Tunde Odesola, Olusola Fabiyi and Olalekan Adetayo
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has lamented that some corrupt Nigerians are using their stolen funds to wage war against his administration.
He said the situation had made his administration’s ongoing anti-corruption war “tough and gruelling.”
According to a statement on Thursday by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, the President spoke on Thursday in a meeting he had with the United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, on the of conference on climate change, COP22, in Marrakech, Morocco.
Although he said corruption was fighting vigorously back, the President assured Kerry that the anti-graft war would be won.
Buhari said corrupt people had accumulated a formidable arsenal of illicit wealth, which they were deploying against the government on diverse fronts.
“But it is a war we are determined to win, and which we will win. People of goodwill are behind us, countries like America and many others are with us, and we will surely win,” he said.
The President also updated Kerry on the war against insurgency in the North-East of Nigeria and efforts being made to tackle humanitarian problems caused by the insurgency.
He informed him that a presidential committee had been launched “under Gen. T.Y. Danjuma, a man of high integrity.”
On the unrest in the Niger Delta area, which manifests in the sabotage of critical oil and power installations, the President said the engagement process was proceeding apace.
He however admitted that it was difficult to bring the main protagonists of the insurgency under one umbrella for dialogue.
The President said Nigeria was happy with American support on different fronts, assuring Kerry that the economic challenges facing the country were being “frontally tackled, and we will overcome them soon.”
Kerry reportedly expressed delight at the many successes of the Buhari administration, pledging continued US support in the bid to overcome security, humanitarian, political, and economic challenges.
As the Barrack Obama administration exits next January, Kerry said he would love to continue engaging with Nigeria, even in a private capacity.
He described Buhari as a strong international partner in the battle against violent extremism.
However, two members of the Board of Trustees, Peoples Democratic Party, Chiefs Ebenezer Babatope and Shuaib Oyedokun, have said that the Federal Government’s anti-corruption cannot succeed.
Speaking in separate telephone interviews on Thursday, Babatope and Oyedokun described Buhari’s anti-corruption war as selective and vindictive.
Oyedokun said, “If the President, who is fighting corruption, suddenly discovers that people who have stolen are using the proceeds of corruption to fight him, I think it is an admission of failure. Corruption cannot be fought with corruption.
“The President must be able to fish out those fighting him with corruption and ensure they are tried. There are allegations of corruption among those that surround the President and his party members.
“He (Buhari) won’t succeed because he is using corruption to fight corruption. When someone loses a horse and he unknowingly tells the person that stole the horse to help him find the horse, would the owner ever find the horse?”
Babatope, a former minister of transportation, accused Buhari of keeping silent on the allegations of corruption against members of his political party.
He said, “It behoves the President to point out those he says are using stolen wealth to fight him. It is not enough to just state that some people are using stolen wealth to fight him. He should mention names and make sure they are prosecuted.
“The anti-corruption war will not succeed because we’ve not defined what corruption is and who and who are guilty of corruption.
“Some people in Buhari’s government are corrupt and he has not tried them. His anti-corruption war is selective and vindictive. Let the President bring out the corrupt elements in his party and use the same yardstick he’s been using for other people on his party’s members.”
Also the PDP as a political party dismissed the claim by the President, saying majority of the people in the All Progressives Congress came from the former ruling party.
It said the President was using the war against corruption as vendetta against the opposition, adding that the President was not sincere about it.
Spokesperson for the former ruling party, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents, while reacting to the claim by the President.
He said the President was never serious about the war, which he said was aimed at members of the PDP alone.
He said rather than wage a holistic war, the President had refused to probe former members of the PDP who defected to the APC.
Adeyeye said, “The President isn’t saying the truth about the so-called war against corruption and he knows.
“That’s why he has been opening the door for those undergoing corruption trials to cross over to the APC and as soon as that is done, they become saints.
“Majority of the members of the APC today are from the PDP. So, what has he done to those people? They have become saints because they dumped the PDP?
“The President must come out openly to tell Nigerians why those people are no longer under the radar of the anti-corruption agencies just because they have joined the APC.”
He also said that the President was using the anti-corruption agencies to hunt members of the APC who have different views apart from his (Buhari’s) in the APC.
“He’s setting the agencies against his perceived enemies even in his party, the APC,” he added.
Adeyeye called on the President to be sincere, but added that it might be difficult to do so since the President himself “is fighting a pre-determined war.”