ABUJA—Bola Tinubu, the president, has firmly opposed the unfair generalization that Nigerians are inherently dishonest.
He expressed the view at a forum, with the theme, ”Public Engagement on Youth, Religion, and the Fight Against Corruption,” organized by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in Abuja.
The event also marked the launch of an Inter-Faith Manual and Fraud Risk Assessment Project for MDAs.
Tinubu, who was represented by Vice President Kashim Shettima, commended the EFCC for serving as a moral compass and persistently awakening the nation’s conscience.
He flayed the unfairness of labeling all Nigerians corrupt, based on the actions of a few, stressing that the country was home to diligent and honest people.
In clear terms, the President rejected the blanket mislabeling that taints the reputation of majority of Nigerian citizens.
While highlighting the global contributions of Nigerians in significant fields, such as Artificial Intelligence and medicine, the President noted that such gross misrepresentation failed to reflect the true essence of a nation composed of diverse and resilient people.
He said: “Over the decades, Nigerians have been victims of mislabelling. Such gross misrepresentation fails to reflect the true essence of our diverse and resilient nation.
”The association of internet crimes with the entire Nigerian populace lacks statistical evidence and does not align with the sociology of everyday Nigerians.
”Our nation comprises hardworking, honest citizens who contribute significantly to various fields globally, from Artificial Intelligence to medicine.
“While we reject blanket stereotyping that undermines the majority upholding principles of integrity and diligence, we must face the fact that we function in an interconnected world where cybercrimes have evolved into a global phenomenon.”
President Tinubu acknowledged the global threat of cybercrimes and assured the EFCC of the government’s unwavering support in their battle against digital offences.
He highlighted the establishment of a Students Loan Board to support young Nigerians financially, thus discouraging them from engaging in unlawful activities.
“Our message to the youth is clear: the horizon is wide, and opportunities abound across various sectors,” he said.
The President urged the youths to take advantage of these lawful prospects and contribute to the nation’s prosperity.
He also called on religious leaders to serve as pillars of guidance and charged MDAs to work closely with the EFCC to streamline governance processes and ensure resources were used judiciously for the benefit of all citizens.
In his remarks, CAN President, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, echoed concerns over corruption’s detrimental effects, emphasizing the need for collaborative efforts to reverse the trend.
“Corruption remains one of the major challenges we have in our country today. I would like to urge government at all levels to strengthen the justice system in Nigeria to indict and discipline any established act of corruption in order to give strong support to this campaign against corruption in our dear nation,” he said.
The Archbishop reminded everyone that the youths did not create corruption but are being influenced by it.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, in his remarks, emphasized the importance of appointing officials with unblemished records to combat corruption effectively.
He said: “For any government to effectively combat corruption, the first step lies in the appointment of government officials. Great care must be taken in selecting individuals for these positions in order for the government to succeed.
“These appointees must have no history of criminal activities. If someone with a known history of corruption is appointed and it is believed that they will suddenly change within the span of four years, then there is a fundamental misunderstanding. The appointment of government officials must be treated with utmost seriousness.
“To the EFCC chairman: you were nominated by the executive, confirmed by the Senate, and the judiciary knows what you’re doing. Your intention to seek approval from these three bodies is highly commendable, and they must support you as they are the ones who put you in that position.
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, called for dialogue and structural reforms to address systemic issues and foster societal values.
“Let us engage in dialogue and change the current structure, following the example set by the chairman of the EFCC, by publicly involving and discussing issues, such as youth, religion, and the fight against corruption. We need to thoroughly engage with one another to identify the root of the problem.
“The fundamental issue is that we cannot survive with the current state of affairs in Nigeria. It is simply not possible. Anyone claiming otherwise is not being truthful. Even if we were the most intelligent people in the world, it would still be impossible.”
On his part, EFCC chairman, Ola Olukoyede, said the agency was committed to prevention strategies and collaboration with faith-based organizations to combat corruption.
“With all modesty, we have been effective in deploying our enforcement powers in tackling various forms of financial crimes, including grand corruption and cybercrimes.
”Our conviction profile and record of asset recovery are unmatched by any other agency. But rather than abate, these crimes appear to have festered, suggesting that a change of approach might be imperative.
“This realization commends a reconsideration of the commission’s anti-graft strategy with a new focus on prevention in line with the popular dictum that prevention is better than cure. It is also in tandem with the recommendations of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, UNCAC,” he said.