By Ismaila Chafe
A presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, said that President Muhammadu Buhari administration will fight corruption to a standstill in spite of strong resistance by some individuals and groups to thwart the efforts.
Shehu, who is the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, made this known in a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday.
He stressed that the war against perfidy and corruption by the Buhari administration would not stop despite the opposition against it in some quarters.
The Presidential aide, who featured on a radio programme tagged, `Hannu Da Yawa’ at the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Kaduna zonal station, on Saturday, maintained that the President declared rooting out corruption as one of the cardinal policies of his election campaign.
“Let me say one thing. Those whose illicit ways of accumulating money have been stopped will criticize this government but all that will not derail the unfaltering commitment of the President, Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to the war against corruption.
“He is aware that this was one of the main reasons why Nigerians in their millions put their trust in him; the main reason they voted him into power in 2015.
“To keep that trust of ordinary Nigerians who voted him into the office, he has vowed to give corruption a good fight. He will not let them down,’’ he said.
Shehu admitted that so far, the battle to uproot corruption from Nigeria has not been easy.
According to him, corruption has been fighting back vehemently, finding accomplices in various forms and guises but reassured that the Buhari administration will not relent.
“Nothing will return our country to those sad, old days of wanton thievery that have plunged us into the economic mess from which Nigeria is currently recovering.
“The war against corruption in Nigeria is one of those clashes between good and evil, where good is determined to triumph.’’
He dismissed the insinuation that some members of the governing party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) were being spared in the ongoing campaign against corruption, saying “all are equal before the law’’.
Shehu disclosed that upon directives by the President, the National Hajj Commission had carried out an audit of accommodation agents in both Makkah and Madina in Saudi Arabia, as parts of measures to promote transparency.
He revealed that a saving of more than 16.7 million dollars was realized from the exercise.
“Each Hajj pilgrim is being saved between 600 to 1,000 Saudi Riyals, which is about N60,000 – N100,000 from accommodation, money that had lined the pockets of agents in the past.
“This year, houses are being rented directly from owners.’’
Shehu also lauded those fearless ordinary citizens for embracing the whistleblower policy by “taking extraordinary risks’’ to expose corruption in the society.
On the ongoing relocation of international flight services to Kaduna Airport, the Presidential aide challenged the government and people of Kaduna state to devise ways by which the social and economic benefits brought to the state did not depart the city after the rehabilitation of the Abuja airport.
“The government of Nigeria has done a big thing for Kaduna. You must show appreciation to this by supporting the administration,’’ he said.
While referring to the “massive cash releases for capital projects in excess of a record of one trillion Naira under the 2016 budget’’, Shehu reiterated the determination of the Buhari administration to complete some developmental projects.
He said this is meant to uplift the quality of life of all Nigerians irrespective of their geo-political backgrounds.
He acknowledged the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola with the record of being the first ever Minister to ride on all the federal roads across the nation.
“In addition to the roads, three of the major projects very dear to the President which he is determined to execute are the Mambila power project, the Lagos-Kano, Lagos-Calabar and Port Harcourt-Maiduguri railway modernization projects and the new Presidential Initiative on Fertilizer.’’
The presidential aide noted that already the fertiliser initiative has cut the price of fertiliser by about 50 per cent.