Anti-graft fight: We need support, not condemnation, Lai Mohammed tells Transparency International

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Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has urged the global anti-corruption body, Transparency International (TI), to support, rather than condemn, the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration’s fight against corruption.

”Nigeria has never had a more transparent, more accountable government than the Buhari Administration,” the Minister said when he received a TI delegation, led by the Chair of the body’s International Board, Delia Ferreira Rubio, in Abuja on Friday.

”As a policy, this government is the most committed to fighting corruption. We need your support in the area of advocacy and capacity building,” he said.

Mohammed said TI and the local civil society organizations affiliated to it have not offered the necessary support to the Administration, adding: ”They look at the actions of an aberrant few to condemn the government.”

He said when the government disclosed that just 55 people stole 1.34 trillion naira between 2006 and 2013, and when it published the list of looters, in response to a challenge from the opposition, a section of the civil society was busy parroting the cliche that the allegations were one-sided, instead of supporting the government’s action.

The Minister also tasked TI and its affiliates to show more understanding for the sociological complexities of fighting corruption in Nigeria, especially because it operates a federal system of government under which the federal government has no control over the actions of the federating states.

He said the Administration is not just fighting corruption with laws and prosecution, but also with education and inclusiveness in government, citing the government’s ‘Change Begins With Me’ programme as an example of efforts being made to achieve attitudinal change among the citizenry.

Alhaji Mohammed said Nigeria is succeeding in its anti-corruption fight because the fight is being led by a President whose integrity is beyond reproach noting: ”Even his worst critics won’t say he indulges in or encourages corruption.”

He said corrupt persons are using looted funds to mount a virulous campaign against the administration, especially in the social media, because they know that the re-election of the President will spell doom for them.

For her part, the TI global chair said she decided to visit Nigeria, her first-ever visit to Africa, because the country can set the tone for the continent in the fight against corruption.

Ms Ferreira Rubio said TI’s mandate is to offer support through civil society organizations and the private sector to foster the fight against corruption.

She said while the government is doing a lot to fight corruption, it should ensure more transparency and more efficiency in service delivery.

”We are not an opposition anywhere in the world. We are just an NGO working in over 100 countries of the world. We are not enemies. We are here to help,” she said.

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