We’ll look into cost of governance, Buhari assures

President Muhammadu Buhari says he will beam a searchlight on cost of governance, and weed out possible corruption that exists anywhere.

The President stated this when he granted audience to members of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Thursday.

He appreciated the members of the committee for the “major sacrifice “they’ve made in accepting the assignment to serve the country.”

He said: “Some of the elite won’t trust you, and you will be alienated, no matter how close you are to them.’’

Buhari recalled experience of the past, in which assets were seized from officials, who could not explain how they got them, “only for those assets to be returned to them when government was changed,”

He, therefore, vowed that such would not recur, as he had given instructions that all forfeited assets be sold, “and the money put in the Treasury Single Account.”

“Let’s see who will now take back the money from the treasury, and give back to those people, as was done in the past,” the President added.

Chairman of PACAC, Prof. Itse Sagay, who led the delegation, said Nigeria was lucky more than ever to have a person of President Buhari’s credentials as leader of government.

“We congratulate you for being a star of the anti-corruption struggle in Africa.

“You attach a lot of importance to the fight against corruption, and we have tried to achieve the aims you had in mind when you established PACAC,” Prof Sagay added.

According to him, the committee trains, builds capacity of anti-corruption agencies, and has helped to develop a programme of non-conviction assets recovery, which is recording great successes.

Mr Femi Adesina, the President’s spokesman in a statement, said PACAC made some recommendations to the President, in order to move the anti-corruption war many steps forward.

The recommendations include reestablishment of the jury system for criminal cases in the country and setting up of a judicial commission on corruption in the judiciary, to be headed by retired judges under the auspices of National Judicial Council (NJC).

Others are: passage of Proceeds of Crime Act by the National Assembly; the setting up of a Presidential Truth and Restitution Task Force; and a closer look at the cost of governance to weed out all vestiges of corruption.

The President pledged that government would take a dispassionate look into all the requests.

Prof. Sagay, who fielded questions from State House correspondents, disclosed that about N1billion was recovered internally from corrupt Nigerians since the establishment of the committee in 2015.

He, however, stated that the recovered amount had been expended on the Federal Government’s Social Investment Programme between 2017 and 2018.

“But I can say roughly internally is almost about one trillion; internally about one trillion. But you see that in 2017 N500billion was spent on this social investment programme and in 2018 the same amount (N500billion) was spent on it.

“So, it must be roughly about one trillion – although we also have monies that were recovered from abroad,’’ he said.

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