President Muhammadu Buhari says he will deal with anybody caught red-handed stealing public funds, regardless of the person’s ethnicity or religion.
The President said this in Abuja on Friday when he received an All Progressives Congress (APC) delegation from Benue State, led by Senator George Akume.
He also said leaders who undermine the economy by denying workers their benefits while stuffing personal accounts with public funds will not escape the current anti-corruption dragnet.
According to a statement by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Buhari said the Federal Government's bailout to states and Paris Club funds were basically to alleviate the sufferings of the people, describing misappropriations as unjust and unfair to workers.
“I honestly don’t know how people sleep when workers have not been paid. The workers have to pay rent, buy food, send their children to school and they have healthcare to take care of,” the President was quoted as saying.
“I assure you that my main interest is all Nigerians in all parts of the country. Therefore, if anybody who tries to create any impression that I prefer any group across ethnicity or religion let him dare me by being caught red handed stealing public funds. I will deal with him," he said.
He told the APC delegation that the Federal Executive Council had been monitoring the plight of workers across the country and the utilisation of the bailout and Paris Club funds by some states.
“I thank you for your courage to come and see me. This visit has resuscitated our morale,” he said, adding that his government had made significant progress in diversifying the economy by investing in agriculture and encouraging more individuals and entrepreneurs to go into farming.
“We are proud of what we have achieved with resources at our disposal,” he said, listing ongoing road, rail, sea port, airport and power projects as hallmarks of his administration’s commitment to improving lives.
He noted that the killings across the country, including in Benue, Zamfara and Taraba, were carried out by “ungodly’’ people who had no religious or ethnic inclinations.
“We know about herders. The ones we knew carried sticks, and sometimes cutlasses to cut foliage for their cattle. We now have people who carry AK 47s and pretend they are herdsmen,” he said.
“We are working hard to secure our borders. We are going to see how the old cattle routes can be opened. We will control movement. Please beg our people to be patient.”