Addressing a world press conference in Abuja yesterday, the minister of information, Lai Mohammed said that 55 Nigerians ripped off N1.34 trillion from the nation’s purse from 2006 – 2013. At the press conference which marked the beginning of the war against corruption in Nigeria, the minister gave a breakdown of how the N1.34 trillion was stolen.
Lai Mohammed revealed that 15 former governors stole N146.84 billion; four former ministers took N7 billion; 12 former public servants both at federal and state levels stole over N14 billion; eight other Nigerians in the banking sector made away with N524 billion , while 11 businessmen cornered N653 billion.
Further analysis of this theft as revealed by the minister claimed that according to World bank rates, these stolen funds could have provide 635.18 kilometres of roads; 36 ultra-modern hospitals per state; 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.
In his words;
“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.”
“There is the erroneous impression out there that the war against corruption is a vendetta against the opposition, and that indeed it is one-sided. This is not true and indeed very nauseating. We need the media to lead the campaign against corruption.
“All we have heard from them are ludicrous reasons why they partook in sharing of the money. One said he collected N4.5 billion for spiritual purposes, another said he received N2.1 billion for publicity, while yet another said he got N13 billion to pay someone else for the Maritime University land.
“Based on these revelations, should we now fold our hands and allow these people to go away with public funds? Is anyone thinking about the innocent soldiers who lost their lives just because they did not get the necessary weapons to fight the terrorists?
“What about the families left behind by these soldiers who were sent to their early graves because of the misappropriation of these funds? What about those who lost their means of livelihood after the terrorists overran their towns and villages? What of the millions of Nigerians, especially women and children, who are now living in IDP camps?
“Is it not clear that the cruel fate that has befallen these unfortunate people is a direct result of the misuse of the funds meant to fight the terrorists? Are these not the true costs of corruption?
“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,” the minister concluded on that.