Acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, has blamed mass poverty and insecurity in Nigeria on corruption.
Magu spoke at the induction program organised by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum Secretariat for the returning and newly-elected governors in Abuja on the theme “Imperative of Fighting Corruption/Terrorism Financing in Nigeria”.
The EFCC boss said Nigeria’s anti-government forces were leveraging on mass poverty to work against the country.
He said, “Mass poverty in the region due in part to corruption by the ruling elite is largely to blame for the ease with which the Islamists are able to recruit fighters to sustain their aggression against the Nigerian state.”
Magu’s assertion was not off the reality of Nigeria. Nigeria ranks 144th out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. Also, in December 2018, World Poverty Clock named Nigeria as the poverty capital of the world after it overtook India.
In February 2019, over 90 million of about 190 million Nigerians were reported to be living desperately poor.
But President Muhammadu Buhari government had in December 2018 rejected the report, insisting that his government had created jobs especially in the area of agriculture and reduced poverty.
Magu, however, stated that the country would be unsafe if public office holders continue to mismanage public funds and make the people live in poverty.
“Whether we like it or not, corruption and terrorism have become the twin evils, undermining our collective efforts to make Nigeria a truly great country,” Magu said.
While citing instances of insecurity being used as a channel for corruption, he said, “insecurity has also offered the required oxygen for corruption to thrive as evident in the $2.1bn arms procurement scandal involving top military commanders both serving and retired.”
He stated that Nigeria’s failure to take full advantage of its natural resources could also be attributed to corruption as public office holders are in the habit of constantly syphoning public resources.
Magu also attributed activities of militants in the Niger Delta and insurgency in the Northeast to acts of corruption.
“As an investigator, I am shocked by the quantum of resources stolen from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by those who run the intervention agency. It is so bad that even a mere personal assistant to a former Managing Director was charged for stealing over N3 billion,” the EFCC Chairman said.
Magu lamented that Nigeria has lost trillions of Naira to corruption by public office holders and urged the governors to desist from the trend.