens. He also urged the judiciary arm of government, which is a critical player of anti-corruption, to help get rid of corruption in the country.
“Unless this very important arm of government fully joins in waging this war, the pending cases of corruption will just drag on until they outlast this Administration,” he said.
The Minister said his Ministry was also planning to carry a sensitization programme on the war against corruption to all the corners of the country, leveraging on the wide reach of the National Orientation Agency, NOA. He added that he would partner with other agencies of government, especially the anti-corruption agencies and the police, as well as the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption.
Table Showing the Categories of Nigerians and the Amount they Stole Between 2006 to 2013.
|CATEGORY||NUNMBER OF CASES||AMOUNT INVOLVED (N)|
|Ex-Public Servants (Federal)||7||6,906,600,000.00|
|Ex-Public Servants (States)||5||7,275,000,000.00|
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