By Ali Smart…
Fifty-five privileged Nigerians looted N1.34 trillion from the nation’s treasury between 2006 and 2013, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said.
Mohammed, who made this disclosure in Abuja on Monday while briefing journalists, said the period of the looting span the last three administrations of former President Olusegun Obsanjo, late Umar Musa Yar’adua and Goodluck Jonathan.
Mohammed who fell short of accusing past administrations for condoling graft, said: “The situation is dire and the time to act is now. For example, between the period 2006 and 2013, just 55 people allegedly stole a total of 1.34 trillion Naira in Nigeria. That’s more than a quarter of last year’s national budget! Out of the stolen funds, 15 former Governors allegedly stole 146.84 billion naira; four former Ministers allegedly stole seven billion naira; 12 former Public Servants, both at federal and state levels, allegedly stole over 14 billion Naira; eight people in the Banking Industry allegedly stole 524 billion Naira; while 11 businessmen allegedly stole N653billion.”
While giving a graphic picture of the enormity of the sleaze, the Kwara-born politician said: “Now, what does these figures translate to in the actual sense. In other words, what is the cost of these stolen funds for Nigerians. Using World Bank Rates and Costs, one third of the stolen funds could have provided 635.18 kilometres of road; built 36 ultra modern hospitals, that is one ultra modern hospital per state; built 183 schools; educated 3,974 children from primary to tertiary level at 25.24 million per child; and built 20,062 units of 2-bedroom houses.”
The former spokesman of the All Progressives Congress while reacting to insinuations that the current anti-graft war was lopsided, said there was no truth in the matter.
“This is the money that a few people, just 55 in number, allegedly stole within a period of just eight years. And instead of a national outrage, all we hear are these nonsensical statements that the Government is fighting only the opposition, or that the government is engaging in vendetta.”
He also explained that ” irrespective of your political, religious or tribal leanings, and not minding whether you belong to the APC, PDP, SDP or Labour Party, if you have stolen public funds, you must not go scot-free. Everyone and every arm of government must rise up to be counted in this epic war, and defeat is not an option if our country is to survive.
Speaking further, he said: “Let’s take the latest issue of the 2.1 billion-dollar arms deal as an example. One thing is clear: Funds meant to fight terrorism were deployed to another fight, the fight to keep then President Goodluck Jonathan and his party, the PDP, in power at all cost.
So far, based on what we know, no one who has been accused of partaking in the sharing of the funds has denied receiving money. All we have heard from them are ludicrous reasons why they partook in sharing of the money. One said he collected N4.5 billion for spiritual purposes, another said he received N2.1 billion for publicity, while yet another said he got N13 billion to pay someone else for the Maritime University land.”
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