Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo said on Tuesday that no one in the country carried out any fraud or corrupt practice without making it to reflect the federal character.
Osinbajo made the statement in his keynote speech in Abuja at the presentation of a book “Anatomy of Corruption in Nigeria, Issues, Challenges and Solutions,’’ edited by Mr Yusuf Ali (SAN).
“Look at any typical case of fraud of corruption, you will never find three Igbo men or three Yoruba men or three Hausa-speaking men.
“You will find federal character.
“They are all represented; you will find the Igbo man, Fulani man, Hausa man and Yoruba man.
“And you will also find amongst them Christians and Muslims.’’
He advocated that the Nigerian elite who had the special privilege of education and position should use the responsibility of the privilege to fight everything that distorted and killed the economy and the people.
Osinbajo said corruption must be recognised for what it is and treated as such by making “no excuses about it and fighting it with determination’’.
He gave an assurance that the Muhammadu Buhari administration was determined to fight corruption.
He noted that in spite of criticisms, the administration would leave a legacy in the nation of a government that chose to stand by truth and chose to stand by doing things right.
The vice-president also agreed with the saying that corruption arose out of leadership problem which was beyond politics and included religious, judicial and social aspects.
He said unless there was a determined effort to fight corruption across religious and political lines, the country would remain in a continuous circle of corruption and economic adversity.
Osinbajo said Buhari was one person who would resist the increase in petrol pump price but had no choice than to allow it at this time.
He described corruption as not only a social evil but an existential threat to the country, adding that there was no doubt that corruption was everywhere.
“But I think that the one distinguishing feature for Nigeria and for many other countries like ours is that it is a threat that directly threatens the lives and the livelihood of everyone.
“It is not just an evil or immorality, it is existential because it could truly destroy lives and it has destroyed many lives and has continued to destroy the Nigerian economy,’’ he said.
Osinbajo noted that for the period Nigeria was earning more than 100 dollars from a barrel of oil for about five years, its external reserve remained unchanged.
“Today, we are investigating cases which show that over 15 billion dollars was lost in one type of contract, not oil contract but security-related contracts.
“We haven’t talked about oil contracts which ran into several billions.
“When you consider that Nigeria’s reserve as at today stands at about 27 billion dollars and you are investigating 15 billion dollars in one sector alone, that is over half of the entire reserve for the country,’’ he said.
Osinbajo described the scenario as not only “stealing the resource of the country but also stealing the future’’.
He said this was the reason the country found itself in the present situation where some state governments could not pay workers’ salaries for upwards of six months.
He described the lawyer-editor as a man of excellent character and commended him for also creating the integrity and anti-corruption foundation
Osinbajo expressed the hope that the initiator would remain consistent in promoting the foundation and pledged the determination of the Federal Government to support the initiative.
Ali, in his speech, described corruption as “a universal phenomenon that has decided to take permanent residence in Nigeria’’.
“Corruption has afflicted Nigeria like a curse for so long that it has engendered extensive, deep, devastating poverty and economic crisis,’’ he said.
He noted that the top to bottom approach to fighting corruption might not yield good results but suggested that the fight should be “systematic, holistic, thorough, painstaking, honest, transparent and extensive’’.
The legal luminary noted that to wean many of corruption would entail serious moral, ethical, political, social and economic re-orientation.
He said the society must return to the days when those engaged in such evil were “named, shamed and ostracised’’.
Ali said that his founding of the integrity, transparency and anti-corruption foundation was to focus on research into the problems of corruption in all the institutions of state in the country.(NAN)