The Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, has charged youths in Nigeria, to take ownership of the fight against corruption and to see themselves as anti-corruption crusaders, and as the future of the anti-corruption fight in the country.
Magu, while leading Nigerian youths, members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Nigerian Women, and other stakeholders on a 10-million man Walk against Corruption, in Abuja, which was replicated across the 36 states of the Federation on Friday reiterated the critical role of the youth in the success of Nigeria.
“This is the way to go to catch them young and there is no going back on the war against corruption, because the environment is right, and it is now or never,” Magu said, noting that the choice of the 14th of February, being “Valentine’s Day” for lovers, was strategically chosen in order to target the youths.
Stressing the important role of the youth, Magu noted that the Commission believes that the NYSC was a veritable platform to rally the Nigerian youth against corruption.
“We are very sure that victory against corruption is certain and sure, with the support of President Muhammadu Buhari, who is celebrated as the African Union Anti-Corruption Champion, and it is essential for all of us to seize this opportunity to contribute our quota to the fight against corruption,” he said.
He noted that the fight against corruption should not be left to the EFCC alone, stressing that it was essential to “sensitize the youths against corruption, illicit financial flows, illegal oil bunkering, all of which contribute to economic sabotage.
Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, who joined in the Walk against Corruption in Abuja, said that it was going to be an annual event because “the mind of the youth is a fertile ground and a potential force, to raise an army against corruption in the society”.
The Nigerian Youth Walk against Corruption, which is novel in its implementation, according to Dare, “won’t end with the walk, but will continue after, with anti-corruption programs to run through the year at the various places of primary assignments of the youth corps members”.
Speaking at the Abuja event, Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, who joined in the Walk against Corruption, noted that women and children were the major victims of corruption.
Expressing full support for the EFCC’s efforts against corruption, Tallen, said, “Women will no longer sit down and fold their hands while corruption is perpetrated in the society and so we will continue to identify with the fight against corruption spearheaded by the EFCC”.
On his part, President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, commended the EFCC for the initiative, stressing that the Labour Congress will remain an ally of the EFCC, as the anti-corruption agency, “is on the right path in the sensitizing the youths against corruption and will not hesitate any day any time to identify with the course of the EFCC”. He further urged Nigerians to buy into the EFCC’s anti-corruption fight, adding that “Magu has done very well and we pray for his good health”.
Leading the Walk against Corruption in Lagos, Secretary to the Commission, Ola Olukoyede, said the Commission would ensure that those who had plundered the resources of the nation would be prosecuted and jailed through the instrumentality of the law.
While urging Nigerian youths to continue to lend their voices against corruption, saying they must see themselves as change agents, he also emphasized on the political will which President Buhari has brought to the corruption fight.
He said: “President Muhammadu Buhari has the will to fight corruption; so, I enjoin you to stand up and say no to corruption.
“Let us take the future of the country in our hands. The youth have to wake up because the future belongs to you. It is sad that a lot of our leaders don’t understand the damaging effects of corruption on our nation and future.”
Commending the youth corps members for turning out in large numbers, and for the support of critical stakeholders, he urged the youths not to fashion their lives after the corrupt, but to be diligent and embrace hard work.
Ekundayo Olugbenga, Chairman, Trade Union Congress, TUC, who also joined other participants including EFCC staff, charged the youths that: “The future of this country belongs to you.”
Some of the inscriptions on the placards carried by participants read: “Walking Against the Evil Called Corruption”; “Corruption Is Enemy Within, Kill It”; “End Corruption Now”; “Kill Corruption before it Kills Nigeria” and “Kill Corruption Now.”
The Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly, Yakubu Danladi-Salihu, who joined in the Walk in Ilorin, the state capital, urged the corps member and the Nigeria youths in general, to support fight against corruption, especially internet fraud, which he said is common among youths.
Head, EFCC Zonal Office, Isiyaku Sharu, used the opportunity to reveal that the Commission has helped the state recover stolen funds.
He said: “It is on record that we handed over N111 million to the Governor, and presently, we have about N200 million for the state government, ready for collection.
“We are also on top of the case of light up Kwara, where over N3 billion was allegedly diverted and part of the diverted fund was to buy a property in Guzape, Abuja.”
Governor of Borno State, Prof. Babagan Zulum, who was represented at the Walk against Corruption in by the state’s Commission for Youth and Sport, Sa’inna Buba, also charged the youths to shun corruption in all forms and shades.
“The fight against corruption should start from the Youth, not from top to bottom and the Media should endeavour to continue in supporting the EFCC in its reportage and exposing of corrupts individuals,” he said.
In his remark, Head, EFCC Maiduguri Zonal Office, Lawrence Iwodi, also hinted that the Commission was doing its part to curb corruption in the region.
In Sokoto, the state governor, Aminu Waziri, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Buhari Magori, urged participants to join hands with the anti-corruption agency in the fight against corruption.
In Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, the EFCC rallied youths in the state, led by the acting Head, EFCC Ibadan Zonal Office, Bright Igeleke, who urged the youths “to always stand for what is right to ensure better days for the country.”
Themed “Nigerian Youths Walk Against Corruption”, the exercise had as participants thousands of corps members and officials of the state NYSC led by the State Coordinator, Mrs. Eniola Ambekemo; State Commander of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Mrs. Josephine Ruth Obi; State Director of National Orientation Agency, NOA, Mrs. Dolapo Dosumu; Labour leaders members of the Civil Society Organisation; Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, Nigeria Police Force, State Security Service, among many other stakeholders.
In Makurdi, the Benue State capital, the Head of the EFCC Office in the state, Johnson Babalola, urged all Nigerians especially the Youths to join hands with the EFCC to fight against corruption. He stated that the Anti-Corruption crusade is everyone’s business.
The National Youths Service Corps State Coordinator in Benue, Joshua Simon Shicha, stated that all Nigerians must fight against corruption. He expressed his delight in the NYSC partnership with the EFCC in the fight against Corruption and thanked Magu for planning a programe of this magnitude. He expressed his appreciation to his team members that made the occasion possible. He urged all corps members to take fight serious and ensure the menace is wiped out of Nigeria.
In Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, the Head of the EFCC Port Harcourt Office, Usman Imam, charged the youths to join in the fight against corruption.
“The youth must shun criminality and strive to wrestle the country from the grips of the corrupt,” he said.
In the Edo State capital, Head of the EFCC Zonal Office, Muhtar Bello, noted that the road walk was “to sensitize and mobilize the youth across the country to reject the evil of corrupt practices, and to become youth advocates and take ownership of the fight against corruption in the country.”
Garba Dugum, Uyo Zonal Head of the Commission urged youths to desist from all forms of criminality and corrupt practices, while reminding them that they are the leaders of tomorrow “As we all know that tomorrow belongs to the youths of today, we must ensure that we begin to build that tomorrow today so we can actually have a tomorrow that we can be proud of” said Dugum. He cautioned youths and urged them to have a change of heart with emphasis on the conviction record in the zone which according to him has youths as a greater percentage of the demography that constitute that conviction record in 2019 alone.
In Sokoto state, Zonal Head of the Commission, Abdullahi Lawal, disclosed that the event was scheduled to coincide with Valentine’s Day in order to redirect the youths preoccupation with the day, he said the event is aimed at galvanizing a formidable force that will bring the corruption scourge to it’s knees.
It was a day like no other, as residents of the three states under the EFCC Kano Zone watched enlivened youths march through the streets of Kano, Katsina and Jigawa (Dutse) cities all with one voice condemning and demanding an end to corruption.
In Kano Zonal Office, the Road Walk was a huge success as thousands of people including youth, women, students, civil society leaders, labour and faith based clerics thronged the streets with banners, placards, NYSC Musical Band, Open Van Music and jesters, all campaigning against corruption, economic and financial crimes.
The Kano rally which terminated at the Race Course field was led by the Director General of NYSC Brigadier–General Ibrahim Shuaibu and the Zonal Head EFCC Kano, Akaninyene Ezima.