‘Those who stole us dry are powerful… but we’ll not relent’ – Lai Mohammed

by Emeka Nwankwo

The Nigerian government is relishing in the recent endorsement of its anti-corruption war by the U.S government.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammad, harped on the endorsement while speaking with media executives on Sunday in Lagos.

The U.S secretary of state, John Kerry, at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, while relating how money intending for fighting insurgence was misappropriated by government officials, lauded the Buhari administration for striving to prosecute thieving public officials.

Minister Lai Mohammed, who said the commendation by the US government official came at the appropriate, also stated that:

“The Federal Government is delighted that the anti-corruption war being led by President Muhammad Buhari has been acknowledged and applauded on a global stage.

“It is particularly gratifying that in that speech, Mr Kerry made the link between corruption and terrorism. We agree that corruption is indeed a radicaliser because it destroys faith in legitimate authority. Let me remind you, gentlemen, that radicalisation is a key causative factor of terrorism.”

Mohammed also revealed that he would soon initiate town hall meetings across the country in order to sensitize Nigerians on the issue.

“We know that those who stole us dry are powerful. They have newspapers, radio and television stations and an army of supporters to continuously deride the government’s war against corruption. But we are undaunted and will not relent until corruption is also decimated.”

The minister blamed corruption for the economic hardship in the country. Lai Mohammed further noted that the Nigerian budget has since 1999 risen from N900 billion to N6 trillion in 2006, poverty has also increased proportionately.

“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 is 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.”

According to the Minister a total of 21 individuals partook in the infamous Dasukigate scandal to the tune of N54.659 billion, a total sum of N51.829 was, however, budgeted for 1,278 projects in the 2015 zonal intervention project.

“The implication is that the amount received by 21 individuals and companies is more than the 2015 Zonal Intervention Project budget by N2.829 billion. Furthermore, the value of what the beneficiaries of ‘Dasukigate’ contributed to development is zero, compared to how the lives of Nigerians would have been transformed, poverty reduced and livelihoods improved, by the Zonal Intervention Projects which – as we have shown – would.”

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