The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has called on the citizens to form coalitions that will galvanize their individual efforts to tackle corruption, saying there is a role for everyone in tackling graft.
”If we don’t speak out, the corrupt cartel may misconstrue our silence for acquiscence, and continue to loot our commonwealth”.
”This is not Buhari’s war. This is not APC’s war. This is a war for all Nigerians, and we must all join hands in waging the war,” the Minister said while delivering the Distinguished Guest Lecture of the Faculty of Arts, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-ife, on Friday.
He said once the people are determined to battle corruption, they are assured of victory, adding: ”No power has ever been great enough to defeat a people who are determined to win. Let us all form what I call citizens’ coalition against corruption by speaking up against the crime, refusing to glorify or support looters, irrespective of how much dirty cash they dangle before us, and refusing to be divided along religious or ethnic lines.
Alhaji Mohammed also appealed to the media, which he said is critical to the anti-corruption battle, to continue to keep the people adequately informed and sensitized to the evils of corruption.
He said despite the invasion of the media space by hack writers and pseudo-analysts, ”I must say that the media have availed themselves creditably. I implore them not to rest on their oars.”
The Minister urged opinion leaders, traditional and religious leaders, the civil society, professional groups and others to make their voices heard in the fight, which he said had already received the support and acknowledgement from the US and global organizations like the World Bank.
Alhaji Mohammed assured that on the part of government, there is no stopping this fight.
”Those who doubt the resolve of this Administration to successfully wage this battle will learn a tough lesson, a lesson of their lives. Failure is not an option in this fight,” he said, and announced the plan by the ministry to embark on a ‘road show’ on the anti-corruption sensitization efforts.
”We intend to hold town hall meetings across the country to enable us speak directly to the people, especially at the grassroots,” the Minister said.
He drew a link between corruption and under-development, and noted that corruption has under-developed Nigeria and condemned the citizens into perpetual poverty
To buttress his assertion, the Minister listed numerous cases of corruption, including 1.9 billion-Naira Special Intervention Ebola Fund Scandal; the Police Equipment Funds scandal in which about 774 million Naira was diverted; the Dasukigate that has so far revealed that 21 individuals benefitted from the scam to a tune of 54 billion Naira; the Pension Scam, in which top government officials in charge of pension funds in the country looted about 273.9 billion Naira from 2005 to 2011 and the fuel subsidy scam, in which Nigeria spent 2.587 trillion Naira on fuel subsidy in 2011, 900 percent more than the 245 billion Naira that was appropriated for that purpose.
Alhaji Mohammed said that in order for the sensitization campaign he launched against corruption to be successful, it is focusing on the cost of corruption.
”This is because when people know that the epileptic power supply in the country, even after billions of Naira have been pumped into the sector, is a direct consequence of corruption, they will better understand the threat that corruption poses. When Nigerians realize that the frequent loss of lives on our roads is because someone has looted the funds meant to rehabilitate the roads, they will understand better.
”Perhaps the most recent instance here is the Dasukigate, in which 2.1 billion dollars meant for the fight against Boko Haram was diverted to other uses,” he said.
Earlier, the Minister had paid a courtesy visit to the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Bamitale Omole, who said the institution is proud of the achievements of the Minister, as a distinguished alumnus.
”The university admires you and is proud of you. Your achievements have shown you as a worthy GREAT IFE alumnus,” the Vice Chancellor said.
The Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Prof. Gbemisola Adeoti, said the Distinguished Lecture Series was designed by the Faculty ”as an avenue to fulfill one of her obligations as a knowledge generating institution and also as an avenue to raise funds for the developmental projects of the Faculty”.