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UPDATED: Lai Mohammed blames past administrations for corruption in NDDC

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Ibrahim Ramalan
Ibrahim Ramalan is a graduate of Mass Communications from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria. With nearly a decade-long, active journalism practice, Mr Ramalan has been able to rise from a cub reporter to the exalted position of an editor; first as Arts Editor with the Blueprint Newspapers before resigning in 2019; second and presently as an Associate Editor of the Daily Nigerian online newspaper. He can be reached via [email protected], or www.facebook.com/ibrahim.ramalana, or @McRamalan on Twitter.
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The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has attributed the corruption allegations against the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to the previous administrations.

The minister, who stated this during a press conference on Tuesday in Abuja, described as ironic that those under whose watch the alleged freewheeling spending by the Commission started are now the ones accusing those who are cleaning up after them of corruption.

According to him, corrupt practices were not new in the commission, saying however that what is new is the speed and seriousness with which this administration has tackled, and is still tackling, the allegations.

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He said: “I am not prepared to go into the details of the various corruption allegations – whether at the NDDC, NSITF, EFCC or any other agency – because they are all still under investigation.

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“However, I wish to state that the allegations of corruption in NDDC, for example,
are not new. What is new is the speed and seriousness with which this Administration has tackled, and is still tackling, the allegations.

“Had such attention been paid to the running of the NDDC by previous Administrations, the Commission would probably have avoided its present predicament.

“Is it not a sad irony, then, that those under whose watch the alleged freewheeling spending by the Commission started are now the ones accusing those who are cleaning up after them of corruption?”

The minister also disclosed that the fight against corruption by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is as strong as ever, even as there is an ongoing corruption allegations in strategic government agencies like the EFCC, NDDC and NSITF.

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Mr Mohammed added that the administration has so far recorded over 1,400 convictions, including high profile ones, and recovered funds in excess of N800 billion, not to talk of forfeiture of ill-gotten properties.

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“As I said earlier, this Administration’s fight against corruption is as strong as ever, and we have the records to back up this claim. This Administration has recorded over 1,400 convictions, including high profile ones, and recovered funds in excess of 800 billion Naira, not to talk of forfeiture of ill-gotten properties. This is no mean feat,” said.

According to him, the fight against corruption is not about loot recovery or convictions alone, saying that the administration was also putting in place enduring institutional reforms that will deter acts of corruption.

“Here we are talking about the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the Whistleblower Policy, the expansion of the coverage of the Integrated Payroll Personnel and Information System as well as the Government
Integrated Management Information System and the Open Government Partnership and Transparency Portal on Financial Transactions, among others.

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“Let me also mention the ICPC’s Constituency and Executive Projects Tracking Group, aimed at tracking performance of publicly-funded projects, and the Commission’s escalation of the use of administrative sanctions in the public service by periodically submitting, for sanction, names of public servants who are being prosecuted. There is also the review of the personnel and capital fund expenditure of MDAs.

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“Therefore, those who are celebrating the so-called waning of the Administration’s anti-corruption fight are engaging in wishful thinking, and are not looking at the full ramifications of the fight,” Mr Mohammed said.

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