Critics of the Muhammadu Buhari administration’s anti-corruption war got a reply yesterday.
The administration has a good story to tell, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed said.
He said the government had taken on corruption at its core in the last two years.
Very soon, there will be more prosecutions and convictions of treasury looters than the nation has ever seen, the minister said.
Mohammed spoke at the Special (10th) Edition of the Town Hall Meeting in Abuja, following swipes from Senate President Bukola Saraki and House Speaker Yakubu Dogara.
Mohammed said: “Let me say straightaway that in giving this mid-term report, I am convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that this Administration has a story to tell, a story of achievements that – if we are able to continue along this path – will stand the test of time and put our dear nation on the path of sustainable growth and development.
“We have taken on corruption at its core. There are more prosecutions and there will be more convictions for public sector corruption than Nigeria has ever seen.
“We have acted to address the leakages in government spending that make corruption possible. Through the zero- based budgeting and the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the government’s efficiency unit and the hugely successful whistle-blower policy.”
The minister said the government was waging the war against corruption because of its interest in a prosperous future for all Nigerians
He added: “At the same time, corruption levels in our society had become completely unacceptable. The brazenness and impunity of those involved, and the lack of accountability at all levels of society had to be addressed if we were to create the foundations for future prosperity.
“That future prosperity, for all Nigerians, was the overriding objective of the administration. We were, and remain, 100% committed to delivering an economy that enables all Nigerians to achieve their ambitions, no matter how big or small.”
Finance Minister Mrs Kemi Adeosun said the anti corruption fight was not only yielding fruit but had become acceptable among Nigerians.
In her view, “the whistle-blowing policy has made every Nigerian a detective’’ and many of them are not requesting for any compensation.
According to Adeosun, the Federal Government had got more than 2,500 tips that are likely to lead to the recovery of looted funds and blocking of leakages.
She said the government was taking measures that would get the country out of recession, adding that Nigeria would come out stronger.
Mohammed spoke on other achievements of the administration.
He said: “When President Buhari was inaugurated on May 29th, 2015, he set out an ambitious agenda to take on the most pressing challenges our nation faces. It’s important to remember the context of that speech, and the situation that we faced at that time.
“As he was speaking, Boko Haram was in control of a significant part of Nigeria’s North-East. In Borno State alone, Boko Haram occupied 24 out of the State’s 27 local councils. The territorial integrity of Nigeria was threatened. Our first and most pressing assignment, therefore, was to restore security to the nation.
“We have restored security to the North-East and ended the scourge of Boko Haram.
“We are addressing comprehensively the issues in the Niger Delta that make the production of our oil resources so vulnerable. We are restoring the sanctity of our judicial system, and. We are implementing and Economic Recovery and Growth Plan designed to reset our economy and remove our reliance on oil production, and oil revenues, forever.
“These are just a few of the initiatives that government is delivering on and it is this last message on the economy that I want to focus on now:
- We must be able to own our own future. We cannot be a hostage to oil price or production levels. That means taking back control of our economy and making it productive, and delivering value for all of our people.
- By building an economy that is no longer reliant on income from one commodity, thanks to the ongoing diversification process, we will create a sustainable basis for long term and inclusive growth for all.
- The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan sets out the framework for achieving that, and the Honourable Minister of Budget and National Planning is 100% focused on implementation. He will tell you more about his plans shortly.
“At the heart of this is the need for Nigeria to rebuild the social contract between its government and its people. Government must be accountable, and this government is very accountable. We are providing security; we are providing an enabling environment for business and we are delivering strong and effective public services.
“Our citizens need to see the value that their taxes are delivering in order to have faith in government, and for us to attract the revenue we need for even greater investment in the future. We are here today to show Nigerians that we are and will continue to deliver our side of that bargain.
“That is why we are front loading borrowing to fund capital expenditure and build the infrastructure we need. You can see the work going on and it will only grow as we implement the 2017 budget.
“President Buhari has made these commitments to the Nigerian people. He, and his team, are delivering. We are building a future in which all Nigerians can access opportunity and a Nigeria of which we can all be proud.”