….. says Treasury Looters Under Jonathan Now Returning Stolen Funds Secretly
President Muhammadu Buhari has said it was easy for him during his tenure as a military Head of State in 1985 to arrest and put those alleged corrupt individuals in protective custody for them to prove their innocence but the dictates of rule of law and due process has slowed him down in prosecuting corruption in this dispensation.
He further said that certain treasury looters in the immediate past administration of President Goodluck Jonathan have begun discreet return of stolen funds to his government.
The President stated this in Tehran, the capital of the Islamic Republic of Iran at a forum with the Nigerian community in that country.
Buhari, in a question and answer session with the Nigerian community in that country, explained that those accused of corruption would have been prosecuted by now but for the need to thoroughly investigate them with a view to gathering enough evidences for their eventual trial.
Commenting, Buhari said “On corruption; yes, they are still innocent. But, we are collecting documents and some of them have started voluntarily returning something. But we want all.
When we get those documents we will formally charge them to court and then we will tell Nigerians to know those who abused trust when they are entrusted with public funds.So, the day of reckoning is gradually approaching.”
The President also pledged to deal with saboteurs in the nation’s power sector in order to bring back sanity and service delivery to the populace.
He said that the sabotage and theft of gas were undermining the efforts of the government to increase power supply in the country.
To tackle the problem, the President announced that existing Military Task-Forces will be reorganized to ensure a successful protection of the network of gas pipelines, of pipeline installations continued to be a problem.
He told his audience that Nigeria had everything it takes to generate enough power.
“Power is a running battle because the saboteurs are still there. We have the potential. We have gas, we have qualified people but we are contending with a lot of saboteurs who go and blow up installations. When gas is pumped to Egbin and such other power stations, thieves and saboteurs such as the militants cut those supplies,” President Buhari said.
He also cited another factor as the reduced role of the government in the sector due to the privatization of the institutions under the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, in the process of which, he said, the facilities “have been sold to a number of interest groups.”
He assured that the Military Task-Forces with representation from the Army, Navy, Air Force, the Police and other security agencies will be reconstituted to secure the pipelines. “Supplies will become steady; there will be less sabotage as we secure the pipelines,” he stressed.
Buhari, who confessed that he has yet to give any direct policy directive on the power sector before the improvement in service experienced in the country in the past few months, said his government would ensure that the needful, especially improvement of security, was done to ensure regular power supply.
He said “I believe if you are in touch back at home you would have been told that already there is some improvement in power.
“We haven’t said anything to them yet. I think they only find it sensible or appropriate for them to try and improve the power.
“I’m sure you know about the privatization of the power sector; your old friends NEPA or Power Holding Company of Nigeria have been sold to a number of interest groups. But, the fundamental thing about us is that we remain potential in everything except performance.
“We have a lot of gas, we have a lot of qualified people but again we have a lot of saboteurs who go and blow installations. Those who normally steal Nigerian crude and those who blow up installations, whether they called themselves militants or whatever, they are still there.”
President Buhari also updated the Nigerians in Tehran on the efforts of his administration towards ending the Boko Haram insurgency and terrorism in the country, explaining that a lot had been achieved following the reorganization of the military top command, followed by increased equipment supply and training.
In a response to a question on the need to improve healthcare delivery, the President said that efforts had been intensified towards ridding the country of fake drugs and fake doctors, and also what he called “the disgraceful aspects” manifested by “baby factories.”
He also enumerated several steps being taken towards the revival of education from primary school level to university. On the creation of jobs, he placed the prevailing joblessness in the country at the door-step of the last administration which he blamed for giving “a devastating blow to the economy through corruption and incompetence.”
The President said that something urgent will be done about the bad condition of roads, citing the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway as one to be addressed from next week by the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, who sat next to him at the meeting.
Speaking on the issue of corruption, one of the three issues he identified as the priorities of his administration, President Buhari said that the necessity for compliance with due process of the law was responsible for the delay in the prosecution of the looters of the country’s economy. He noted however, that the “the day of reckoning is gradually coming.” He also revealed that a number of past officials had begun the voluntary return of stolen funds but expressed the view that his government was not satisfied with tokens.”We want to have everything back – all that they took by force in 16 years,” the President concluded.
Buhari also told the Nigerian community that his administration was resolute in combating the Boko Haram insurgents even as he assured them that peace would soon return to the troubled North-eastern states of the country.
This is just as he assured the people that his administration would revamp the nation’s educational system from the primary school to the tertiary levels even as he promised to ensure that more Nigerians are sent into Iran on scholarship because of the level of discipline and orderliness of that country.