We ‘ll soon name ex-govt officials who returned loot — Buhari

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We ‘ll soon name ex-govt officials who returned loot — Buhari

We ‘ll soon name ex-govt officials who returned loot — Buhari
December 12
05:33 2015

Nigerians demanding the identities of corrupt former government officials said to have been returning their loot will soon know such people, President Muhammadu Buhari said yesterday in Abuja.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will release the names and amounts returned , he said in a keynote address at this year’s edition of the annual Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe Foundation Lecture.

He said: “It is yet early days for government to make the names public as doing so might “jeopardize the possibility of bigger recoveries.”

Buhari said the fight against corruption of his government is not about him , but “about building a country where our children, and the forthcoming generations can live in peace and prosperity.”

He vowed that in waging the war, the administration would not know any friend or foe, although he was quick to add that Nigerians need not fear him, but the consequences of corruption.

Buhari stressed the need for the generality of Nigerians to get involved in the anti-graft campaign, “hate corruption with a passion, and collectively determine to root it out of our body polity.”

“Any effort to try to deal with corruption without a convinced populace will end as spasmodic, ephemeral exercise, lacking the appropriate social impact. When we are talking about corruption conventionally, it is a manifestation of the human mindset. It is the human beings that manifest corruption.

“To win the war on corruption, therefore, begins with the people accepting that there is an error to be corrected in their lives, that there is a need to refocus and re-orientate the values that we cherish and hold dear. It requires change of mindset, change of attitude and change of conduct.”

Tracing his abhorrence of corruption, Buhari said: “When given the opportunity to play a leading role in our national history in 1984, we acknowledged that corruption is not just about the embezzlement of public funds, but that the perversion of our consciousness and mindset was the point at stake.

“This was the basis of our War Against Indiscipline (WAI). Indiscipline in any way and manner is a form of corruption of the human essence. That was why we waged campaigns against indiscipline and its many manifestations in the 1980s during my tenure as Head of State of our great nation.

“Sadly in this season, we find ourselves in a Nigeria where indiscipline has been taken to an unprecedented level. The rule of law is grossly perverted, and corruption has been elevated to a way of life at all strata of the society. In striving to reorder our country and put it on the path of recovery, we have thus identified the need to tackle corruption head-on.

“In this regard, we have taken steps towards recovering a reasonable amount of the money that was looted or misappropriated from public coffers. Investigations are ongoing on public officers who served, or are still serving and those whose conduct is questionable will be compelled to accept the path of honour and surrender their loot.”

On the returned loot, he said: “As I stated recently, a good number of people who abused their positions are voluntarily returning the illicit funds. I have heard it said that we should disclose the names of the people, and the amounts returned.

“Yes, in due course, the Central Bank of Nigeria will make information available to the public on the surrendered funds, but I must remark that it is yet early days, and any disclosure now may jeopardize the possibility of bigger recoveries. But we owe Nigerians adequate information, and it shall come in due course. It is part of the collective effort to change our land from the bastion of corruption it currently is, to a place of probity and transparency.

“Quite frankly, the anti-corruption war is not strictly about me as a person, it is about building a country where our children and the forthcoming generations can live in peace and prosperity. When you see dilapidated infrastructure round the country, it is often the consequence of corruption. Poor health care, collapsed education, lack of public utilities, decayed social services are all products of corruption, as those entrusted with public resources put them in their private pockets.

“That must stop, if we want a new Nigeria. And that was why I said at another forum that people need not fear me, but they must fear the consequences of their actions. Corrupt acts will always be punished, and there will be no friend, no foe. We will strive to do what is fair and just at all times, but people who refuse to embrace probity should have every cause to fear.”

In a veiled reference to the revelations about alleged looting of public funds by the last government, he said: “Look at the corruption problem in the country, and tell me how you feel as a Nigerian. Our commonwealth is entrusted to leaders at different levels of governance, and instead of using the God-given resources to better the lot of the citizens, they divert them to private use.

“They then amass wealth in billions and trillions of naira and other major currencies of the world, ill-gotten wealth which they cannot finish spending in several lifetimes over. This is abuse of trust, pure and simple. When you hold public office, you do it in trust for the people. When you, therefore, use it to serve self, you have betrayed the people who entrusted that office to you.”

He added: “Again, how do you feel year after year, when Transparency International (TI) releases its Corruption Perception Index, and Nigeria is cast in the role of a superstar on corruption? In 2011, out of 183 countries, Nigeria was 143 on the corruption ladder. In 2012, we were 139 out of 176. In 2013, we ranked 144 out of 177, and in 2014, we stood at 136 out of 174. Hardly a record to inspire anyone. In fact, it is sad, depressing and distressing. Our country can be known for better things other than corruption.

“In the process of trying to recover stolen funds now, we are seeking the cooperation of the countries were these loot was taken. Time it was, when such nations may have overlooked our overtures for assistance to fight corruption. However, we now live in an era where corruption is anathema, looked upon as something that should be tackled head-on because the actions of the corrupt can have global impact.”

Apparently responding to criticism of government over the ongoing arrest of suspects for corruption in the last dispensation, the President said: ”It is the responsibility of government to investigate reported cases of corruption. In the process, suspected culprits could be arrested, detained or questioned. All these efforts would eventually end up with prosecuting the cases in court. A government that closes its eyes to brazen corruption loses its essence, the very reason of its existence. Such a government is sheer flippancy, a waste of time, moral and sociological absurdity.”

He spoke of government’s plan to strengthen existing laws “if we must realistically contend with the miasma of corruption,” while also correcting “ the gaps in our legal system that are exploited to frustrate the process of justice”

This, according to him,is because “a number of anti-corruption cases have been rendered inconclusive due to legal limitations.”

“We need the mass army of Nigerians to rise as one man and stand for probity in both public and private lives. It is only then that we can be sure of dealing a mortal blow on corruption which will engender a better country.

“Nigeria has been brought almost to her knees by decades of corruption and mismanagement of the public treasury. We must come to a point when we all collectively say enough! That is collective will, and that is what will bring us to a new state and status. If this country will realize her potential and take her rightful place in the comity of nations, we must collectively repudiate corruption and fight it to a standstill. It remains eternally true: if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria.”

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