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Buhari hinges success of anti-graft war on citizens’ commitment

By Segun Olaniyi and Otei Oham, Abuja   |   19 October 2016   |   4:06 am
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. AFP PHOTO / POOL / STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. AFP PHOTO / POOL / STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said the success of the war against corruption in the country requires the commitment of the people and their vow to end the menace.

Buhari spoke in Abuja while addressing stakeholders and participants at the ongoing conference organised by the Senate and House of Representatives Joint Committee on Anti-Corruption with the theme, “The role of the legislature in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.”

Buhari, who was represented at the event by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the bane of development, which has been identified as corruption has damaged the country’s socio-economic and political structure, hence the need to take necessary actions to fight the scourge.

According to him: “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 were 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 by virtue of our positions as chief executives and thinking that we will do it alone without employing the other available human resources. That is not what we need to win the war that is 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 is meant for development, that a corrupt legislature will frustrate all efforts to strengthen institutions via relevant legislation, and that a corrupt judiciary will frustrate all attempts at punishing corrupt crimes and those involved in them.”

The president added: “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 to move forward.”

Senate President, Bukola Saraki in his opening address commended the Buhari-led administration for showing the political will to wage war against corruption. He said this resolve was lacking in previous administrations for over four decades.

“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 unfortunate that not much traction has been achieved in preventing corruption in our public life.”

The Head of the Presidential Committee on Anti-Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay 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 has placed the status of a first citizen and chief executive on the president and governors, but that it does not mean the executive can take actions without recourse to other arms of government.

“For the legislature to play this role effectively, its hands must be clean in order to effectively check other arms of government. A self-seeking and corrupt legislature cannot effectively check the executive or the judiciary,” he stated.

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