The Nigerian government on Tuesday dared critics who believe its anti-corruption war has waned, to test its resolve.
“Anyone who disagrees that the anti-corruption fight is alive and well is free to dare us,” Lai Mohammed, the minister of Information and Culture threw the challenge at a press conference in Abuja.
The Minister noted that, unlike the opposition People’s Democratic Party, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari does not cover up anyone. He said that included members of the ruling All Progressives Congress and government officials, some of whom ae facing corruption charges currently.
He said Nigerians have recently been inundated with allegations of monumental corruption in a number of government agencies, including the NDDC, NSITF, and the anti-corruption agency, EFCC.
Mohammed said that these developments, including the revelations at the EFCC, are proof of the Buhari administration’s commitment to the anti-graft war.
“Let me state here and now that the fight against corruption, a cardinal program 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,” he said.
“Many, especially naysayers, have misinterpreted these developments as a sign that the administration’s fight against corruption is waning.
“In fact, 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!” the minister recalled.
Mohammed spoke after the Department of State Security warned it had uncovered a plot by some elements to destabilize the country, warning that it knew those behind the plot.
The PDP last week criticized the plethora of corruption cases in the country and blamed them on the failure of the present administration, which it said rode power on its promise to stamp corruption in Nigeria.
Uche Secondus, PDP’s National Chairman, then called on President Buhari to resign.
“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,’’ Mohammed said.
“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?’’
According to him, there is no sacred cow in this fight, adding 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.
Mohammed said that the administration has recorded over 1,400 convictions, including high-profile ones. He said the government had also recovered overN800 billion of looted funds, excluding the forfeiture of ill-gotten properties.
“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,” the minister added.