Jonathan wants Nigerians not to rewards corruption in public and private lives.
President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday called on all Nigerians to launch a collective onslaught against corruption, if the country was to realize its national goals and objectives.
The President, who was speaking in Abuja while declaring open the 54th annual conference of the Nigerian Economic Society (NES), said that until Nigerians from all sections of the society, whether private or public, cease to reward corruption in all ramifications, the country might not be able to realize her potentials.
“We believe we should create an environment where people would not be tempted to take what belongs to the public,” the President said. “Collectively, whether public or private, if people refuse to reward corruption, people would not be attracted to it. We must create a society where every citizen would frown at people who appear with what they are not supposed to have legitimately.
“For us as a nation, to bring corruption down in Nigeria, it must not just be by blaming government, but for all individuals frown at people displaying obscene and illegitimate wealth; people who live in houses that are beyond their means. Until Nigerians are able to do this, we would be rewarding corruption.”
The President, who noted that the theme of the conference: “Institutions, Institutional Reforms and Economic Development” was in line with the transformation agenda of his administration, said it was anchored on efforts to strengthen public institutions to create the enabling environment for private sector investments and ultimately foster industrial growth and higher living standards to majority of Nigerians.
Espousing his believe that to build a nation, one must strengthen the institutions, Mr. Jonathan said that informed the resolve of his administration to pursue a transformation agenda that did not centre on individuals, rather on developing strong, sound and effective mechanisms, processes and institutions for reforms for sustainable development.
“As a country, our focus should be on strengthening our institutions. This is the goal we are committed to. Government has continued to initiate reforms aimed at strengthening our national institutions aimed at changing obsolete ways of doing things and engendering modern ideas and processes. In key sectors like power and agriculture, government has developed strong mechanisms and institutions aimed at improving efficiency and fostering economic growth.
“Government approach to fighting corruption has been focused on building strong institutions that have the capacity to overcome corrupt influences, using the rule of law as a framework. Government has repositioned the leadership of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission for effective, efficient and transparent ways of managing corruption and corrupt practices. We are committed to building strong, effective and functional electoral, judicial and oversight institutions, which must be sustainable and have a culture of continuous improvement.”
The special guest speaker at the occasion and Professor of Economics from Columbia State University, John Ohionu, who spoke on “The Visible Hand of Corruption in Nigeria,” had noted that over the last 40 years, corruption had become the only precinct through which Nigeria was being viewed globally.
“All our institutions are perceived as affected,” he said. “Institutions like the judiciary and the legislature made primarily to control abuses of power by public officials are considered heavily tainted.”
Referring to a recent report presented to the U.S. Congress, Mr. Ohionu said the global image of Nigeria exemplified a “massive and widespread pervasive corruption affecting all levels of government and security forces; where judges are easily bribed and litigants cannot rely on the courts to render impartial judgments; police corruption remains rampant as extortions are committed with impunity.”
He noted that corruption in Nigeria had come to be accepted as the modus operandi of everyday life, pointing out that although corruption was not a unique Nigerian phenomenon, systemic corruption was implicating everyone, whether or not they are fully aware of it.
Rather the fight against corruption being pursued as a war against immorality, he said it was more important to focus on and hold the government accountable for delivering services and projects on time, on budget and according to contractor’s specification.
The focus, he said, should not be to worry about whether the contract was awarded to friends or party stalwarts, because eventually those who are being held accountable would hire friends or party stalwarts or anybody to do the job, unless they can deliver.
During the ceremony, two Nigerians, including the Minister of Finance and Coordinator for the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and a one-time Minister of Health, Eyitayo Lambo, were decorated as Distinguished Fellows of the Society.
During the investiture, President Jonathan, who congratulated Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala for the honour, described her as “the best World Bank President the world missed to get.”
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