Incensed by graft in all its forms and shapes, President Muhammadu Buhari said on Monday that his administration was determined to end the menace of corruption in all sectors and national life.
Buhari recalled that as military Head of State (December 1983-July 1985) he fought corruption headlong and held public officers who abused their offices or misused public funds to account.
He gave the pledge at the 2nd National Summit Diminishing Corruption and launch of the country’s National Ethics and Integrity Policy at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, organised by the Office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation in collaboration with the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).
The event was part of activities to mark the country’s 60th independence anniversary and the 20th anniversary of the commission.
He said: “As military Head of State, I fought corruption headlong and held public officers who abused their office or misused public funds to account. Furthermore, I introduced the War Against Indiscipline (WAI), one of whose cardinal objectives was promotion of our cherished culture of ethical conduct, integrity and hard work.
“I recognized in 1984 as I do even more now that corruption poses a clear danger to Nigeria, so, we cannot relent in efforts to eradicate it from our society. As I have often reminded Nigerians, “If we do not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria.”
“In my Inaugural Speech in 2015, I affirmed the determination of this administration to rebuild and reform the public service to become more effective and serviceable. I charged public servants to apply themselves with integrity to stabilize the system and solicited the cooperation of the Legislative arm to maintain their brief of making laws and carrying out oversight functions.
“We must all join hands together to fight corruption and return to our traditional values of honesty and integrity. I hereby use the opportunity of this Summit to launch the National Ethics and Integrity Policy as a fresh roadmap to return Nigeria to these critical national values.”
The President, who underscored the significance of establishing the ICPC, also called for a reform of the country’s judiciary, to boost the fight against corruption.
“This year marks two significant hallmarks in the history of our country. A few days from now, we will, by the grace of God, be celebrating Nigeria’s 60th Anniversary as an independent sovereign nation. This summit also commemorates the 20th Anniversary of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC). The Commission emerged as part of the measures that successive administrations in Nigeria have put in place over the years to fight corruption.’’
Buhari, therefore, called on all Nigerians to join government in fighting corruption so as to return the country to its hallowed values of honesty and integrity.
“In my inaugural speech in 2015, I called for the reform of the judicial system and for the judiciary to act with dispatch in cases, especially cases on corruption, serious financial crimes and abuse of office.
“I believe that it is when the three arms and the three levels of government work together that government will be enabled to serve the country. We will also see the positive impact of our efforts reaching all and sundry across the country.
“Bearing this critical factor in mind, I am happy that the theme of this year’s Summit by ICPC is TOGETHER AGAINST CORRUPTION. I am aware that this theme derives from the theme of our 60th anniversary celebration. Together as a nation, as a people, the three arms and three tiers of government working together, we can attack corruption and realize the vast potentials of our country,” he said.
Buhari also advised public officers to imbibe the culture of honesty in all their dealings, in order to project the country in good light, adding that there will always be a reward for honesty and hard work.
“The National Ethics and Integrity Policy project government’s aspiration for the rediscovery of our cherished traditional ethical values of honesty, integrity, hard work, truth and justice, unity, faith, and consideration for one another irrespective of status or background. Corruption and corruptive tendencies are abhorrent to these core ethical values.
“I am particularly pleased by the recognition and participation of young Nigerians and non-state actors especially the media and civil society at this event because nobody must be left behind and all hands must be on deck in the fight against corruption.
“I wish to reiterate the role of preventive measures and public education and enlightenment against corruption. This government through the Open Treasury initiative, TSA, GIFMIS, BVN and many more is implementing different corruption prevention measures to track and retain government revenue for the use of the people.
“As I mentioned earlier the importance of the public service to our anti-corruption effort, I am therefore extremely delighted to recognize and present the 2020 Public Service Integrity Awards to two honest public servants who have demonstrated the will to look away from graft and corruption,” the president said.
High point of the event was the presentation of awards to Chikezie Favour, winner of Junior Secondary School essay competition and Matilda Daniels, winner of the Senior Secondary school essay competition.
Chief Superintendent of Police Francis Erhabor and Hamza Adamu Buwai of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, who were both recognized and acknowledged as worthy Nigerian public servants for turning down bribes worth millions of Naira.
“I congratulate all the awardees. Even though COVID-19 has not permitted the kind of ceremony that you deserve, Nigeria is proud of you. You are a pride to your families, institutions and to Nigeria.”
Senate President Ahmed Lawan, Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Minister of Justice and Attorney General Abubakar Malami (SAN) and United Nations Resident Coordinator, Mr Edward Kallon, sent in goodwill messages.
In his remarks, Kallon described the level of transparency in fighting corruption under President Buhari as unequivocal.