Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, yesterday made another shocking revelation, alleging that 55 Nigerians in both government and private sectors of the economy have been found to have either aided or abetted the theft of N1.34trillion from government treasury in the past seven years (2006 to 2013).
Breaking down the figures at a meeting with Bureau Chiefs of media houses in Abuja yesterday, the Minister said, “Between the period under review (2006 and 2013) just 55 people allegedly stole a total of N1.34 trillion from government coffers. That’s more than a quarter of last year’s national budget.
Explaining further, the minister said, ‘’Out of the stolen funds, 15 former governors allegedly stole 146.84 billion naira; 4 former Ministers allegedly stole 7 billion naira; 12 former Public Servants, both at federal and state levels, allegedly stole over 14 billion naira; 8 people in the banking industry allegedly stole 524 billion naira; while 11 businessmen allegedly stole 653 billion naira.
“This figure was just discovered in the record of the past seven years. If we take it to 2015, Nigerians will marvel at the revelation that will be made, as regards how the past, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP government mismanaged the economy of Nigeria.”
He however blamed the previous administration under the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP of insensitive to the plight of Nigerians, particularly the common man, who have been subject to untold hardship and increased poverty as a result of the years of corruption.
Using the World Bank Rates and Costs, the minister explained that one third of the stolen funds could have provided 635.18 kilometres of road; built 36 ultra modern hospitals per state; built 183 schools; educated 3,974 children from primary to tertiary level at 25.24 million per child; and built 20,062 units of 2-bedroom houses.
“This is the money that a few people, just 55 in number, allegedly stole within a period of just eight years and instead of a national outrage, all we hear are these nonsensical statements that the Government is fighting only the opposition, or that the government is engaging in vendetta,” he said.
He challenged Nigerians and every arm of government to rise and be counted in the epic war, and “defeat is not an option if our country is to survive even as President Muhammadu Buhari likes to say, ‘if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria’. There is no better way to say it,” he stressed.
Fielding questions from the media professionals, the minister solicited the support of the media in sensitizing Nigerians to the damage that corruption has done to the nation, warning that unless Nigeria kills corruption, the vice is capable of killing Nigeria.
To ensure the success of the campaign, the minister urged the media to replicate the support they are giving to the Federal Government in its ongoing national security awareness campaign.
‘’Thanks to the support we have received from the media, especially in this (national security) sensitization campaign. I can now tell you that Nigerians have taken ownership of the war against terrorism and are also giving their undiluted support to our gallant military,” he said.