Extend Anti-Corruption War To Cabinet Members – Yoruba Forum Tells Buhari

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A socio-cultural group, Yoruba Unity Forum (YUF), yesterday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to also beam the searchlight of his anti-corruption crusade on some members of his cabinet whose names were being mentioned in slush funds.

The forum yesterday said: “For the anti-corruption fight to achieve its objectives, it needs to be less selective and more thorough.

“Special courts must be set up for speedy trials of corruption allegations, the Bar and the Bench must first be cleansed of corruption and people found guilty of corruption must be jailed and shamed to deter others.”

The group stated in an open letter to President Buahri and read by the Vice Chairman, Mr. Ayo Ladigbolu, who represented the Chairman, Rt. Reverend Bolanle Gbonigi, at the Ikenne country home of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

YUF noted that it was not captivated by the president’s fight against corruption as it argued that only news of stolen funds were being heard no culprit has been sent to jail so far.

They declared that the fight lacked required thoroughness, fairness and diligent investigation, as they called for stoppage of plea bargaining in cases of graft.

The group noted that it was constrained to write an open letter to the president having tried unsuccessfully in the last six months to secure audience with him at the State House.

The letter entitled: ‘Open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on the state of the nation’ read in part: “We, like most Nigerians, are worried about our rapidly declining foreign reserves and levels of revenue available to all tiers of government due to declining oil production and falling international oil prices.

“We are worried about the inability of governments to pay salaries and pensions; about the daily depreciating value of the naira in relation to the dollar; about dwindling factory production, rising inflation and youth unemployment.

“We are concerned about the escalating cost of staple foods and the continuous deterioration in the level of power supply; about our nation’s almost total dependence on importation of goods for survival.

“And more poignantly, about the heightened insecurity and perceived marginalisation around the country and the ethno-religious pogroms and genocide that are now becoming the order of the day.”

While preferring solution to the present economic and social challenges, the body suggested seven points which include: belt-tightening by the leaders, agricultural development, involving mechanisation, and youth engagement.

Others include the engagement of youth in infrastructural development to promote youth employment; indigenisation of construction activities; promotion of local manufacturing through the setting up of fully developed industrial parks and the banning of imports; reforming of the banking sector to facilitate low-interest loans to manufacturers and for agriculture, credible fight against corruption and recognition of the imperative of national restructuring.

Speaking on belt tightening, he said the group had argued that even when the economy was booming, the level of consumption of Nigerians was very much out of sync with the nation’s resources, saying there should be a need for a very drastic belt tightening, now that the economy was in the doldrums.

“To achieve an effective national belt-tightening, it must start from the top-the president, governors, government ministers and the national and state legislators.

“Allowances and salaries must be reduced and official convoys trimmed. National Assembly legislators in particular must come down to earth with their extra-constitutional allowances.

“The corruption conduit created by the so-called constituency projects must be blocked,” he stated.

The body, therefore, called for a reduction in the number of aides across all tiers of government, starting from the presidency, and that they must be made to patronise made-in-Nigeria goods only.

They also frowned at the political appointments of President Buhari one year after he took office, stating that it showed that 69.5 per cent of the appointees were from the North, with about two-thirds of those coming from his geo-political zone-the North West.

He said almost all the heads of the security and para-security agencies were from the North.

The letter added: “A respected kinsman of yours has even accused you of nepotism, a charge he amply supported with incontrovertible evidence.

“Reinforcing the fears of ethnic domination is now the rampant marauding Fulani herdsmen, militarily armed, terrorising other Nigerians; rampaging their farms, burning their villages, raping their wives and daughters and engaging in mass slaughtering of innocent and defenseless citizens as is now happening in Southern Kaduna State.”

The group therefore called on President Buhari to implement recommendations of the 2014 National Conference, and not to consign it to the archives.

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