Federal Government has said that no amount of blackmail will make it to surrender the ongoing war against corruption.
This is even as it said that Nigeria poverty rate has increased by the same proportion with annual budget since 1999 because the appropriated funds have mostly ended up in the pockets of few looters.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alh. Lai Mohammed stated this on Tuesday during his meeting with Abuja Bureau Chiefs in Abuja.
He said that no amount of attacks will deter the administration from prosecuting the war against corruption in its efforts to save the country from collapse, insisting that the Federal Government will not be cowed or distracted on the ongoing fight against corruption.
‘‘The pseudo-analysts and hack writers will labour in vain in their quest to stop the train of this anti-corruption fight,” the Minister said.
”When I met with the News and Political Editors in Lagos on Sunday, I said, among other things, that the government is aware that in fighting corruption, corruption will also fight back. I also said that those who stole us dry are powerful. They have newspapers, radio and television stations as well as online platforms, and an army of supporters to continuously deride the government’s war against corruption.
”Well, I can tell you today that corruption is already fighting back, and it is fighting hard and dirty. Sponsored articles have started appearing in the newspapers and in the Social Media, while ‘Talking Heads’ have started making the rounds in the electronic media, all deriding the fight against corruption as well as this Administration.
”Not stopping there, they have been creating distractions by sponsoring articles in both local and international media to deride the administration’s policies generally, tag the President a budding dictator and even write off his 2016 budget. We know that the sole purpose of these attacks is to distract attention from the war on corruption,” he said.
‘‘The cost of corruption is evidenced in the rate poverty in the country. Whereas Nigeria’s national budget has increased from just over 900 billion Naira in 1999 to over 6 trillion Naira in 2016, poverty has also increased almost by the same proportion. The reason is not far fetched: Appropriated funds have mostly ended up in the pockets of a few looters.
‘‘When the money meant to construct roads are looted, the end result is that the roads are not built and the people suffer and even die in avoidable road accidents. When the money meant to provide electricity is looted, we all are perpetually sentenced to darkness. When the money meant for healthcare is pocketed by a few, we are unable to reduce maternal and infant mortality.
‘‘These are the costs of corruption. Let us not just talk about corruption in the abstract, let us be counting its cost to our lives, in order to drive home the point that corruption must be tackled decisively for Nigerians to feel the impact of governance.
The Minister said it was saddening that some otherwise credible voices have unwittingly allowed themselves to be railroaded into the bandwagon of pro-corruption orchestra”, while some ”hack writers” are struggling to whittle down the impact of the anti-corruption campaign.
He sensed that though sponsored attacks may not stop, and that they will become more intense and more coordinated in the days ahead, he expressed optimism that ‘‘the good news is that we are winning the war. Nigerians are now talking more about corruption. Nigerians are now counting the cost of corruption to their lives.”
‘Even one of those who benefitted from the ‘Dasukigate’ had the temerity to deride the anti-corruption war as ‘selective’, ”when in saner climes, he should have been so ashamed of himself that he would have apologized to the nation and hunkered down for good”.
Mohammed charged Nigerians not to be swayed by the antics of the sponsored denunciation of the anti-graft war, warning that ”the treasury looters, who have so much resources in their kitty, and their cohorts will throw everything but the kitchen sink at this Administration. But we have no doubt that Nigerians are discerning enough to know the truth which, in the words of President Muhammadu Buhari, is that unless Nigeria kills corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria.”
”Recall that in the so-called Dasukigate, 2.1 billion dollars meant for the fight against Boko Haram was diverted to other uses, including over 4 billion Naira for spiritual purposes, 13 billion Naira for Maritime University land, 2.1 billion Naira for publicity and hundreds of millions of Naira for political patronage.
”That explains why we lost many soldiers to the fight against Boko Haram, which in turn created many widows and orphans, in addition to pushing millions of Nigerians from their communities into IDP camps. This explains why the war dragged on for years until President Buhari assumed office and, within just seven months, strengthened the capacity of the military to decimate Boko Haram,” he added.