President Muhammadu Buhari has said that criticism of the anti-corruption crusade will not deter his government from ensuring that those who found to have engaged in looting public funds are brought to book.
Instead of being deterred, he said the crusade will be strengthened and fought at all levels.
Buhari who was apparently reacting to insinuations that the fight has not yielded any positive impact said the responsibility of the government t was to investigate and prosecute those found to have wanting, while the judiciary is the one who convict offenders.
The President spoke in an interview published in the 2017/2018 Nigeria Outlook, a study on the economy, governance and investment opportunities in the country compiled by a team of Nigerian professionals led by Reginald Ibe and Dahiru Ganiyu Ali.
He said: “we are succeeding in the anti-corruption war. Cases are being investigated and those indicted are prosecuted. The number of conviction is not within the ambit of the executive.
“Ours is to investigate and charge to court, while it is the duty of the judiciary to convict. We can’t be prosecutor and jury at the same time. We respect the principle of separation of power as enshrined in our constitution. We don’t tele-guide the judiciary and the onus is on that institution to do its work expeditiously.
“The anti corruption war is not limited in scope. Anybody that runs foul of the law will answer for it. We will strengthen the war in due course. You don’t need a national debate to fight corruption. You just need to crack down on corrupt people with fear of favour. We will strengthen the war and fight it at all levels.”
President Buhari said the major task of his government is to make an enduring impact on the life of Nigerians, adding that it is unfortunate that for many decades, “we paid lip service to diversifying the economy.
“But we merely succeeded in turning ourselves into a mono economy. And when oil price crashed, we simply crashed with it as a nation. It should never happen again, and that is why we are focused on Agriculture, mines and steel development, as well as manufacturing. We will lay a solid foundation and build on it. That will ensure that Nigeria will never be at the mercy of just one commodity again.
“Oil will still get attention, but it get it along with ,any other commodities. That is our goal, and Nigeria and the international community can count on our single mindedness as an administration. We are determined to make a difference.”
On the plans of the government to revamp the economy, the President said: “One thing I can say confidently is that the Economic Recovery and Growth plan as enunciated by the administration will place the Nigerian economy on a sound foundation that will stand us in good stead for decades. The duty of the government is to make salutary impacts on the lives of the people and that is what we are resolved to do.
“If you look at the ERGP, you will notice that it projects into the future. That shows you that it has already factored in many things. Anybody that is honest with himself will admit that we have charted a direction that will lead us even far beyond 2020 as a nation.”
On over bloated public service and whether the government has plans to right size, President Buhari said “There is time for everything. This time of parlous economic reality is not the right time to send more people into the Labour market, this is a government with a human face.
“The human being is the Centre of our universe. We met a monthly wage bill of the public service at about N165 billion. It is very easy to say downsize. But rather, we preferred to audit the system and scores of thousands of ghost workers have been discovered in the process.
“We saved more than N20 billion which has reduced the monthly wage bill significantly. We will continue to audit the process, get the correct number of workers we have, rather than retrench and cause more misery. I have said it before and I say it again. If I have my way, no single Nigerian will lose his or her job at this time.”
In the fight against Boko Haram, he said “We have achieved a lot in the fight against Boko Haram. However. A sociological study will be conducted on what caused Boko Haram and what sustained it for so long. That is toward ensuring that such does not reoccur again in this country”