The president said critics of his administration on corruption were sometimes more corrupt.
President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday charged Nigeria’s two major anti-graft agencies to carry out their duties in a way that would be felt by all Nigerians.
Mr. Jonathan gave the challenge to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC, when he swore-in some public officials in Abuja.
Those sworn-in include the Special Adviser to the President on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, NEPAD, Fidelia Njeze; and the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly, Sulaiman Ajadi. Others are the Chairman, National Population Commission, Ezeduru Ihuoma, and some of its commissioners; and an ICPC commissioner, Bako Abdullahi; shortly before the commencement of the Federal Executive Council Meeting.
“ICPC and EFCC must make Nigerians believe that they are working,” the president said. “I know what you are doing but not everybody knows what you are doing. Ordinarily, these are agencies whose activities are not supposed to be made too loud because you don’t celebrate a situation where you send 100 or 200 Nigerians to prison.”
Mr. Jonathan also berated those criticizing him for not fighting corruption; adding that many of such people were more guilty of corrupt practices.
“The society is so funny that these days anybody who wants to claim any element of credibility at all will go to the television and attack government for corruption. The President’s body language shows that he is not fighting corruption or he is not ready to fight corruption,” he said. “And sometimes it is even the very corrupt people that are making these statements because if you attack government you are insulated, you become an angle. If you want to (be) an angle just attack the government.
The president said despite the covert nature of operations of the anti -graft agencies, it has become important for them to prove to Nigerians that they are working.
“Recently, the EFCC published the list of about 250 people they have convicted and that is a huge number of people and they said the government is not fighting corruption. How many countries have convicted half that number of people within a space of time? But before the publication, so many people did not believe that the EFCC are even going to work.
“In as much as we frown and a number of Nigerians don’t feel that people should be convicted, it should to happen before on television, even before you are tried you are convicted, and people feel that is not good. So in a situation when you secured convictions you should be able to tell Nigerians from time to time, so that people appreciate that these two agencies are working. I know you are working but not everybody knows you are working” he said.
Speaks on NPC
Mr. Jonathan also recalled the reason he fired the former National Population Commission chairman, Festus Odimegwu.
He said he dropped Mr. Odimegwu because of his statement that brought credibility problem to the commission. Mr. Odimegwu had said previous census figures of Nigeria that gave the north a higher population were doctored.
The president warned the commission’s new chairman to be mindful of the statements he makes, so as not create a problem for the society.
“… you also have to be mindful about the statements you make and that is not limited to the national population commission alone but to all of us who are holding offices.
“You must be very mindful and not make statements that will create problem for the society. I dropped your predecessor of certain statements he made and brought credibility problem to the commission. He is a fine gentleman, everybody knows him, very cerebral. But an institution like the National Population Commission must be one that people will believe in whatever you do”.
He told the new NPC boss to immediately step aside, when and if he makes any pronouncements that will cause a credibility problem for the commission.
“The best thing is for you to step aside for some other person to step in because the credibility of that institution is critical. Perception in most cases are stronger that real, no matter what you do if the perception is wrong then society will not follow you.
“So I believe that you will bring strong leadership to the National Population Commission as the Senior Advocate of Nigeria, I believe you are at the highest level of practice, you are at the top and you will do a good job there” the president said.
Mr. Jonathan emphasised the need for a credible census for Nigeria.
“When we have a country that the population is growing than the way our economy is growing, then we must know our population figures, so that government at federal, state and local levels will be able to plan.
“Because you cannot plan base on what you don’t know but if you know you can plan for it. If we know the total number of children we are expecting then you will know how to expand the facilities you have in your basic education institutions.
Charges National Assembly adviser
Mr. Jonathan also charged his Special Adviser on National Assembly to relate well with the federal lawmakers and ensure that there is a harmonious relationship between the executive and the legislature.
“You are also coming at a very interesting time when some people are crossing to the left and some people are crossing to the right. Luckily you have been a part of the National Assembly before, you have been a Senator, you know the games you play there you know your trick. You will be able to relate with every member of the National Assembly.
“The federal government is for everybody and that is why we cannot talk the way they talk. Because as long as you won election to be the president of a country you are the president of everybody, even those who abuse you, even those that are ready to kill you, so you have to protect them.
“So you are there to relate with all members of the National Assembly, to make sure that the executive and members of the parliament work in the interest of this country and for the development of our people.”
Noting that the NEPAD and the Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) were concepts of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, he also told his new adviser on NEPAD that the key focus areas to be handled by her are relatively new in the nation’s political history.