The federal government says it is aware that those who mismanaged the wealth of the country have been using their influence to frustrate its anti-corruption campaign.
Speaking in Lagos on Sunday, Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, said the current administration would not be discouraged by the ploy of its opponents.
Describing as an incentive, the commendation which John Kerry, US secretary of state, gave to President Muhammadu Buhari on his anti-graft fight, Mohammed said the battle must be won for the nation to achieve sustainable growth.
At a speech delivered during the just-concluded World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Kerry lauded the current administration.
Mohammed said he would soon kick-start a series of town hall meetings across the country to take the sensitisation campaign, which he launched in Abuja last Monday, directly to Nigerians.
”The federal government is delighted that the anti-corruption war being led by President Muhammadu Buhari has been acknowledged and applauded on a global stage,” he said.
”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… ‘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.”
Mohammed said corruption was responsible for the endemic poverty in the country, noting that whereas Nigeria’s national budget has increased from just over N900 billion in 1999 to over N6 trillion in 2016, poverty has also increased almost by the same proportion.
“The reason is not far-fetched: Appropriated funds have mostly ended up in the pockets of a few looters,” he said.
”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.”
He faulted the view that the government was dwelling too much on the war against corruption to the detriment of other areas of governance.
“The situation is very grim indeed, as far as corruption is concerned. That is why the federal government is embarking on this sensitisation Campaign,” he said.
“Our approach – which is to count the cost of corruption – is not to vilify anyone but to use facts and figures to give Nigerians a sense of what corruption has done to their lives.”