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Ex-UK Secretary’s comment against Buhari’s anti-corruption war ‘wicked and lacking in substance’ – Presidency



The Presidency has condemned the comment by former United Kingdom (UK) Secretary of State for International Development, Ms Priti Patel, attacking President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption.

It described Ms Patel’s comment as wicked proposition lacking in substance and devoid of merit in empirical evidence established by facts.

Patel had in a published statement, while using Transparency International (TI) report, called on investors to be wary about investing in Nigeria.

But, Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity Malam Garba Shehu said her claim that despite the President’s public anti-corruption platform, Nigeria has not seen any reduction in corruption, “is a false fabrication that cannot be supported by the facts on the ground”.

Garba, in a statement yesterday, said: “By the time President Buhari was sworn in and took office, the only amount in the anti-corruption recovery account over 16 years of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was only N2 billion.

“This account has succeeded in netting over N400 billion as of today, translating to 1,360 per cent increase. This cannot amount to nothing in terms of progress.

“When it comes to policy decisions, this government has put in place instruments that have extraordinarily and unprecedentedly reduced corruption and corrupt practices.”

The statement said the Treasury Single Account (TSA) has led to greater visibility and control of government funds by way of consolidating government’s resources in an account as against the past, where such accounts are scattered.

The statement added: “The Bank Verification Number (BVN) scheme has equally helped the government to prevent money laundering, financing terrorism and illicit cash transfers.

“This administration has introduced the IPPS, which implementation has led to an extraordinary reduction of ghost workers, saving the treasury billions of Naira every month. The Whistle Blower mechanism put in place has yielded enormously to the treasury and reduced corruption.

“In addition to several and urgent legislations targeted at the reduction of corruption, the administration has equally signed a number of highly rewarding Mutual Legal Assistance with a number of countries that have translated to tremendous recoveries.”

Garba added that the issue raised by Ms Patel about the lack of security of investment was equally false and untenable.

“Nigerian has recognised the right of the investor, both local and foreign, as enshrined in our constitution, which states clearly that no investment can be taken from its owners without recourse to the law. Given the constitution, you don’t even need international protection for assets held in this country.

“In addition to the constitution, there exist several laws allowing protection for investments.

“Beyond this, this administration has moved forward by recognising arbitration processes. The judiciary in the country has a Practice Code to give legitimacy to awards and arbitration clauses in agreements.

“Cumulatively, we have established a proper climate of investment on account of which, the nation has gained 24 points of excellence in the global ease of doing business index.

“As for the specific case of the agreement in 2010, between the NNPC and the P&ID for a 20-year contract to create a new natural gas development refinery, which appears to be her main issue, a project that fell through after a past Nigerian government reneged on its contractual commitments, we do not wish to plead the government’s case in the press.

“Suffice it to say that the government of Nigeria, in recognition of the sanctity of the judiciary, has submitted to the jurisdiction of a court in the United States to determine the issues in dispute.

“What we can only say at this point is that Nigerians need to pity their own country for the way things were done in the past,” the statement said.

It added that before the coming of the Buhari administration, there existed in the country a racket encompassing elements in the three arms of government – the executive, legislature and the judiciary – “through the activities of which artificial, engineered and factored breaches of contract are made, judgments are obtained, appeals are delayed and the penalty imposed is paid and shared”.

It added: “In the fullness of time, more will be said by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the federation.”

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