Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday in Abuja spoke for the first time on the allegations of corruption leveled against the leadership of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The president, who spoke after observing his Eid prayers at the fore court of the presidential villa, observed that some appointees of the government in both his administration and the previous one have abused public trust.
He, however, expressed delight that some stolen assets are being recovered, sold and proceeds put into the Single Treasury Account (TSA), which is inaccessible to the corrupt persons involved. When asked how he felt about recent revelations coming out from the EFCC and the NDDC, President Buhari said:
“But we have introduced TSA where all the monies are taken and I said assets should be sold and the money be put through TSA so that it can be identified at any level and I will see who will come after us and take it back again to those who misappropriated public funds.”
While assuring that all past and present cases would be fully investigated, he said: “This is why we put the commission (the Justice Ayo Salami probe panel) in place.” He stressed that all of such cases would be uncovered and firmly dealt with by his government.
The Senate and House of Representatives are currently investigating how the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) allegedly squandered N40 billion in five months.
The Presidency also instituted a presidential probe panel headed by retired Justice Ayo Salami to investigate allegations of gross misconduct against the suspended acting Chairman of the EFCC,
Meanwhile, President Buhari, has described the recent security challenges in the north east and north central as very disturbing, saying the security agencies can do better.
The President spoke barely 24 hours after mortar attacks by Boko Haram insurgents in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, killed six persons and wounded 27 others.
This is also coming a day after the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) described as horrifying the escalating insecurity in different parts of the country, noting that the current security system was not working and should be rejigged.
According to a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Buhari said while his administration inherited Boko Haram – North East and militancy in the South South, Nigerians can testify that he and his team have done their best.
In a message to Nigerians shortly after performing the Eid prayers with his family and aides at the forecourt of the State House, Abuja on Friday, Buhari said that while much had been achieved, security wise, from the situation he inherited in 2015, more still needed to be done.
He said: “I wish Nigerians the best of luck. In the Eid-Kabir sermon, the Imam has said it all, we want security, prosperity and well being of all Nigerians. We want Nigerians to be very conscious of their country. What we inherited when we came in 2015 was Boko Haram in North East and the militancy in the South South. Nigerians know that we have done our best. However, what is coming out of the North West and the North Central is very disturbing.”
Responding to a specific question on the performance of the Service Chiefs, which recently, he said needed to get better, the President said that the Military, the Police and other security agencies are working hard.
“We are making available resources to them to even do better,” he assured, adding that “from the reports I am getting, they could do much better…they could do much better. But we are keeping them on the alert all the time to do their duties.”
On the specific case of the Niger Delta, the President decried the wastage of the resources earmarked for the betterment of the lives of the people of that region, lamenting that corruption had been unhelpful in that regard, especially “if you recall there is the 13 per cent derivation.” He also warned against the vandalization of oil pipelines in the oil- producing areas, which often results in environmental pollution.
“Those who are blowing pipelines and interfering with the production of petroleum products are hurting their people more than the rest of Nigerians because majority of their people are fishermen, fisherwomen and farmers. Now if they pollute the land and the waters, the fish goes into the deeper sea where the people cannot go and they cannot grow anything. They are hurting their immediate communities more than any other thing,” the President further noted.