The pioneer Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, has stated that people in government and the high in the society have captured the state, using it to undermine government policies and serve their selfish interest.
He stated this in Abuja at the fifth anniversary of Connected Development (CODE), an organisation that was started in 2012 to track government spending on capital projects around education, health and environment.
The organisation has 1,289 members and it has impacted about 158,000 people in different communities in Nigeria, according to the promoters of the group.
“Nigerians must take a stand between those who are working diligently to get back our stolen money and those who are poised to scuttle such efforts.
“We are witnessing essentially a classical case of state capture in which individuals, including those in high public office, use their position to undermine the state and its policies because of their personal interest,” Ribadu said.
He also stated that those who are supposed to help the anti-corruption fight are colluding with those who have stolen the common wealth of the nation to frustrate the efforts of those who are genuinely committed to reversing the ugly trend.
Ribadu added: “Unfortunately, some people who are supposed to be part of efforts at restitution are colluding with those who have stolen our commonwealth to frustrate the work of those who are genuinely committed in reversing the ugly trend.
“And as this unholy alliance of corrupt people in and out of government takes root, it is us, the ordinary Nigerians, that are the victims.”
The former EFCC boss said he followed the good work of the organisation and its grassroots tracking of development projects, budget tracking and ensuring that gaps between policies and what is on the ground are very well underlined, saying he admires the group’s resolve, courage and commitment to positive change.
He stated that the service citizens can render to the Nigerian society is the grassroots mobilisation for social accountability, adding that such will make democracy evolve for citizens to get the benefits of good governance.
“Citizens must not sit behind but take the lead; set an agenda for the government and also monitor its implementation,” Ribadu further advised the citizens
“This grassroots mobilisation for social accountability, which CODE and a few other groups in the country are engaged in is probably the best thing citizens can do for their country. For democracy to evolve, for citizens to yield the full benefit of good governance, citizens involvement at the grassroots is essential.
“In modern governance, citizens are not meant to take the back seat. Indeed, citizens must take the lead, set the agenda and monitor implementation of government programmes, if they are to witness the kind society they aspire to.
“And it is within this context that one can properly appreciate what CODE is doing, the act of mobilising Nigerians at the lowest level of society to understand their role, the power they have as citizens and how they can use those inherent tools for the advancement of their respective communities,” Ribadu noted.
He argued that social accountability is a bottom up thing, which must be driven by the people to guarantee transparency and accountability in the society, saying this will go a long way in tasking those in positions of responsibility to get value for their money.
According to Ribadu, “Mobilisation for social accountability is a bottom-up approach to development that can guarantee transparency and accountability in the society by ensuring that those who are in positions of responsibility are put to task and people get value for money.
“We should all get involved as citizens. This is the least we can do as responsible citizens, and with the availability of modern technology tools, such advocacies have been simplified and could make far-reaching impact in terms of policy and decision-making.
“Beyond this, we as Nigerians must also stand to be counted on the intractable issue which poses a bigger challenge-the corruption malaise. Importantly, at a time like this, when a clear line is remerging, demarcating agents of progress and those bent on stopping them, as citizens, we have a duty not to be on the fence but make a clear choice between these contending forces.’
Nuhu stated that the present government is not doing badly and that those involved in corruption do not feel the bitting impacts of corruption.
He said if they do, they would not be putting up the kind of resistance we are currently witnessing.
“There is no doubt that the current anticorruption regime in the country is working. We have seen the feat attained in recent past and the ongoing effort to stall it,” he stated.
“However, those who have been a stumbling block to the war against corruption clearly do not understand or feel the biting impact of corruption. If they do, they would not put up the kind of resistance we are currently witnessing in the efforts to make a success of the anti-corruption war.”
The former EFCC boss said: “Yes, you may not like someone’s face or even disagree with his strategy but that should never be a reason for you to reject fundamental truths and the good things that such a person is doing. It is also no excuse for you to personalise your duty or responsibility or undermine efforts that are beneficial to us as a country.”
“I have chosen to take a stand on this because I have passed through this myself and I see similar signs of those dark moments of 2007 hovering all over us. It is always a dangerous cocktail when some corrupt elements in power decide to side with private interests outside government, using the rule of law as a ruse, to muscle sincere efforts to tackle corruption.”
Nuhu said Nigeria is still paying for the mistakes of 2007 and years after, advising the citizens not allow history to repeat itself.
He believes this administration is doing a wonderful and patriotic duty by putting the fight against corruption on the front burner, saying corruption is a serious ailment afflicting this nation and by facing it headlong, the Buhari administration is doing the nation a whole lot of service.
He advised the young ones to take interest in what happens to the country and not to pay the price of mistakes or costly actions of the generation before them.
He further advised: “As young people, this is your country. You have higher stakes than anyone else. You should take interest in what happens to the country to ensure that you don’t pay the price for the mistakes or costly actions of the generation before you.
“You are already doing a fascinating work at this level and I encourage you to carry on assiduously. Nigeria needs you, Nigeria would appreciate you if not now but in years to come.
Any work like this, any demand for accountability, honesty and integrity is usually a tough assignment and that is why people like you and those individuals spearheading our anti-corruption efforts need all the support and encouragement. Keep the flag flying.”