. Why we remain popular with people — AbdulRazaq
· EFCC records 48 convictions, tasks youths on corruption crusade
· Probes diversion of N3bn in Light Up Kwara project
Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq led a marathon anti-corruption walk across downtown Ilorin on Friday amid renewed calls on Nigerians, especially young people, to shun graft or activities capable of stunting development.
Tagged Nigerian Youths Walk Against Corruption, AbdulRazaq was joined in the over two-hour walk by the Speaker of the House of Assembly Yakubu Danladi; zonal head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Isyaku Sharu; State Coordinator of the National Youths Service Corps Esther Ikupolati; members of the House of Assembly; hundreds of members of the NYSC; artisans; and civil society organisations.
The walk was one of the EFCC’s public awareness programmes to draw attention to the danger of corruption.
AbdulRazaq, who arrived the EFCC office at 7a.m. and joined the walk from the beginning to the end, repeated President Muhammadu Buhari’s refrain that corruption would kill the country if the country fails to kill the cancer that the Governor said was responsible for the slow pace of development.
“We have been walking the talk, now we are walking in support of the war (against corruption). The message is very clear: kill corruption or it will kill us all,” he said.
“We have to do the right thing and be cautious. We have seen what has happened to those that have been in (this) position before us. Nobody wants to live office and be going to EFCC’s office daily. So, we will do the right thing in Kwara State state. We appreciate the EFCC, they had earlier given us over N100million. They have invited us (again) to collect another N200m (recovered looted funds); they have made a lot of progress.”
Asked what he thought was the reason for Kwarans always wanting to catch a glimpse of him at every opportunity he moves around, AbdulRazaq said the excitement apparently flows from his investment in projects that have direct impact on the masses such as water, health, education, and roads, as well as his constant identification with the people.
“We remain popular with the people because we have invested and are still investing in projects that really make the difference in their lives. We have restored water after many years. We have invested in basic health care, education, and road and people can tell the difference,” he said when the walk terminated at the EFCC office.
The anti-corruption walk was organised by the EFCC in partnership with the NYSC.
Danladi said the corruption crusade requires the support of all Nigerians to succeed, asserting that graft is deadlier to the society than HIV/AIDS and must be stamped out, especially in Kwara where he lamented how billions of naira have been diverted to private pockets at the expense of the masses.
He also lamented the negative impacts of internet fraud on the country and called on the youths to shun it.
Sharu, who lauded AbdulRazaq for being an anti-graft crusader, said the agency has recorded 48 convictions and recovered at least N8.5bn in cash and properties in Kwara since it began operation last year.
Sharu said the agency is also probing the alleged diversion of over N3bn from the controversial Light Up Kwara project .
“We are also on top of the case of Light Up Kwara where over three billion naira was allegedly diverted. Part of the diverted fund was used to buy a property in Guzape Abuja. Some recoveries were also made,” he said.
Sharu called on the youths to stop celebrating corrupt elements and support anti-corruption crusade through the government’s whistle blower policy because they are the worst hit by the effects of diversion of public funds.
“What we saw last Monday at the Federal High Court Ilorin was a show of shame and national embarrassment by some group of youth who came out en masse to show solidarity to an accused person charged for money laundering by the EFCC. The media houses have all carried the picture of the said accused person waiving hands to those shameless youths. This is indeed sad,” according to the local anti-corruption chief.
Ikupolati also urged youths to support the crusade against corruption as their future depends on how much Nigeria is able to grow, warning graft makes development a mirage.
She commended AbdulRazaq for the phenomenal transformation of the NYSC camp at Yikpata since he assumed office in May, recalling how the Governor’s visit and his experience led him to totally improve the facilities at the camp.
“Today, Kwara now has a camp that is like a five star hotel. It has never been so good. We now have water running and our story has changed completely,” Ikupolati said.