Rattled by the directive handed down by President Muhammadu Buhari that they should return all government property in their possession, government officials who served under former president Goodluck Jonathan have started returning some of the assets they took away as they left office.
By Monday, some former top government officials were secretly returning government property, such as vehicles, generator sets and furniture to the ministries, agencies and even some departments in Aso Rock where they were taken from.
Those whose families are still occupying government buildings are said to have started asking them to quickly vacate the place on the pretext that they were staying there without their knowledge, after they had left for their respective states or travelled abroad.
A top Presidency official told our correspondent that since Monday, some of the past government officials, including former president Goodluck Jonathan’s men, had been calling to explain themselves, insisting that some of the property were taken either by their family members or close aides without their consent.
The Presidency official, who preferred not to be named in print since he is not the spokesperson of the Presidency, noted, however, that despite the last-minute efforts being made by the former officials to save their head from the ongoing probe directed by the President, they would still be made to explain their actions which amount to nothing but sharp practices.
He said, “Throughout (Monday), we have been receiving calls from some of the former aides and officials of government who claim that whatever was still in their possession were taken and were being kept either by their families members or personal assistants.
“Some even claim that they were aware that their family members were still living in government buildings while they were away in their home-towns or abroad, where they are on vacation. But their explanations amount to nothing but medicine after death. Whether they return the property or not, they must face the law because what the president is angry about is the action itself.”
Asked whether the committee set up to go after the culprits had identified them, he said, “We have the names of most of them on ground already. What the committee is doing at the moment is to ascertain whether due process was followed before they took the property as their personal possessions.
“Once discovered that they did not buy them in line with the monetization process initiated by former president Olusegun Obasanjo, they will still be prosecuted.”
President Buhari set up a committee consisting of security agents and civil servants to identify and recover public assets still with former political appointees.
Confirming the development on Sunday, Mallam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, explained that the aim was not to embarrass anyone but to recover government assets
“That is precisely the case. Even here at the Presidential Villa, there are cars and other property belonging to the government which are yet to be returned. The property belong to the Nigerian people. We are not trying to humiliate anyone by asking them to return their cars or houses,” he said.
Noting that he was not in a position to tell whether the state and local governments were facing similar challenges with retrieving government property from their predecessors, the presidential spokesman added, however, he would not be surprised if that is the case.
According to him, this attitude of holding on to government property even after leaving office must be a natural outcome of the culture of impunity entrenched in the country by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration.
“But change has come. That is why we have to do things differently now,” Shehu said.
He reiterated President Buhari’s commitment to running an austere government that will save the Nigerian people waste of public funds.
“Imagine how much Nigeria will save by retrieving and reusing these government property instead of purchasing new ones for new government officials,” he said.
We’ll recruit 10,000 youths into Police, install CCTV cameras in major cities – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the Federal Government is mooting the idea of recruiting 10,000 unemployed youths into the Nigeria Police Force to boost the population of the force as well as reduce the scourge of unemployment.
Buhari made this known Monday during a national security summit on Community Partnership Approach to Internal Security and Crime Management organised by the Nigeria Police Force in collaboration with the Sun newspaper.
The president who also revealed that Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras would be installed in major cities of the country, stressed the importance of collaboration between the police and Nigerian communities towards winning the war against insecurity.
He said: “Effective policing of a society is dependent on the level of security consciousness of the citizens and the strength of the understanding that exists between the policing agencies and the community. This explains why it is generally acknowledged that no police force in the world can successfully operate without the acceptance and support of the various communities.
“The need for community input into policing and crime management in Nigeria has even become more imperative considering our current national security challenges in which kidnapping, armed robbery, murder, transnational crimes, terrorism and other organized crimes have evolved to threaten our national values and overall progress as a nation.”
The President who listed some of the social factors that underlie criminal tendencies as unemployment, illiteracy, radicalization, negative peer group influence, substance abuse and erosion of family and moral values, however, noted that the task of addressing these challenges was that of parents, teachers, community and the state.
He continued: “It is in acknowledgement of this that I have identified youth empowerment as one of the cardinal objectives of our administration. In furtherance of this, the Federal government is planning to employ at least an extra 100,000 police officers and establish a properly trained and equipped Federal anti-terrorism multi-agency task force that will effectively address the challenge of future insurgency in a sustainable manner.
“In the meantime, efforts are being made to enhance the operational capacity of officers of the Nigeria Police through a tailor-made training programme that will give them the right civil orientation in their roles as guardians of the Constitution.
“In order to further strengthen security of the public space, consideration is being given to the expansion of the CCTV monitoring system across major cities and towns in the country, while the police accountability mechanism will be strengthened.”
Keynote speaker at the summit and Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Sa’ad Abubakar III, threw his weight behind the Federal government’s plan to prosecute the country’s treasury looters, stressing that indicted corrupt officials should be jailed.
The Sultan averred that no country makes progress as long as its leaders continue to plunder its resources and noted that traditional institutions had been at the forefront of discouraging corruption among its subjects.
He said: “We would like to state that our traditional institutions have for centuries played a central role in the maintenance of peace and order and the security management of the various communities.
In order to establish a decent state, corruption must be fought to a standstill.
“We are 100 percent in support of your fight against corruption in this country, and it is our belief that all those found guilty should not only have their entire assets seized or/and forfeited to government, but also face jail sentences.”
Apparently referring to prominent individuals that society holds in high esteem for their philanthropic efforts, the Sultan said: “Regardless of how many mosques or churches you have built or the charitable works you have carried out, the community will still wish to know the source of your wealth. The respectability you desire will only be conferred when the legitimacy of these sources is verified and certified.”
He challenged the security agencies to get involved in the anti-corruption campaign and purge themselves of the cankerworm for the war to be won.
“The Nigerian Police and other security agencies must join the crusade against corruption. Regardless of how well trained and equipped, you cannot attain your full potential if corruption and corrupt elements grace the corridors. Those who corrupt our national institutions from the outside must face the same consequences as those who do it from within,” he said.
The Sultan called on President Buhari to institute a national Integrity plan for the country, which he said will refocus the moral, ethical and spiritual energies and the indefatigable spirit of the people into building peaceful, prosperous, and democratic country.
Inspector-General of Police Solomon Arase, in his welcome address, called for adequate funding of Nigeria Police to ensure operational efficiency, stating that it was only through adequate funding that the huge logistic demand of the police could be met.