​​SPEECH BY THE HON. MINISTER  OF INFORMATION AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI

MOHAMMED, AT THE LAUNCH OF THE ANTI-CORRUPTION SITUATION ROOM IN ABUJA
ON TUESDAY

PROTOCOL

Good morning distinguished ladies and gentlemen. It is my pleasure to
be here with you on this occasion of the launch of the Anti-Corruption
Situation Room (ACSR).

2.   Let me sincerely commend those who are behind the formation of
the ACSR. I understand they include Civil Society Organisations, Media
groups and government agencies. The essence, I am told, is not just to
promote transparency and accountability in government but also to
ensure that the people take ownership of the fight against corruption.
For us in government, this is music to our ears.

3.   Music to our ears because we have been saying that the fight
against corruption is not Buhari’s fight, neither is it APC’s fight.
It is Nigeria’s fight. This means all Nigerians must take possession
of this war if we are to win it. The courageous and patriotic minds
behind the Anti-Corruption Situation Room have take the first critical
step to ensure that Nigerians buy into this war. Permit me, therefore,
to thank the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource
Centre) and its partners for coming up with the ACSR.

4.   May I also use this occasion to appeal to more Civil Society
Organizations to join this initiative. Unless there is a collaboration
that involves the government, the media, CSOs and others, this fight
will be tougher than it should be. Mr. Olanrewju Suraju, Chairman of
HEDA Resource Centre, puts it most succinctly when he said, and I
quote: “The central thrust is to build synergy between anti-corruption
CSOs, the labor movement and law enforcement agencies, the Parliament
and the Judiciary as a means of improving and broadening the
anti-corruption agenda as well as creating an accountability loop and
feedback mechanism between anti-corruption agencies, the civil society
organizations and the citizens”.

5.   Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the ACSR could not have come
at a better time. The Buhari Administration’s fight against corruption
is gaining momentum, and the government is winning the war. But there
is a challenge: There seems to be a feeling of numbness among the
citizens about the conduct of those whose actions brought us here,
those who looted the national treasury dry. Suddenly, these same
people are engaging in revisionist history and blaming everyone but
themselves for the mess their actions put the country into.

6.   Those who turned our treasury to their piggy bank are once again
presenting themselves as the saviours of the nation. They say the best
time for Nigeria was when the proceeds of their corruption subsidized
many and gave the illusion of economic boom. They are so emboldened as
to say Nigerians are earnestly yearning for them. No contrition. No
apologies. No shame. Just sheer bravado. Unbridled arrogance.
revisionism. The Civil Society, the media and indeed all Nigerians owe
it a duty not to allow Nigerians to forget, to say ‘Never Again’ to
those who view Nigeria as nothing but a cash cow to be milked to
death.

7.   How can we ever forget? The 2.1 billion dollars meant to buy
weapons for the Nigerian military to fight Boko Haram was turned into
a slush fund by a few, causing the war to fester and hundreds of
troops to die. How can we ever forget that we spent billions of
dollars on power only to have just 2,690 megawatts, which was what we
inherited when we assumed office 29 May 2015? How can we ever forget
that, according to DFID, a whopping 32 billion dollars was lost to
corruption during the six-year tenure of the immediate past
Administration. That’s more than the entire 2018 Federal
budget!

8.   Why is it that despite the billions of naira supposedly spent on
roads by successive Administrations, what we inherited are death
traps. Why did we inherit an economy in dire straits? Nigeria sold oil
at over 100 dollars per barrel for years, but the proceeds were either
looted or frittered away.

9.   Yet, this Administration has decided to take the bull by the
horns, rather than sit back and lament. That is why we are fighting
corruption headlong. It is the toughest of the three cardinal
programmes of this Administration, but we are determined to win the
fight, and we are winning, even when corruption is fighting back fast
and furious. Because we
are tackling corruption, we have succeeded in raising power generation
from 2,690 to an all-time high of 7,001MW. Because we are tackling
corruption, we are saving 25 billion Naira monthly by cutting
unnecessary allowances of officials. Because we are tackling
corruption, we have added 500 million dollars to our Sovereign Wealth
Fund that stagnated at the 1-billion-dollar that was used to set it
up. We have raised our foreign reserves from 23 billion dollars to 38
billion dollars. We have stopped the payment of phantom subsidy of
between 800 billion and 1.3 trillion Naira.

10.   We recovered at least 43 million dollars and 56 houses from just
one official of the immediate past Administration. We have recovered
2.9 billion dollars from looters so far. Our Whistle-blower policy has
led to the recovery of
151 million dollars and N8 billion in looted funds from just three
sources. Our sincere and full implementation of the Treasury Singles
Account, or TSA, has yielded 3 trillion Naira, almost half of the
estimated revenue in the 2018 budget. With the elimination of
thousands of ghost workers, we have saved 120 billion Naira. We have
eliminated the 108 billion Naira in maintenance fees payable to banks,
pre-TSA. We can go on and on, reeling out the successes from our fight
against corruption.

11.   It is noteworthy that we have achieved all these and more
without having all the stakeholders fully on board in the fight
against corruption. Imagine how far we would have gone if all hands
have been on deck. That is why we are delighted at the launch of the
Anti-Corruption Situation Room, which we believe will definitely
ensure that more and more Nigerians buy into this war.

12.   Once Nigerians take possession of the war, there will be no more
hiding place for the corrupt. Those accusing the Administration of
engaging in a selective anti-corruption fight will be exposed for who
they are: apologists for treasury looters!

13.   Once again, I congratulate the various groups that have come
together to form the ACSR. It is our fervent hope that this will be a
game changer in the efforts to ensure that Nigerians take possession
of the war against corruption, thus galvanizing the anti-corruption
war.

14.   I thank you all for your kind attention

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Author: aGuNmA

An Economist, Attorney at Law, Arbitrator & Marriage Counsellor. A passionate humanitarian, deeply concerned about women and children. I write about spirituality, law, women, marriage and a host of other issues.

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