BY CHRIS EKEKE
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has declared that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has a good story to tell on its agenda especially in the fight against corruption. Speaking at the Special (10th) Edition of the Town Hall Meeting held in Abuja, which coincides with the second anniversary of the administration, the minister said that President Buhari has confronted corruption headlong in the last two years.
Mohammed who spoke against the backdrop of criticisms of the anti-corruption war of the administration by Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, said Nigerians should expect more prosecutions and convictions as the government was not resting on its oars in tackling corruption in the public service. “Let me say straightaway that in giving this mid-term report, I am convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that this administration has a story to tell, a story of achievements that – if we are able to continue along this path – will stand the test of time and put our dear nation on the path of sustainable growth and development. “We have taken on corruption at its core. There are more prosecutions and there will be more convictions for public sector corruption than Nigeria has ever seen.
“We have acted to address the leakages in government spending that make corruption possible, through the zero- based budgeting and the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the government’s efficiency unit and the hugely successful whistle-blower policy.” According to him, the government was waging the war against corruption because of its interest in the future prosperity for all Nigerians, pointing out that corruption levels in our society had become completely unacceptable and that the brazenness and impunity of those involved, and the lack of accountability at all levels of society had to be addressed “if we were to create the foundations for future prosperity.”
“That future prosperity, for all Nigerians, was the overriding objective of the administration. We were, and remain, 100 per cent
committed to delivering an economy that enables all Nigerians to achieve their ambitions, no matter how big, or small,” he stated.
Mohammed spoke on other achievements of the administration of President Buhari. Continuing, the minister recalled that “When President Buhari was inaugurated on May 29th, 2015, he set out an ambitious agenda to take on the most pressing challenges our nation faces. It’s important to remember the context of that speech, and the situation that we faced at that time.
“As he was speaking, Boko Haram was in control of a significant part of Nigeria’s North-East. In Borno State alone, Boko Haram occupied 24 out of the State’s 27 local councils. The territorial integrity of Nigeria was threatened. Our first, and most pressing assignment, therefore, was to restore security to the nation.
“We have restored security to the North-East and ended the scourge of Boko Haram. We are addressing comprehensively the issues in the Niger Delta that make the production of our oil resources so vulnerable. We are restoring the sanctity of our judicial system, and we are implementing an Economic Recovery and Growth Plan designed to reset our economy and remove our reliance on oil production, and oil revenues, forever.
“These are just a few of the initiatives that government is delivering on and it is this last message on the economy that I want to focus on now. We must be able to own our own future. We cannot be a hostage to oil price or production levels. That means taking back control of our economy and making it productive and delivering value for all of our people.
“By building an economy that is no longer reliant on income from one commodity, thanks to the ongoing diversification process, we will create a sustainable basis for long term and inclusive growth for all. The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan sets out the framework for achieving that, and the Honourable Minister of Budget and National Planning is 100 per cent focused on Implementation,” he added.
Mohammed reitereated that at the heart of this was the need for Nigeria to rebuild the social contract between its government and
people. “Government must be accountable, and this government is very accountable. We are providing security, we are providing an enabling environment for business and we are delivering strong and effective public services.
“Our citizens need to see the value that their taxes are delivering in order to have faith in government, and for us to attract the revenue
we need greater investment in the future. We are here today to show Nigerians that we are and will continue to deliver our side of that
“That is why we are front loading borrowing to fund capital expenditure and build the infrastructure we need. You can see the work
going on and it will only grow as we implement the 2017 budget. “President Buhari has made these commitments to the Nigerian people. He, and his team, is delivering. We are building a future in which all Nigerians can access opportunity and a Nigeria of which we can all be proud,” the minister emphasised.