War on corruption: We have received commendations internationally ― Buhari
• Adesina, Bishop Kukah clash over Buhari's asset declaration
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that his administration’s war against corruption has received commendations internationally and locally for the progress made.
The President said for observers not to have noticed the impact made on war against corruption by his administration, shows the depth corruption had eaten in the country before he assumed office in 2015.
Buhari disclosed this through the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola at the Public Presentation and Launch of a Book ‘One Step Ahead’ authored by the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Dr Farida Waziri.
President Buhari while noting that corruption affects governance and development, said Nigeria must seek to eliminate it from the system.
“However, we must know that corruption is the major challenge of governance and development which we must all seek to eliminate from our system.
“Our administration’s commitment to eradicating it has been unwavering and we shall unrelentingly pursue its eradication.
“We have made a significant effort in loot recovered, leakage blocked. If the impact has not been too apparent to some observers, it is because of the deep root corruption has taken and extent of the spread before our advent.
“Nevertheless, we have received good reports and commendations from home and abroad on our success in fighting corruption, with our steady efforts, we have great hopes that corruption will be eliminated in our country”, he said.
Noting that his administration is a product of democracy, President Buhari called for the support of democracy in order to sustain the development in the country.
“Dr Waziri has been able to freely express her opinion and defend herself without fear as seen in the book and comments in the media, this is possible because we are in a democracy.
“As a system of power and social organisation, democracy fosters in an environment of openness, transparency and liberty needed to espouse our ideas on virtually any subject matter under the sun.
“Our administration is a product of democracy because the Nigerian people have twice demonstrated their confidence in our party’s ability to bring the desired change to government and their fortunes as citizens.
“We should, therefore, all work to support democracy in order to sustain our development, we have a greater future in democracy just as democracy has a greater future in us”, he added.
In her opening remarks, the author of the book, Farida Waziri said the book was written in order to put the story of her life, and fill the gaps in the history of Nigeria.
She said the book also availed her the opportunity to render account as a public office holder in her various capacities.
“People write books for various reasons, I have written this book, and certainly it is not as a rejoinder to past comments or false accusations and many fabrications against my personality by individuals, groups or institutions while I was the EFCC Chairman.
“I have simply put the story of my life together to fill some gaps in the history of this great country.
“At the risk of stating the obvious, I dare say that every public official is accountable to society, not merely by discharging their duties appropriately, but also by rendering account thereafter of what happened, why it happened and of course how it happened under their watch.
“Today, am rendering my account by presenting my experience as Special Branch Operative, as pioneer head of special fraud unit, as a detective in the Force Criminal Investigation Department, as Commissioner of Police, former Chairman of the EFCC as well as a wife of Nigeria’s Ambassador to Turkey as well as a lawyer that sat through one of the stormy moments of this country and witnessed first hand behind the scene parody of justice that was the aftermath of the so-called 1999 coup”, she said.
While presenting a public lecture titled ‘Is Corruption a Biological Necessity or a Political Invention’, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Bishop Hassan Kukah who was represented by Reverend Father Patrick Alumuku, wondered why the President had not declared his asset publicly as he promised.
“I believe that every public officer who has had a chance to hold public services owes the citizens an account of their experiences. Very often, people fear that they do not wish to ruffle feathers, but the absence of the records of their experiences means that in future, the birds will not even have any feathers at all. It consigns our nation to repeating the same mistakes, it allows too many demagogues to parade themselves as heroes. It allows those who ran away from the war to claim that they led the war and things get even worse when they pass on and take the libraries of their knowledge to feed the ants in their graves.
“On a final note, let me ask two or three questions that I have heard being asked. First, it is in the Law that the Chairman of EFCC must be from the Police Force and a Muslim from Northern Nigeria? Two, people have asked, how is it that the President used Justice Onnoghen’s Asset Declaration form to prove his corruption and proceed to sack him, yet the President himself has not publicly declared his own assets as he promised during his campaigns? Thirdly, why has Mr Magu not been confirmed as EFCC Chairman and what is the state of the trial of those who attempted to kill him in December 2017? Thank you for your kind attention”, the Bishop said.
The book reviewer, and the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina while reacting to the Bishop’s submission, challenged him to produce evidence where President Muhammadu Buhari promised to publicly declare his asset if elected as President.
Adesina said the President had told him in 2015 that he never promised to declare his asset publicly at no time.
“I remember I was appointed on May 31st 2015 and when I resumed work on June 1st 2015 in a private meeting with the President, one of the first questions I asked him was, these promise about the public declaration of asset, when are you doing it?
“And then he (President Buhari) asked me, can you please show me where that promise was ever made? And low and behold, we searched everywhere, there was no place where the president ever said he will do a public declaration and he told me what does the law requires, the law requires you to declare your asset and that is what I will do. Yet since that year, they keep repeating that he (President Buhari) promised a public declaration”, Adesina said.
He, however, challenged Bishop Kukah to present evidence to substantiate his claims that President Buhari promised to declare his asset if elected.
“Sir can you tell Bishop Kukah that I challenge him to produce that promise by the president because the president stands by it till tomorrow that he never promised a public declaration.
“In 2015, he made his asset public, in 2019, he had declared, he has chosen not to go public, he has not broken any law. So please let’s not continue to repeat what is untrue”, he added