By Danladi Al-Hassan
Professor Itse Sagay, the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), has stated that the Federal Government has recovered billions from corrupt Nigerians in the past four and half years.
Sagay said the committee had recorded unprecedented progress in the fight against corruption across the country.
He said the proceeds of the anti-corruption fight are already being ploughed into the country’s treasury, where it is use to make life better for citizens.
“The more remarkable aspect of it is that this recovered loot is being ploughed into the national budget every year and used for the Social Investment Programme.
“So when you hear about feeding of over 12 million school children; as when I checked last, having nutritious meal every day, you hear of poor families being supported to survive and stand on their feet or over 500,000 young people who are being trained in all sorts of skills and paid N30,000 a month by government and the interest free loans given to small scale businesses all over the country.
“It’s all part of the money, not a kobo of it is left, everything is ploughed back and I think the country should know that, it’s very unprecedented, this never happened before in the history of the country, everything is ploughed back.
“Then we have succeeded in improving the quality of prosecution by giving the anti corruption agencies lots of capacity building, train them in the manner cases should be prosecuted and how charges should be drawn.
Sagay said judges up to the Supreme Court had also benefited from the anti-corruption training programme.
He also noted that the federal government had succeeded in blocking leakages and corrupt practices in the nation’s oil sector.
“In the area of corruption, you will be surprised if you think back that nobody talks about fuel subsidy corruption anymore. Previously we were losing almost N400 billion every year on fake fuel subsidy payments but now, it is zero.
“So generally, the tone of the country has improved. The country has gained tremendously, corruption has gone down,” he said.
Sagay warned those nursing the idea of engaging in corrupt practices to have a re-think as modalities have been put in place to detect and prosecute them.
“There is still corruption but it has gone down and anybody who indulges particularly an officer of a state who engages in it knows the risk he is taking.
“We have the TSA, we have the bank verification number, all those things have made incredible change in our level of anti-corruption.
“Now you cannot hide money in the banks anymore and agencies cannot hide money in various banks accounts which they spend without the knowledge of the government.
“Everything is in one place, everything is transparent, thanks to this government,” he said.
Sagay stated that PACAC do not have any serious challenge in its work.
“There are always challenges but we don’t have any serious ones at all. We are doing our work, there is a large variety of work that we do in various areas both remote and immediate to support the anti-corruption struggle.
“We are doing pretty well. Previously, we were afraid that when the initial donor agency funds will be exhausted which we exhausted last year, we will be in trouble.
“But I must say the government and various other bodies in this country which I will not want to mention have come to support PACAC with funds.
“So we are able to carry on our activities at the same speed as before, regardless of the fact that the foreign donors are no longer funding us apart from Mac-Author that still funds our programmes from time to time.
“I am happy to say that the capacity of corruption to fight back has been reduced with the expiration of the life of the 8th National Assembly.
”That is where the main opposition to this government was constituted, main opposition to the fight against corruption, that was the centre.
“At that time, it did not depend on which party they belonged to, they all ganged up together against the fight against corruption and did everything they could to frustrate the government and ourselves in the this fight,” he said.
Sagay said the 9th Assembly is totally different, saying the assembly is determined to work hand in hand with government and PACAC.