Efforts of Nigerian Government to attract foreign investment into the country would come to naught unless urgent steps are taken to tackle corruption, United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Howard Jeter has said.
Speaking yesterday at the opening of a training workshop on “Combating Economic Crime, Advanced Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture” organized for Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) investigators and prosecutors in Abuja, Jeter said that “the efforts of the Nigerian government in attracting foreign investment are not yielding results because investors are being scared away by the level of corruption in Nigeria.”
“Promising opportunities abound in Nigeria but regrettably, corruption which is Nigeria’s number one problem has frightened away prospective investors”, Jeter remarked.
Jeter described corruption as “a corrosive, which eats away the very fabrics of the government and society”, adding, “it undermines and de-legitimizes private and public institutions that would have been expanded on other sectors such as education, health, and social infrastructure and scares away foreign investors. Investors are frightened by corruption”.
He however praised the courage of the Commission officials in fighting corruption and adviced them to be detailed in their investigation and presentation of evidence, as this is their only weapon in winning cases in court.
Chairman ICPC, Justice Mustapha Akanbi expressed happiness over the Commission’s progress and pace in investigating cases referred to it saying, “Nigerians now have confidence in the ICPC.”
Justice Akanbi maintained that the Commission has been able to build confidence on the people, given the number of cases and complaints it receives every other day. He cited an example where complaints from the Japanese Embassy led the Commission to smash a money laundering syndicate in Lagos recently after having two of the criminals arrested.
He lauded the sustained support of the US Ambassador to Nigeria, whom he referred to as ‘a worthy alien’ and other US agencies for the ICPC programmes and called on all Nigerians to help in make Nigeria a corrupt-free country.
“It is only Nigeria that will move Africa forward”, he said.
Justice Akanbi said the Commission has 19 cases in court, 64 cases that have been fully investigated and an additional 84 cases still being investigated.
The training workshop has resource persons drawn from the United States government’s Prosecutorial Department Office and former FBI agents, who are to share their profound knowledge and experience gathered over 60 years in the course of their work with the Commission officials.
He said that decent people should contest the leadership of political parties and organisations with the crop of politicians that are of the vulture extraction, who now paraded themselves as exclusive and custodians of the polity of Nigeria.
“The three major supposedly registered political parties are shamelessly and fraudulently hoarding membership cards that decent but impoverished Nigerians do not freely participate in the exercise.”
“It is time to ignore our government on key national issue that touch on the lives of citizens, such issues as Traffic Control, establishment of zebra crossings at points where schools are located near major streets, General sanitation, Local security Organisations” Iloh affirmed noting that, government insensitivity to the yearnings and aspirations of the people is the major reason why the people, should disregard the government.
Blessing Ugwuodo, This Day (Lagos), August 2, 2002