(NAN) President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday urged Nigerians not to reward corruption by acknowledging “people who have what they are not supposed to have“.
Jonathan stated this in Abuja at the 54th Annual Conference of the Nigerian Economic Society (NES) with the theme: “Institutions, Institutional Reforms and Economic Development: Analytical and Policy Perspectives“.
The President said that the fight against corruption should be a collective effort and not a task that should be left to the government alone.
I want a society where all of us will frown against people who come up with what they are not supposed to have.
“A young man who just starts work and you know his salary, within six months or a year comes up with a car of seven to N15 million and you clap for him.
Then, you are the one rewarding corruption.
“To bring corruption down in Nigeria is not just blaming government or police but all individuals must frown at people who have what they are not supposed to have, who live in houses they are not supposed to live and who drive cars that they are not supposed to drive.“
Jonathan said that government had introduced computerised system to manage government finances and that efforts were being made to strengthen the judiciary and other institutions to fight corruption in the country.
He said that development could only be achieved and sustained with a strong financial institutional framework in place.
He said that it was in line with it that government was making effort to ensure that Transformation Agenda and institutional reforms were implemented.
The President said that over the years, government had also tried to ensure that institutions changed the way they did things by exploring new ideas.
“Take the example of public financial management, how we implement our budgets, pay salaries and how we manage government accounts.
“For many years the process had been done manually with government officials carrying documents and files from one office to another.
“This manual process created the opportunities for various corrupt leakages and also introduced many ghost workers and ghost pensioners to the pay roll,’’ he said
According to the President, government will focus on the power and agriculture sectors to build strong institutions to encourage the kind of efficiency that would foster economic growth.
He added that government would ensure that investors made the power sector to work in order to meet the demands of Nigerians for steady power supply.
Earlier in a keynote address, Prof. John Ohiorhenuan of Columbia University said that corruption remained a major challenge to economic growth and development in Nigeria.
Ohiorhenuan said that 66 per cent of Nigerians under the age of 25 had no direct knowledge that corruption was not a mode of operation in the country.
He, therefore, urged the government to ensure that it built strong institutions that would be instrumental to fighting corrupt practices.
He also said that effort should be made to build the integrity of the judiciary.
The don advised the government to strengthen national patrimonies such as the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, the Federal Inland Revenue Service, and the NNPC so that they would not be used as conduits for the diversion of government money.
He advised government to educate state officials on the implication of corrupt practices, saying such officials needed to be punished if found culpable
He called on the media and non-governmental organisations to help in reporting and monitoring government activities as such would go a long way to check corruption in the country.