By Sadiq Umar – The minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has accused those he described as enemies of the anti corruption war of the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration, of now fighting back hard and dirty.
The Information minister spoke Tuesday at a media briefing in Abuja where he further solicited the support of the media for the anti-corruption campaign of government.
He also said the Buhari administration will not be distracted in the war against graft, no matter the level of distractions by those opposed to it.
“Well, I can tell you today that corruption is already fighting back, and it is fighting hard and dirty,” he said.
Adding that the enemies of the anti graft war have started to use media and other platforms to cut the ground off the battle against graft, alleging that such attacks have come in the form of well orchestrated attacks on the President, his policies, the 2016 budget or ridiculing the anti graft war itself on various media platforms.
According to Mohammed, “Sponsored articles have started appearing in the newspapers and on the social media, while ‘Talking Heads’ have started making the rounds on 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,” Mohammed said.
“It is saddening that some otherwise credible voices have unwittingly allowed themselves to be railroaded into the bandwagon of pro-corruption orchestra. They engage sophistry to try to rally Nigerians against the anti-corruption battle.
“One hack writer even said the disclosure that 55 Nigerians allegedly stole 1.34 trillion naira between 2006 and 2013 did not trigger any anger among Nigerias! A disclosure that made the front page in over a dozen Nigerian newspapers, played widely in the international media and attracted the attention of the world’s most powerful country and global financial institutions cannot be dismissed with a wave of the hand.
“Also, one of those who benefitted from the Dasukigate even 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,” the Minister added.
He said that the attacks are likely to become more intense and more coordinated in the days ahead.
The Minister noted that Nigerians who he said are now counting the cost of corruption to their lives should not be taken in by such disinformation.
“We call on Nigerians not to be taken in by the antics of the sponsored denunciation of the anti-graft war. 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.”
While emphasizing the cost of corruption to Nigeria and Nigerians over the years, the Minister recalled how the $2.1 billion meant for the fight against Boko Haram was diverted to other uses, including over N4 billion for spiritual purposes, N13 billion for Maritime University land, N2.1 billion 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. It is also instructive that not one of those who disbursed or collected the Dasukigate funds has denied giving or collecting the money, even though they have given different reasons for doing so,” Mohammed said.
He also observed that while the national budget has increased from just over N900 billion in 1999 to over N6 trillion in 2016, noting however that poverty has also increased almost by the same proportion because 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 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 also said the accusation that the government is dwelling too much on the war against corruption is not true because the situation is very grim indeed, as far as corruption is concerned.
“That is why we will not relent in prosecuting this war until we have decimated the monster of corruption just like we did to Boko Haram and Ebola.
“This administration will neither be distracted nor intimidated by anyone into abandoning or weakening the fight against corruption, which is a war of survival for our nation. No amount of media or other attacks will stop the fight. The pseudo-analysts and hack writers will labour in vain in their quest to stop the train of this anti-corruption fight.
“Let me restate, for emphasis, that when we give instances of -boggling acts of corruption, our intention is not to vilify anyone but to sensitize Nigerians as to how harmful corruption is to the country and the people. The truth is that what we have revealed so far is nothing but the tip of the iceberg. Nigerians should stay tuned for more shocking revelations in the days ahead,” he said.