21 Individuals, Firms Received N54.65bn From $2.1bn Arms Deal Scandal – FG

Minister of Information and culture
Minister of Information and culture

Twenty one individuals and companies received N54.65bn from the $2.1bn arms deal scandal currently rocking the country.

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this while speaking with online publishers in Lagos on Friday, according to a statement issued by the ministry in Abuja.

Making comparison, the minister said what 21 individuals and companies received from the arms deal was higher than what the Federal Government budgeted for zonal intervention programmes across the country in 2015 by N2.83bn, adding that corruption was the reason government programmes don’t make the required impact.

He said, “The simple reason is that appropriated funds have ended up in the pockets of a few.

“Whereas the sum of N51.83bn was appropriated for 1,278 projects in the Zonal Intervention Projects for 2015, a total of 21 individuals and companies benefited from the Dasukigate to the tune of N54.66bn as we know so far.

‘“The implication, therefore, is that the amount received by 21 individuals and companies is more than the 2015 Zonal Intervention Project budget by N2.83bn!

“Furthermore, the value of what beneficiaries of Dasukigate contributed to development is zero, compared to how the lives of Nigerians would have been transformed, poverty reduced and livelihoods improved by the Zonal Intervention Projects which would have cost N2.83bn less than Dasukigate.”

Mohammed also said it was not necessary to regulate online publications because the publishers are responsible enough to regulate themselves.

He, however, told the publishers to ensure that they maintain credibility.

“If the online publications suffer credibility problems, they stand the risk of losing the confidence of their readers and the advertisers who provide the lifeblood for the publications’ survival,” he said.

He said while the number of online publications was bound to grow in the days ahead, only the credible ones would continue to enjoy patronage, either from the readers or from the advertisers.

The minister said it was in the interest of government that online publications continue to grow in number because the more the number of such publications, the easier it becomes to bridge the information gap between the government and the governed, and the easier it becomes for the government to carry the citizens along in the formulation and implementation of policies that touch on their lives.

He promised that the Federal Government would patronise the online publications through adverts.

Mohammed said, “All we ask for, in return, is that you provide accurate information to the people, and avoid sensationalism and partisanship.

‘’The National Security Awareness Campaign, aimed at rallying the support of Nigerians for the war on terror, is on-going. Also, the National Sensitisation Campaign against Corruption was formally launched in Abuja on Monday, and it is aimed at rallying Nigerians against the cankerworm of corruption which has eaten deep into the fabric of our society.

“We are also preparing to launch a National Re-orientation Campaign, which is tagged ‘Change Begins With Me’, to achieve a paradigm shift in the way we do things.”

Mohammed described the war against corruption as one of the cardinal programmes of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration

He said, “Some have said the government is dwelling too much on the war against corruption to the detriment of other areas of governance. Our response to that is that indeed, there is nothing like dwelling too much on this war, which is a war of survival for our nation.

“The situation is grim, very grim indeed, as far as corruption is concerned. That is why the Federal Government is embarking on this sensitisation campaign. Our approach is not to vilify anyone but to use facts and figures to give Nigerians a sense of the cost of corruption.”

He appealed to online publishers to support the war against corruption by ensuring that Nigerians are well informed about the evils of corruption.