Some unnamed Nigerian elite are mounting pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari to soft pedal on the anti-corruption campaign, his deputy, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), said yesterday.
Vice President Osinbajo spoke at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja during a meeting with a delegation of the Muslim Congress of Nigeria (MCN).
A statement by Osinbajo’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, quoted him as saying the government had been receiving regular messages from the elite asking it to “cool down” on the anti-graft war.
The senders of the messages opined that corruption was not a big deal and that Buhari should merely ask the looters to return the money they allegedly stole and be allowed to walk away, the vice president said.
Osinbajo, however, vowed that such pressure would not deter the government from its effort to rid Nigeria of corruption.
“We get regular messages from some Nigerian elite saying cool down. It is a very strange morality that some of those people have, very complicated but cutting across all tribes and religious differences”, he said.
Osinbajo noted that it was, however, encouraging that the Nigerian masses had a clearer understanding of right and wrong, saying “the masses don’t have that problem”.
“Although some elite are saying it is not a big deal, and that government should merely ask the looters of the commonwealth of the nation to return the money and go; a new tribe of Nigerians who will not compromise their values, but will maintain a sense of right and wrong is now emerging.
“The man on the street is very clear. So, whatever some of these elite say, we shall keep our focus on the masses who voted for us”, the vice president said.
He added that due to corruption, no federal road or rail project was completed in the last 16 years; a situation he described as simply unacceptable.
The cost of projects, he noted, was often inflated as people entrusted with public trust struggle to enrich themselves at the expense of the people.
Prof. Osinbajo further said as a result of the inordinate desire for enrichment, funds meant for arms procurement were shared at a time when Nigeria’s territorial integrity was being threatened by Boko Haram insurgents.
“The insurgency has gone on for six years because government could not adequately equip the military”, the vice president stated.
Osinbajo added: “Mr. President and I are extremely focussed on what we need to do. We will focus on critical things, infrastructure and social investments”.
Earlier, the leader of the delegation, Imam Abdullahi Shuaib, expressed the support of the Muslim Congress of Nigeria for the government’s anti-graft war and other programmes.
“We are thankful that our candidates of choice in the election emerged”, he said, adding that the choice of the president and the vice president was made by God during last year’s presidential election.