The Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, has urged Nigerians to support the current administration in the fight against corruption and engage in the fight like a jihad in order to free Nigeria from the grip of the corrupt persons.
Magu said this on Sunday in a lecture he delivered at the 7th convocation and 10th anniversary of the Fountain University, Osogbo in Osun State.
Speaking at the convocation of the university established by NASFAT, the EFCC boss, whose lecture was delivered by his Chief of Staff, Mr. Olanipekun Olukoyede, said just 55 persons stole N1.3tn between 2006 and 2013.
This amount, Magu said, could fund massive infrastructural development in many sectors and could train almost 4,000 children from primary school to university with a budget of N25m for each of them.
Magu said it was disheartening that these few corrupt persons had turned round to wage war against the commission and the administration using various means including the same people they had impoverished.
The EFCC boss said Nigerians should not leave the anti-corruption war to President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice-President Yemi Osunbajo and the commission alone, saying every Nigerian must support the anti-graft war with the aim of winning it.
He said, “This was why I said we owe it to ourselves, it is a jihad for all of us to wage the war against corruption. It is unpatriotic and a shirking of our responsibilities as citizens to fold our arms and leave the fight against corruption to President (Muhammadu) Buhari, Vice-President (Yemi) Osinbajo, the EFCC and a handful of others. We are all stakeholders in the fight against economic and financial crimes; together we can defeat this evil.
“Indeed, corruption could have killed Nigeria if the rate at which corruption was festering then had not been checked. Take for instance, the money stolen by just 55 people between 2006 and 2013 is well over N1.3tn. One third of this money, using the World Bank rates and cost could have comfortably been used to construct 635.15 km of roads; built 183 schools; educate 3,974 children from primary to tertiary education levels at N25.24m per child; built 20, 062 units of 2-bedroomed houses across the country and do even more.
“The cost of this grand theft therefore is that, these roads, schools and houses will never be built and these children will never have access to quality education because a few rapacious individuals had cornered for themselves what would have helped secure the lives of future generations, depriving them of quality education and healthcare, among others.
“But the corrupt, using sponsored people, claim that they are being prosecuted because of the region they came from, the religion they profess, or their ethnic identity. They do their utmost not to answer the all-important question of whether or not they are guilty of the corruption allegations against them.”
Magu stated that the EFCC had recovered N738bn in about two years due to the support of the President and the commitment of the agency to stop corrupt officials from further plunging the nation into underdevelopment.
He said the EFCC was oblivious of the ethnic background or religious belief of corrupt persons when they were being investigated, saying those playing up the ethnic cards were doing so to whip up sentiments in order to go scot-free with their loots.
He, however, said that the EFCC would not relent in its efforts to stop corruption in the country despite the series of brutal attacks launched by the corrupt persons against him and the commission.
But the Osun State Governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, while addressing the gathering, said it would be extremely difficult to tame corruption as long as the nation depended on “unearned fund” from crude oil.
The governor said corruption was not really the main problem of the nation but laziness, stressing that Nigerians would be very vigilant and would stop corrupt persons from stealing their money if the people worked hard to generate fund for the government.
He said so many people did not know the process of extracting crude oil but they depended on proceeds from its sale.
He added that Lagos State with an average internally generated revenue of N41.7bn per month, was the only state that had weaned itself from the dependency on oil money.
Argbesola said, “Is corruption really our main problem? We are largely lazy. To tame corruption in a rent-seeking economy will be very difficult. I am not in anyway antagonising Magu but what I am saying is that a society that depends on rent can hardly eliminate corruption.”
He advised Nigerian youths to use the insult hurled at Nigeria by the United States President, Donald Trump, to spur them into serious work, critical thinking and innovation in order to create jobs and make the country a better place to live in.