President Muhammadu Buhari has said that he is not going to demand an apology from David Cameron over his comments on Nigeria being a “fantastically corrupt” country which He made in London at the Commonwealth event themed “Tackling Corruption Together: A Conference for Civil Society, Business, and Government Leaders”.
This is coming after the Presidency had described Cameron’s statement as “embarrassing”, and that things are changing with regard to corruption and everything else in the country.
According to a tweet by Buhari’s Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Femi Adesina, the President said:
I’m not going to demand any apology. All I’ll demand is return of assets. What would I do with apology? I need something tangible.
Here are highlights of the President’s speech:
- Corruption is a hydra-headed monster and a cankerworm that undermines the fabric of all societies. It does not differentiate between developed and developing countries. It constitutes a serious threat to good governance, rule of law, peace and security, as well as development programmes aimed at tackling poverty and economic backwardness.
- On assumption of office on 29th May 2015, we identified as our main focus three key priority programmes. They are, combating insecurity, tackling corruption and job creation through re-structuring the declining national economy.
- Our starting point as an Administration was to amply demonstrate zero tolerance for corrupt practices as this vice is largely responsible for the social and economic problems our country faces today.
- Tackling the menace of corruption is not an easy task, but it is possible even if many feathers have to be ruffled.
- Today, our frontline anti-corruption agencies, namely, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC), the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), have become revitalised and more proactive in the pursuit of perpetrators of corrupt practices, irrespective of their social status and political persuasion.
- We have implemented the Treasury Single Account (TSA) whereby all Federal government revenue goes into one account. This measure would make it impossible for public officers to divert public funds to private accounts as was the practice before.
- We are also reviewing our anti-corruption laws and have developed a national anti-corruption strategy document that will guide our policies in the next three years, and possibly beyond.
- I am not unaware of the challenges of fighting corruption in a manner consistent with respect for human rights and the rule of law. I am committed to applying the rule of law and to respecting human rights. I also require our security agencies to do the same.
- I admit that there are a few cases where apparently stringent rules have been applied as a result of threats to national security and the likelihood that certain persons may escape from the country or seek to undermine the stability of Nigeria. It is for this reason that we are seeking the support of many countries for the prosecution of certain individuals residing in their jurisdictions.
- Unfortunately, our experience has been that repatriation of corrupt proceeds is very tedious, time consuming, costly and entails more than just the signing of bilateral or multilateral agreements.
- In addition to the looting of public funds, Nigeria is also confronted with illegal activities in the oil sector, the mainstay of our export economy.
- The menace of oil theft, put at over 150,000 barrels per day, is a criminal enterprise involving internal and external perpetrators. Illicit oil cargoes and their proceeds move across international borders.
- We, therefore, call on the international community to designate oil theft as an international crime similar to the trade in “blood diamonds”, as it constitutes an imminent and credible threat to the economy and stability of oil-producing countries like Nigeria.
- By the end of our summit tomorrow, we should be able to agree on a rules-based architecture to combat corruption in all its forms and manifestations.
- A main component of this anti-corruption partnership is that governments must demonstrate unquestionable political will and commitment to the fight. The private sector must come clean and be transparent, and civil society, while keeping a watch on all stakeholders, must act and report with a sense of responsibility and objectivity.
- For our part, Nigeria is committed to signing the Open Government Partnership initiatives alongside Prime Minister Cameron during the Summit tomorrow.
You can read the full speech HERE