By EMMA UJAH, Abuja Bureau Chief
President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, expressed his frustration in the fight against corruption in the country, over what he described as a retrogressive system through which the society rewards corrupt people, rather than punish them.
Addressing the Nigerian Economic Society’s 54th Annual Conference, in Abuja, President Jonathan lamented that corruption has permeated both public and private sectors and has continued to hamper the nation’s desired accelerated development because members of the society were used to celebrating corrupt people.
President Jonathan who admitted fear of being attacked, said he would not mention names, but urged all good-spirited members of the society to join the fight against corruption which he said must not be left to the government alone.
His words: “When you talk about corruption, the private sector is involved; the public sector is involved; even the individuals, including other societies, and I wouldn’t want to mention names so that I will not be attacked.
“But I know that if collectively all of us don’t reward corruption, people would not be attracted to corrupt practices, but when we all reward corruption, then of course, we will be tempted to go in that direction.
“I want a society where all of us will frown against people who come up with what they are not supposed to have.
“If a young man who just started a job and within six months or a year comes up with a car of N7m to N15m and you clap for him, then you are rewarding corruption.
“So for us as a nation to bring corruption down in Nigeria, it’s not just blaming government or blaming police, but all individuals must frown at people who have what they are not supposed to have, who live in houses they supposed not to live in; who drive cars they are not supposed to drive and who wear suits more expensive they can afford.
“And until we, as Nigerians are able to do this, then invariably we are all rewarding corruption and until we stop that, I don’t think we will get to where we want to go .”
The President promised to pursue policies under his transformation agenda with a view to making corruption unattractive to public officers.
“We believe that we should not create an environment where people would be tempted to take what belongs to the public because that is why even in the fertiliser business we talked about electronic wallet, e-Wallet, so that funds are not exposed to corrupt people,” he said.
According to him, his administration was strengthening anti-corruption institutions and Federal Government policies under which it has become easier for workers to own cars and their own houses were targeted at reducing corruption by eliminating the pressure for the acquisition of those properties on civil servants.