Fifty-five people stole N1.3trillion from the national treasury in seven years under President Goodluck Jonathan’s watch, the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) has said.
The committee said Jonathan tolerated corruption, closed his eyes to graft while his administration fared worse than his predecessors in tackling official sleaze.
In its report of activities from August 2015 to July 2016 presented to civil society organisations (CSOs) by its Executive Secretary Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye during an interactive session in Abuja yesterday, PACAC said corruption brought Nigeria to its knees under Jonathan.
The report says: “His (Jonathan’s) tolerance of corruption was reflected in the sunset of activities of anti-corruption agencies under his watch and exponential increase of other vices no doubt fuel by corruption.
“For example, it is widely believed that insecurity escalated because of the massive embezzlement of $2 billion through the Office of the National Security Adviser under the leadership of Col. Sambo Dasuki, who allegedly diverted the money appropriated to fight insurgency.
“The problems in the downstream sector of the petroleum industry reached zenith with multi-billion dollars subsidy scams while President Jonathan looked the other way.
“At the same time, other vices spread like cancer – kidnapping, import duty waivers, financial recklessness, a profligate legislature, corrupt judiciary, etc. There was no single high profile conviction under his watch, yet there were allegations of high profile corruption within his cabinet.
“Jonathan’s legendary comment that stealing is not corruption underscored his perspective on corruption and remains a watershed in the history of anti-corruption crusade in Nigeria.
“Under his watch, corruption brought Nigeria to its knees.”
PACAC said using World Bank rates, one-third of the N1.3trillion allegedly stolen by only 55 people in seven years could have provided 635.18 kilometres of roads, built 36 ultra-modern hospitals in each state, built and furnished 183 schools, educated 3,974 people from primary to tertiary level (at N25.2 million per child) and built 20,062 units of two-bedroom houses.
The committee noted that while former President Olusegun Obasanjo established key anti-corruption agencies, which led to high-profile convictions even though “his actions were not above board”, the crusade against corruption went comatose from 2007 “largely due to leadership deficit”.
PACAC said corruption is Nigeria’s greatest challenge and is directly associated with the current economic decline, poverty rates, reduced life expectancy, mortality and deteriorated living standards.
Owasanoye said due to corruption, a few Nigerians were richer than their states, while plea bargaining was abused as people who stole the country dry were given slaps on the wrist and asked to go home.
He said PACAC has designed a Plea Bargain Manual, which mandates custodial sentence for all those who plead guilty of looting after returning all they stole.