Corruption will continue to thrive in the country when accountability is ignored, President Muhammadu Buhari has said.
The president was speaking on Tuesday in Abuja at the 49th annual conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).
Before declaring the conference open, the president said because of the damaging effects of corruption on the country’s economy, his administration was doing everything possible to curb the malaise.
Represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, President Buhari said corruption and impunity grow when accountability is disregarded.
He also said “people get away with all manner of questionable things when accountants are unable to check them”.
Urging accountants to always see corruption as a gross violation of human right, he described his administration’s fight against graft as a “struggle for nation building for the future generation.”
“For the majority of our people, the millions that are in hardship, the sick, the helpless, corruption is the major reason why they cannot go to school, why we have few equipments and doctors in our hospitals,” he said.
“Corruption diverts public resources, thereby causing much suffering, deprivation and unnecessary deaths in the country.”
He said if his government does not slay corruption with the passion it deserves, the people will not get the result they need.
The president said government will continue to provide the desired leadership to the fight with the optimism that the glorious days will soon come.
“Corruption, our greatest enemy will certainly fight back. But, we must continue to fight to effect a change to our value system,” he said.
He expressed confidence that the initiative of ICAN would greatly assist government at all levels to be more transparent and accountable to the people.
Meanwhile, a former Director of the Kenyan anti-corruption agency, Patrick Lumumba, said “it appears corruption is thriving, because Nigerians are not yet tired of it.”
Mr Lumumba, who was the guest speaker at the occasion, said “the day Nigerians become tired of corrupt practices, the actions that would follow would put an end to graft in the country.”
He lamented that in a society where people celebrate those that fraudulently enrich themselves, corruption will continue to thrive.
“Corruption is a crime against humanity. Experiences have demonstrated that if a people in a country are sufficiently fed up, they will rise up.
“If we think the international community will solve our problems, then we have shown that we are incapable of solving them,” he said.
“The day Nigerians and many Africans are fed up with corruption, things will begin to change. But as long as we celebrate thieves and money, no matter how they are got, everybody don’t care about how it is got. The day we begin to get angry, the country will change within a month,” Mr Lumumba said.
Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, denied allegations that the anti-graft agency “usually sweeps corruption cases involving members of ruling party under the carpet”.
He said the biggest conviction the agency secured under his leadership were those involving two former governors: Jolly Nyame of Taraba and Joshua Dariye of Plateau.
“We are (were) created to fight corruption. The biggest conviction we have is of two governors that have been convicted. You know their political affiliations and we don’t stop cases,” he said.
He called on ICAN to continue to support the fight against corruption adding that this would help stimulate economic development.