President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday indicted the international community for looking the other way while corrupt persons stashed away stolen funds in secret bank accounts abroad.
According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, Buhari said this in London at the opening of the Anti-Corruption Summit hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain.
To stem the tide, Buhari urged the international community to urgently create an anti-corruption infrastructure and a strategic action plan to facilitate the speedy recovery and repatriation of all stolen funds hidden in secret bank accounts abroad.
He said new measures against corruption that would be adopted by the summit should also include mechanisms that would assist a country like Nigeria to combat illegal activities such as crude oil theft to which, he said, Nigeria loses about $7bn annually.
He said, “When it comes to tackling corruption, the international community has unfortunately looked away for too long. We need to step up and tackle this evil together. That is why we have gathered here today.
“Corruption creates a system where resources are shared by a small elite while the majority wallows in poverty. Corruption also undermines the ability of countries to finance development.
“I recall, in this regard, the landmark Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the 3rd International Conference on Finance for Development held in January this year.
“A prominent feature of that global framework is the recognition that good governance and measures to combat corruption and curb illicit financial flows will be integral to the effort to attain sustainable development globally by the year 2050.
“It is for this reason that my government is determined to address illicit financial outflows which have served as a major impediment to progress in our country.
“I wish to reiterate our demand that the global community must come up with mechanisms for dismantling havens for stolen funds and facilitate the return of stolen assets to their countries of origin.”
In his opening remarks at the summit, Cameron was reported to have applauded Buhari’s efforts at curbing corruption in Nigeria.
Other speakers at the opening session included the President of the World Bank, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, and the United States Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry.
Meanwhile, President Buhari, again on Thursday, rose in support of British Prime Minister, David Cameron, saying he was being honest by describing Nigeria as a fantastically corrupt country.
According to a news item posted on the website of the Cable News Network, Buhari said this in an interview with the CNN Chief International Correspondent, Christiane Amanpour.
Buhari was further quoted as saying that Cameron’s statement could not be faulted because he was honest.
“I think he’s being honest about it…I don’t think you can fault him,” Buhari reportedly said.
The President was also said to have disclosed that he decided to limit his meetings with the parents of the over 200 Chibok girls kidnapped in their school in 2014 because of his “emotional balance.”
He said he had met twice with the families of the missing schoolgirls.
“I saw the families as a group twice. The first time, they came to visit my wife. The second, they came as a group to see me, and the less I see them the better for my own emotional balance.
“I try to imagine my 14-year-old year old daughter missing for more than two years. I try to imagine what condition they are in. A lot of the fathers would rather see their graves, than imagine (their daughters) under such a condition. It’s tragic,” he added.
Asked about a recent video that showed some of the missing schoolgirls alive, Buhari said he had not seen the clip.
He said he would not have shown it to the families even if he had seen it.
“I have not seen that video and even if I see it, I will be very careful about showing it to the family. There is no point to deliberately raise the hopes of the families if you can’t meet them.
“If we know where they are, then we can organise to secure them, but if they have been divided in a group of five, 10, all over this region of Lake Chad Commission, that is Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria and Niger, there is no way we can spontaneously and simultaneously attack all those locations and get the girls and the important thing to us is to get them alive,” he added.
However, the President said his administration was still trying to establish a bona fide Boko Haram leadership before entering into talks with it.
“We are prepared to talk to them. We can’t just talk to whoever gets a video clip,” he said.