ILORIN – MINISTER for Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed Tuesday said that the present administration was not probing members of the opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP but was particularly interested in probing those who mismanaged the funds meant for prosecuting war against Boko Haram’s insurgency.
Alh Lai Mohammed said this during a media chat with reporters at his Oro residence in Irepodun Local Government Area (LGA) of Kwara state. According to the minister, the Federal government became deeply concerned because the alleged, embezzled huge sum put at about 2.1billion Dollars which allowed the insurgents to be in control of 14 out of 20 LGAs of some North Eastern states of Nigeria. He added that the sad development led to the incalculable loss of lives of many innocent Nigerians and degraded the nation’s armed forces. According to him, “those being prosecuted today are being prosecuted for what reason? The answer is obvious; it is about what happened to the funds allocated to fight ‘Boko-Haram’. As at that time, 14 out of 20LGAs were under the control of the insurgents.
We were all wondering what could be happening to our gallant military men who had excelled outside the country helping others but could not defend our territorial boundaries. In the process the ‘Pandora Box’ was opened. So it is only the budget voted for Defence that is being investigated. So it is not about going out to investigate members of the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP)” The minister also said that the recent anti corruption search beam on Patience Jonathan, the wife of the former President of Nigeria, was allegedly initiated by the former first lady herself when she claimed that the money that was found on one of her husband’s aides belong to her. Citing the case of Japan that had allegedly been under economic doldrums for the past 14 years without a drop in the standard of living of her citizens, Mohammed said the hardship had been ameliorated due to the nation’s conscious investment in infrastructure. While urging Nigerians to be patient with the Federal Government over the state of the nation’s economy the minister blamed successive Nigerian governments for allegedly ignoring the needs for massive investments in infrastructure and reserves. According to him, “we salute the courage and perseverance of Nigerians. We know what they are going through. It is not about trading blames it is about those who used this or that. We had for long the economy centred around one commodity. Our dependence on oil formed over 60 per cent of our Gross Domestic Products (GDP). When the oil price crashed, we have no reserves to cushion the effects. We did not invest in infrastructure. From records, a government spent N18billion on roads but spent N65billion on estacodes. “We have spent about N70billion on road this year. Between years 2012 and 2015 when oil was selling for 100 Dollars per barrel, they didn’t pay contractors. But now we brought back Julius Berger to site paying N30billion. Although people said we should stop talking about the past, we believe that proper accounts must be made. We are hampered by the Niger/Delta instability and we have in the process lost about 1billion Dollars. But despite all these, major states capitals will be linked with effective rail system very soon.” Mohammed, while urging for a changed attitudes among Nigerians over their penchant for foreign goods and services, said emphasis should henceforth be placed on local contents towards employment opportunities. He added, “The kind of leadership we have in Nigeria today is by example. No minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for instance can today fly in First Class even if he has the wherewithal to do so. He must fly in the economic class. So we must all sacrifice. Do you know that a pharmacist who sells fake drug is worse than a Permanent Secretary who embezzled? The said pharmacist can send you to your early graves.” He also said that the over dependence of Nigeria on oil over the decades was largely responsible for the present economic challenges that the country was presently going through. The Minister said the present efforts of the Federal government to diversify needs some time before it can pay off, and ends the present economic challenges and therefore pleaded for patient and understanding with the masses.
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