President Goodluck Jonathan has lamented that in spite of institutional reforms aimed at fighting corrupt practices, Nigerians, through their actions encourage graft.
He also said both the public and private sectors were involved in corruption but stated that he would not give out their names “so that I won’t be attacked.”
The President spoke while declaring open the 54th annual conference of the Nigerian Economic Society in Abuja on Tuesday.
The conference, which has as its theme, “Institutions, institutional reforms and economic development,” is the single largest gathering of economists in the country.
Jonathan argued that if Nigerians did not “reward corrupt practices” through their actions, those involved in them would have no need to continue.
He said, “I want a society where all of us will frown upon people who come up with what they are not supposed to have.
“(If) a young man who just started a job and within six months or a year comes up with a car of N7m to N15m and you clap for him, then you are rewarding corruption.
“So for us as a nation to bring corruption down, it is not just blaming government or blaming the police but all individuals must frown upon people who have what they are not supposed to have; who live in houses they are not supposed to live in; who drive cars they are not supposed to drive and who wear expensive suits they are not supposed to wear.
“And until Nigerians are able to do this, I don’t think we will get to where we want to go.”
Advising that the war against corruption should not be left to the government alone, Jonathan said both public and private institutions were also involved in sharp practice.
He advised that the country should stop creating an environment where people would be tempted to take what belonged to the public.
The President said “ When you talk about corruption, the private sector is involved; the public sector is involved; even individuals. But I wouldn’t want to mention names so that I will not be attacked.
“But I know that if collectively we don’t reward corruption, people would not be attracted to corrupt practices but when we all reward corruption, then of course, we will be tempted to go in that direction.”
He however said his administration would continue to focus on how to strengthen all anti-corruption agencies to enable them discharge their duties effectively.
Jonathan explained that his administration’s approach to fighting graft was targeted at building institutions that had the capacity to overcome corrupt influences.
This approach, according to him, will use the rule of law as a framework.
In this regard, he said the leadership of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other-Related Offences Commission had been repositioned to ensure effective, efficient and transparent way of managing corruption and corrupt practices.
He said that a major principle underlying the implementation of his transformation agenda was the unwavering conviction that reforms must not be centred on individuals, no matter how strong they might be.
Rather, he said his administration recognised the fact that in order for reforms to be sustainable, they must be driven by strong, sound and effective processes and institutions.
On the management of government finances, Jonathan said that the nation’s budget was now being managed electronically.
He said, “For many years, the process had been manual – government officials carrying documents and files from one office to another.
“This manual system created opportunities for corrupt practices and also introduced many ghost workers and ghost pensioners to the payrolls.
“Today, we have put in place computerised systems and processes to manage the government payroll and also government finances.”
At the event, the Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and a former Minister of Health, Prof Eyitayo Lambo, were conferred with a fellowship award of the NES.
The institute had only conferred its fellowship award on 38 distinguished economists in its 56 years of existence.
Source: Punch Nigeria