President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday, said to win the ongoing war against corruption in the country, a coalition of reasonable men and women whose commitment would serve as a springboard for government to leverage upon and achieve success must join hands with his administration in the crusade.
President Buhari spoke in Abuja, on Tuesday, at a conference organised by the National Assembly, in conjunction with the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption on the Role of the Legislature in the Fight Against Corruption in Nigeria.
The President, who was represented by Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, declared that “we have an opportunity today to begin a national project which is not necessarily a finger-pointing exercise.
“We must be aware that this Republic will fall and consume us all if we don’t put a practical plan in place using our laws and actions going forward. The bane of development of the country has been corruption.
“Despite the widespread cynicism about the ability of the political class to fight corruption, we have, indeed, found the will to go after it with all that is within our resources as enabled by existing laws of our land.
“How do you explain a situation where funds meant to equip soldiers in a war that was consuming thousands and probably looking for all of us but was stolen by a few individuals, and then people still find the justification for such behaviour.
“We don’t set out fighting corruption believing and acting as if we are the best. They are by virtue of our positions as chief executives and thinking that we will do it alone without employing the other available human resources.
“That’s not what we need to win the war that’s threatening everybody, what we need is a coalition of reasonable men and women who would form the army of the willing in this fight.
“We need to know that a corrupt executive will destroy all that’s meant for development, that a corrupt legislature will frustrate all effort to strengthen institutions via relevant legislation, and that a corrupt judiciary will frustrate all attempts at punishing corrupt crimes and those involved in them,” he stated.
Also speaking at the event, President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, commended the Buhari-led administration for showing the political will to wage war against corruption, adding that “the will has been the scarce resources not employed by previous administrations for more than four decades.
According to him,”For more than 40 years now, the ‘anti-corruption’ fight has remained a major policy thrust of successive administrations. While this is true, it is also unfortunately true that not much traction has been achieved in preventing corruption in our public life.
“There is no doubt that corruption has significantly impaired our growth and development as a nation. More importantly, it is the poor that are most affected by corruption. This is why the war against corruption must now be fought sustainably through systemic solutions.
“It is safe to say that we have failed before, for various reasons. Whatever those reasons are, we cannot afford to fail again. This time, we must get it right. To lose this opportunity will have untold impact on our history and development. The current initiative must be insulated from being used as a political tool for political witch-hunting. It must not be allowed to be tainted in a manner that suggests selectivity.”
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, represented by the chairman, House committee on Financial crimes, Honourable Kayode Oladele, noted that the difference between this government and others before it was the political will to fight corruption.
According to him, “It is not because of what we are saying, but what we are doing. And as the saying goes, he who comes to equity must come with clean hands.” And it must be noted that the fight against corruption is not being waged by only one arm.
“The National Assembly, therefore, has decided to key into the anti-corruption drive of the present administration.”
Head of the Presidential Committee on Anti Corruption, Professor Itse Sagay, in his address, described the legislature as the distinctive mark of a country’s sovereignty, “without which there can be no democracy in a society.”
He said the constitution, fashioned after that of the United States, had placed the status of a first citizen and chief executive on the President and governors, but “doesn’t mean the executive can take actions without recourse to other arms of government.”