President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday, said he will take steps to reduce the cost of governance in the country.
He said this just as he promised that unlike what happened 34 years ago, all assets seized from corrupt officials would be sold to prevent them from being returned to their owner when there is any change of government as happened during his first tenure.
Buhari, who said he had taken care of that aspect in his anti-corruption campaign, told members of Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) that he would henceforth beam his searchlight on cost of governance and weed out possible corruption that exists anywhere.
Apparently referring to the regime of his successor, Ibrahim Babangida, who replaced him in a military coup, Buhari, bemoaned the situation where all the assets he had seized from corrupt Nigerians, were returned to the owners despite the fact that they were not able to explain their sources.
While appreciating the members of the committee for the “major sacrifice “they’ve made in accepting the assignment to serve the country,” he noted: “Some of the elite won’t trust you, and you will be alienated, no matter how close you are to them.
“In the past, assets were seized from officials who couldn’t explain how they got them, only for those assets to be returned to them when government was changed. Such will not recur. I have given instructions that all forfeited assets be sold, and the money put in the Treasury Single Account. Let’s see who will now take back the money from the treasury, and give back to those people, as was done in the past.”
Chairman of PACAC, Professor Itse Sagay, who led the delegation, said Nigeria was lucky more than ever to have a person of President Buhari’s credentials as leader of government.
“We congratulate you for being a star of the anti-corruption struggle in Africa. You attach a lot of importance to the fight against corruption, and we have tried to achieve the aims you had in mind when you established PACAC,” Prof Sagay added.
He said the committee trains, builds capacity of anti-corruption agencies, and has helped to develop a programme of non-conviction assets recovery, which is recording great successes.
PACAC made some recommendations to the President, in order to move the anti-corruption war many steps forward. They include, reestablishment of the jury system for criminal cases in the country; setting up of a judicial commission on corruption in the judiciary, to be headed by retired judges under the auspices of National Judicial Council (NJC); passage of Proceeds of Crime Act by the National Assembly; the setting up of a Presidential Truth and Restitution Task Force; and a closer look at the cost of governance to weed out all vestiges of corruption.
President Buhari pledged that government would take a dispassionate look into all the requests.