By Editorial Board
When Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, made good the promise of President Muhammadu Buhari to release the details of money and other assets recovered from persons who had looted the country’s treasury, Nigerians were justifiably excited at the progress so far made.
The minister informed the world that the Buhari administration, from its debut on May 29, 2015 to May 25, 2016, recovered about N116.2 billion cash (excluding USD 5 billion described as interim forfeitures) and 239 physical property that included undeveloped lands, uncompleted and completed buildings, vehicles, maritime vessels and farm lands. The cash recoveries, according to Mohammed, had been kept in a special account.
Though, contrary to all expectations, the released details were without the names of individuals and organisations from whom the recoveries were made, the government this time, kept its promise, and a signal has been sent that the government has some measure of capacity to keep its promise. However, whether the released information without the names of the looters will serve good purposes towards fighting corruption is debatable. This is particularly of interest because, for legal reasons which the government adduced as reason for not disclosing the names of persons involved in looting the commonwealth.
Yet, Nigerians would rather have the government release the names. While the legal obstacle to naming is understood, Nigerians are, however, keen that the looters be thoroughly investigated, prosecuted and punished, if found culpable.
Beyond the foregoing, Nigerians are interested in the government informing them upfront, what the recovered funds and other assets would be used for; measures being put in place to prevent re-looting the recovered assets and curbing treasury looting in the future. The legality and implications of warehousing the recovered funds in a special account rather than in the federation account or treasury single account is also of concern to the people.
While President Buhari deserves to be commended for his commitment to defeating corruption and his decision to make public what has so far been recovered, he still has many steps to take if the vice must be up-rooted. One of the most important steps is to ensure that government’s attention on corruption does not assume a proportion that makes it impossible for the overall wellbeing of the economy to be considered a priority. As it were, a person may become more disposed to corruption when hunger rules.
The current state of the economy, therefore, has to improve in order to elicit holistic support of the citizenry against corruption. Thus, while the war against corruption rages on, the government must quickly address the downhill sliding of the economy. Second, the government must institute full-proof preventive measures such as effective checks and balances in its financial management system, whistle-blowing, training and re-orientation of the work-force on values, ethics, professionalism and corporate governance, to ensure that the nation does not contend with corruption in public and private services.
By Editorial Board
Source : http://www.ngrguardiannews.com
The Guardian (Nigeria)