President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has deplored what he termed mislabelling and blanket stereotyping of Nigeria as a country with the highest prevalence of cybercrime and other forms of corrupt practices among its population, saying it undermines majority of the citizens maintaining the principles of integrity and diligence.
He regretted that over the years, the entire Nigerian populace had been linked with internet crimes without statistical proof, a development he said is out of tune with the way of life of the typical Nigerian citizen.
The president made the observation on Wednesday during a Public Engagement on Youth, Religion, and the Fight Against Corruption, as well as the Launch of Inter-Faith Manual and Fraud Risk Assessment Project for MDAs at Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja.
The event organised by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is a multi-dimensional stakeholders’ involvement in the fight against economic and financial crimes.
The president who was represented at the event by Vice President Kashim Shettima, noted that on the contrary, Nigerians are meticulous, authentic citizens who have been making significant contributions to innumerable fields of endeavours around the world.
“Over the decades, Nigerians have been victims of mislabelling. Such gross misrepresentation fails to reflect the true essence of our diverse and resilient nation. The association of internet crimes with the entire Nigerian populace lacks statistical evidence and does not align with the sociology of everyday Nigerians.
“Our nation comprises hardworking, honest citizens who contribute significantly to various fields globally, from Artificial Intelligence to medicine.
“While we reject blanket stereotyping that undermines the majority upholding principles of integrity and diligence, we must face the fact that we function in an interconnected world where cybercrimes have evolved into a global phenomenon. This poses a threat not only to our nation but to the entire world,” President Tinubu stated.
Delivering his speech titled, “Youth, Religion, and Our Battle Against Corruption: A Call to Action,” the president applauded the EFCC “for remaining a moral compass, persistently rousing the nation’s conscience,” just as he said through its operations, the commission has remained vocal in “telling the world that Nigeria is neither complicit nor complacent in confronting the menace of corruption”.
Underscoring the urgency of combating internet crimes and neutralising the threat caused by other forms of corruption head on, President Tinubu assured the anti-graft agency of “the government’s support in its quest to combat these digital offences.
“We must recognise that the Commission’s lawful efforts to bring fraudsters to book are imperative for the overall well-being of our society. The government is aware that our ambitious goal of eradicating internet offences and corruption demands an atmosphere steeped in trust and integrity. We must foster open communication channels and ensure that law enforcement actions align with justice and accountability,” he added.
The president also stressed the need to remind Nigerian youth that there are abundant opportunities for lawful enterprises, both within and outside the shores of the country.
This, he said, is the reason why the federal government has taken steps to establish a Students Loan Board to address the financial needs of students.
He continued: “This initiative aims not only to alleviate financial burdens but also to disincentivize criminality by offering a tangible alternative. Our message to the youth is clear: the horizon is wide, and opportunities abound across various sectors.
“Seize these prospects, embark on lawful enterprises, and let your talents shine. The government encourages you to leverage these opportunities, exhibit your capabilities across all sectors, and contribute to the prosperity of our great nation”.
President Tinubu lauded efforts by the EFCC to tackle corruption through the Inter-Faith and Fraud Risk Assessment Projects, saying the “initiative recognises the potential of religion as a tool for ethical reformation and underscores the importance of engaging diverse faith communities in our fight against corruption.
“Simultaneously, this initiative addresses vulnerabilities within government agencies and acknowledges the critical need to fortify these institutions against corrupt practices.
“Our nation is deeply rooted in religious values, and it is crucial to acknowledge that both Christianity and Islam vehemently condemn corruption. With these profound teachings in mind, I urge our revered religious leaders to demonstrate a pillar of guidance,” he added.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Chairman of EFCC, Ola Olukoyede, said the launch of the interfaith manuals and the Fraud Risk Assessment Project for MDAs are all geared towards engaging relevant and critical stakeholders in the reinvigorated anti-corruption fight in the country.
He said the prevalence of cybercrime and related activities involving youths is worrisome and necessitates the adoption of proactive measures by the commission under his watch.
The EFCC boss also spoke about the involvement of religious organisations in illicit activities, including money laundering and urged leaders across different groups to partner the commission by propagating messages that glorify the virtues of integrity, honesty and hard work.
In his goodwill message, the Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), emphasised the significance of paying more attention to preventive measures in the renewed fight against corruption.
He urged religious leaders, traditional rulers, heads of tertiary institutions in the country and youth groups to take ownership of the reinvigorated anti-corruption crusade under the Tinubu administration.
In separate remarks, President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Daniel Okoh; Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, and the Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Ogunwusi, were unanimous in their commendation of President Tinubu and the EFCC management for the administration’s avowed commitment to the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
They declared the total support of their various communities and groups to the renewed fight against corruption that prioritises prevention, urging political leaders at all levels to intensify efforts by leading by example and ensuring the reviewing of existing laws to prevent corrupt activities in public and private establishments.
Also present at the event were the Chairman, Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption, Emmanuel Udende who represented the Senate President; Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Abubakar Bagudu; Chairperson of the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities and Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin, Lilian Salami; Chairman of Channels TV, John Momoh; former Minister of Works & Housing, Babatunde Fashola; JAMB Registrar, Ishaq Oloyede, and some heads of government agencies and parastatals, among others.
Senior Special Assistant to The President on Media & Communications
(Office of The Vice President)
31st January, 2024
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