MINISTER of Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said that Federal Government should not be castigated for its anti corruption crusades against perceived members of the opposition group.
Speaking with journalists in his Oro country home during Sallah celebration, Alhaji Mohammed said ongoing probe involved those linked with alleged diverted funds meant for prosecuting war against insurgents.
The minister said that the alleged embezzled huge sum, put at about $2.1billion, did not only allow the insurgents to be in control of 14 out of 20 council areas of some North Eastern states of Nigeria, but led to the incalculable loss of lives of many innocent Nigerians and degraded the nation’s armed forces.
“Those being prosecuted today are being prosecuted for what reason? The answer is obvious. It is about what happened to the funds allocated to fight Boko-Haram. As at that time, 14 out of 20 LGAs were under the control of the insurgents.
“We were all wondering what could be happening to our gallant military men who had excelled outside the country helping others but could not defend our territorial boundaries. In the process, the ‘Pandora Box’ was opened. So, it is only the budget voted for defence that is being investigated. It is not about going out to investigate members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Citing the case of Japan that had allegedly been under economic doldrums for the past 14 years without a drop in the standard of living of her citizens, Mohammed said the hardship had been ameliorated due to the nation’s conscious investment in infrastructure.
While urging Nigerians to be patient with the Federal Government over the state of the nation’s economy, the minister blamed successive governments for allegedly ignoring the needs for massive investments in infrastructure and reserves.
“We salute the courage and perseverance of Nigerians. We know what they are going through. It is not about trading blames, it is about those who used this or that. We had for long the economy centred around one commodity. Our dependence on oil formed over 60 per cent of our Gross Domestic Products (GDP). When the oil price crashed, we have no reserves to cushion the effects. We did not invest in infrastructure. From records, a government spent N18billion on roads but spent N65billion on estacodes.
“We have spent about N70billion on road this year. Between years 2012 and 2015 when oil was selling for $100 per barrel, they didn’t pay contractors. But now we brought back Julius Berger, N30billion. Although people said we should stop talking about the past, we believe that proper accounts must be made. We are hampered by the Niger/Delta instability and we have in the process lost about one billion dollars. But despite all these, major state capitals will be linked with effective rail system very soon.”
Alhaji Mohammed, while urging for a changed attitude among Nigerians over their penchant for foreign goods and services, said emphasis should henceforth be placed on local contents towards employment opportunities.