President Muhammadu Buhari has reacted to the report by Transparency International, which indicates that the scourge of corruption is getting worse in the country.
The President faulted the report in a statement issued on Friday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu.
Mr Shehu noted that while the Presidency welcomes constructive criticisms from the anti-corruption watchdog, the organisation has a responsibility to reflect the larger picture of the concrete and verifiable achievements of President Buhari’s administration since it came into office in May 2015.
“The government is still wondering the criteria or facts used by the anti-corruption watchdog to arrive at its very misleading and unfair conclusions in its assessment of the Federal Government’s efforts in this anti-corruption crusade,” the statement read.
“Political will is the first major component of fighting corruption in any country and President Buhari has made a huge difference by demonstrating not only the political will but also the extraordinary courage to go after high-profile looters, including former military service chiefs and judges.”
According to the presidential aide, it is once unthinkable to touch or prosecute the “big men” for corruption in Nigeria but President Buhari has ended impunity for corruption.
He maintained that the Federal Government has made accountability the bedrock of governance and corruption is no longer fashionable because it attracts consequences.
Shehu stressed further that blocking leakages for corruption through the “rigid enforcement” of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) had made life tougher for corrupt officials, saying President Buhari regretted that the anti-corruption watchdog did not acknowledge such efforts.
He said figures published by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) revealed that N738.9 billion was recovered in just two years of the Buhari administration.
The President’s spokesman noted that such impressive record was worthy of mention and acknowledgment by anyone “genuinely looking at the larger picture” of Nigeria’s progress in the anti-corruption war.
The statement read further: “During the 7th session of the Conference of State Parties to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in Vienna, Austria, the Chairman of the Agency Ibrahim Magu noted that the figure represents $2.9billion. Besides these impressive recoveries of looted funds, the EFCC has recorded more than 140 successful prosecutions.
“The Federal Government has also signed international agreements to recover the proceeds of corruption and to block the laundering of stolen assets abroad by public officials. Anybody who knows where Nigeria was coming from would not believe that corruption is worse under the Buhari administration.
“We wonder where they got their facts from. At a time, they are alleging increase in the incidence of corruption under this government, the whole of Africa is applauding by choosing President Buhari as the continental champion to lead the fight against it. Nothing can be more eloquent than this.
“In the end, this whole episode may turn out to be just a political distraction, given the strong views some of TI’s patrons have expressed against the Buhari administration. This notwithstanding, facts are facts, and those facts won’t cease to be facts even if you don’t care to pay attention to them.”