By; Sunday Ode, Abuja.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday vowed that the anti-corruption crusade in the country being currently championed by his government will be deepened and institutionalized to last beyond the life of the administration.
Buhari spoke at the Presidential Villa, Abuja while receiving American Secretary of State, Mr John Kerry to an audience.
“We will insist on the standards we’re establishing. We are laying down administrative and financial instructions in the public service that must be obeyed. Any bareach will no longer be acceptable.
“We will retrain our staff, so that they understand the new orientation. And those who run foul of these rules will be prosecuted, no matter who is involved. But we will be fair, just and act according to the rule of law. Anyone perceived corrupt is innocent till we can prove it. We will work very hard to establish documentation for successful prosecution, and those in positions of trust will sit up.”
President Buhari appreciated the intervention of the U.S before the 2015 polls, demanding free and fair elections in Nigeria, saying, “America did not do it because of what it stands to benefit from us. You did it for the Nigerian people. It tells so much what the U.S stands for in the world.”
On the Boko Haram insurgency, President Buhari thanked the U.S for both hard and soft military help.
“The training and intelligence that we could not muster ourselves, we received. The training has made Boko Haram less of a threat to Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin region, while the military hardware has given our troops added confidence.”
President Buhari said though Militancy in the Niger Delta has impacted negatively on the economy and affected the positive intentions of international and local investors, government was showing restraint not to use real force, “except when constrained to do so.”
On the economy, the President assured that the focus of his administration was on the diversification of the economy having learnt our lessons from years of over dependence on oil.
In his remarks, Mr Kerry commended the courage of President Buhari in fighting corruption, saying: “We applaud what you are doing. Corruption creates a ready-made playing field for recruiting extremists. You inherited a big problem, and we will support you in any way we can. We will work with you very closely. We don’t want to interfere, but will offer opportunities as you require.”
The American Secretary of State also pledged to assist in tackling the humanitarian challenges in the North-East, adding that his country would get the UK, France, and others “to augment the support.”
“Nigeria is priority for us. We won’t miss the opportunity to work together, because you are making significant progress,” Mr Kerry said.
Also on Tuesday, representatives of the Northern Governors’ Forum met with Mr. Kerry, at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The meeting of the visiting Secretary of State with five of the 19 Northern Governors took place immediately Kerry was through with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Briefing State House Correspondents after the meeting, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State said the Northern Governors extracted a commitment from the US Secretary of State for assistance in the areas of renewable energy, health care and education to the region.
By; Sunday Ode, Abuja.