hope of Nigerians to know the identities of those who dipped their hands in the national coffers has been suspended as President
Muhammadu Buhari, in his Democracy Day speech, failed to name and shame looters of public funds.
However, following his directive, a list of Recovered
looted funds and assets would be made known to the public this week, Minister of Information and Orientation, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said.
Speaking on a programme: Assessing the government; the first year, which aired on a national television yesterday, the minister said: “We will get the list but not today… before the end of the week. But I must say not with the names.”
When asked why the president did not fulfill his promise, the minister said: “Of course, for obvious legal reasons. The president said he was going to release the amount recovered and where the recovered assets are.”
Apparently realising that his argument was not convincing, Mohammed said: “Yes, he initially said so (naming looters), but he was advised against doing so for legal reasons. Of course, he has a right to reverse himself on that.”
But the Senior Special Assistant to President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu said Buhari has remained true to his words on the issue of recovered loot.
“He has done what he has promised. He has given directive that the information be published by the Ministry of Information.
“Records will be obtained by the CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) and the investigation agencies regarding recovery and seizures, and actual status with regard to frozen sums in banks and assets held wherever they are. Going forward, he has asked them to update the information periodically. The minister should be ready with this when work resumes, possibly Wednesday or Thursday,” he added.
Buhari had told journalists on the sideline during the Anti-Corruption Summit in London, that public funds looters would be named and prosecuted.
“Yes, eventually, it has to be done (names of those indicted will be published) because we want to successfully prosecute them… People signed for these monies into their personal accounts, their banks gave statements that the money is there, when it came, how much and so on,” he said.
But President Buhari, in his address marking Democracy Day kept mute on the identity of looters, but said that significant amount has been recovered.
He vowed that Militants
and their sponsors blowing up pipelines would be apprehended and brought to book, even as he added that the attacks on oil and Power Installations
by militants will not hamper dialogue with the leaders of Niger Delta.
He said his administration has delivered on key milestones of security, corruption and economy. “On the Niger Delta, we are committed to implementing the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report and are advancing clean-up operations. I believe the way forward is to take a sustainable approach to address the issues that affect the delta communities. Re-engineering the amnesty programmes is an example of this. The recent spate of attacks by militants disrupting oil and power installations will not distract us from engaging leaders in the region in addressing Niger Delta problems. If the militants and vandals are testing our resolve, they are much mistaken. We shall apprehend the perpetrators and their sponsors and bring them to justice”.
On palliative to ameliorate the suffering of Nigerians, he said his administration will soon launch N1.6 billion microfinance scheme for women as well as half a trillion for social safety nets programme.
Still basking in the euphoria of recent rescue of two of the girls captured from a secondary school by Boko Haram over two years ago, the president said his administration was continuing negotiation for the release of the remaining Chibok girls.
Buhari who noted that during the last one year of his administration, “not a single day passed without my agonizing about these girls”, said his government’s efforts have centred around negotiations to free them safely from their mindless captors.
According to him: “We are still pursuing that course. There safety is of paramount concern to me and I am sure to most Nigerians. I am very worried about the conditions those still captured might be in. Today, I re-affirm our commitment to rescuing our girls. We will never stop until we bring them home safely. As I said before, no girl should be put through the brutality of forced marriage and every Nigerian girl has the right to an education and a life choice.”
On the degrading of Boko Haram activities in the North East, the President paid tribute to the nation’s armed forces for their role in making it happened.
He said his administration from the starting block set out purposely to correct the condition met on ground, to change Nigeria, hence the decision to reinforce and galvanize the nation’s armed forces with new leadership and resources and marshal the country’s neighbours in a joint task force to tackle and defeat Boko Haram.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun yesterday disclosed how a Nigerian, whom she did not name, stole $1 billion from the public treasury.
Adeosun, while explaining the impact of the $1 billion stolen on the nation’s economy, said: “Let me tell you what a billion dollar translate to: A counterpart funding for Lagos to Kano rail is N60 billion; counterpart funding to complete Lagos-Calabar rail is N60 billion.”
She said the amount needed to complete Lagos/ Ibadan, “which I think in your extract the President was speaking about is N160 billion. So, we have to put these things into context, within what we have done and what we need. And this is partly because of corruption,” She explained.
She said the war against corruption was having good effects in reviving the economy in view of a lot of money that have been recovered or about to be recovered from those who looted them.