The Federal Government Monday pleaded with the media to fully support its anti-corruption fight and desist from mocking the process. The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the call at the opening of the 68th General Assembly of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria, BON, in Abuja.
Mohammed said the media as the Fourth Estate of the Realm could not afford to sit on the fence in the fight against corruption. He said the government was not averse to constructive criticism of the process but that it was wrong for the media to mock the corruption fight through their reporting.
According to him: “Without mincing words, let me use this platform to appeal directly to the media in general to join this administration in facing the problem of corruption. In recent times, it is not unusual to read such headlines as ‘Buhari’s Government Losing Anti-Corruption War’, `Buhari’s Anti-Corruption War is Failing,’ ‘Arewa Youths Knock President Buhari over Failing Anti-corruption War.’
“This is sheer mockery, not reporting, and this war is not Buhari’s war. It is our war. “As we have said times without number, this fight must not be seen as Buhari’s fight. It must not be seen as the Federal Government’s fight. It is our fight. “We are not saying the media should not criticize us over our strategy for the fight, but they should stop mocking us. “If we fail to win by defeating corruption, it will simply kill us as a nation,” he said.
The minister noted that if the media continued to celebrate every setback suffered in prosecuting corruption cases, it would give succour to the corrupt. He said Nigeria was winning the war against corruption with the type of leadership provided by Buhari. “Yes, corruption is fighting back furiously, but it cannot match the courage, the determination and the commitment of this administration, or can it dampen the leadership of President Buhari.
We are tackling corruption; we have added 500 million dollars to our Sovereign Wealth Fund that stagnated at the one-billion-dollar that was used to set it up. We have raised our foreign reserves from 23 billion dollars to 35 billion dollars. We stopped the payment of phantom subsidy of between N800 billion and 1.3 trillion Naira annually, yet petroleum products are available at competitive prices,” he said.
The minister said the government had recovered at least 43 million dollars and 56 houses from one former government official. He said that 2.9 billion dollars had been recovered from looters so far, while the Whistle-blower policy had led to the recovery of 151 million dollars and N8 billion in looted funds from three sources.
Mohammed added that with the sincere and full implementation of the Treasury Singles Account, N3 trillion had accrued to the government. He said that with the elimination of thousands of ghost workers in its payroll, the Federal Government had saved N120 billion.