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I’ll wipe out oil sector corruption in 4 years – GEJ

Within the next four years, corruption will be wiped out from Nigeria’s oil and gas sector.

That was the pledge of President Goodluck Jonathan at a forum of Nigeria’s young professionals, held in Lagos, on Sunday evening.

Earlier in the day, Jonathan and his challengers from some other parties, outlined their blueprints on how to tackle some of the country’s challenges at the presidential debate in Abuja.

President Jonathan is the candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

In Lagos, Jonathan who responded to a request that he access the impact of corruption in the country, spoke about how his administration had been able to tackle the menace in the agriculture sector as well as in the payment of workers’ salaries.

He recalled that even while he was Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, previous administrations made several unsuccessful efforts to end corruption in the distribution of fertiliser. But, he added, his administration’s e-wallet system has ended the menace in the distribution of fertiliser, just as his government’s e-payment scheme has eliminated thousands of ghost workers, thereby saving the nation billions of Naira.

Those who unveiled their plans, alongside Jonathan at the presidential debate were Dr. Chewas Okorie of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Prof. Oluremi Sonaiya (KOWA Party), Mr. Godson Okoye (United Democratic Party, UDP) and Chief Martins Onovo (National Conscience Party, NCP).

The presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) was conspicuously absent out of the six Presidential candidates slated to feature in the second and final phase of the Presidential Election Debate held on Sunday at the International Conference Center (ICC) Abuja.

Jonathan in his response to a question on how he would tackle corruption and insurgency during the Abuja debate, said he would focus on instituting strong measures that would prevent corrupt activities. He stated that his regime has actually began this process especially in the current electronic payroll system and the Agric sector reforms which he said, has helped to ensure that local farmers were not deprived fertilizer supplies and other basic farming needs.

He also said that he would strengthen the anti- corruption institutions and seek ways of ensuring that the legal process is enhanced in order to get the courts to respond to corruption cases as quickly as possible.

The PDP standard bearer however urged that citizens can help the government in the war against corruption by shunning individuals whose sources of wealth were questionable and also by refusing to recognise and honour them.

UPP presidential candidate, Chekwas Okorie, blamed the rising cases of corruption in the land on what he described as weak laws.

He stated that since his party is passionate about anti-corruption, he would, if elected president, ensure a continuous asset declaration on annual basis by all cadre of officials in his government so that the citizens will be able to monitor the assets of functionaries of government.

Okorie, who frowned at what he described as the misuse of security votes by executive public office holders, maintained that he would equally tackle corruption by enduring that the immunity clause does not cover corruption cases.

Godson Okoye of the United Democratic Party (UDP) blamed the system inherited from the colonial rule as the reason for the upsurge of corruption, saying that it is “defective”. He said if elected president, he would fight corruption through the instrument of merit recognition and competence.

Prof. Comfort Sonaiya of KOWA party blamed corruption on “misplaced priority”. She stated that money earmarked for development is diverted into private pockets, which she said, was the attraction of most less qualified individuals into public governance.

Martins Onovo of the National Conscience Party (NCP) argued that as long as people privileged to be in public office continued to “pocket desperately”, corruption would be on the increase. He said the Federal Government under his presidency would employ the twin formulae of “education and enforcement” of the relevant laws to pummel corruption.

On the issue of insurgency, President Jonathan stated that his regime had already embarked on counter-offensive measures to rout the insurgents in territories where they held sway a few weeks ago in the North-East part of the country. He assured that his government, if re-elected, would consolidate action on the on-going war against insurgency. The President revealed that government had currently deployed drones in the remote areas where the insurgents were operating to help find out what was on-going in those areas.

Jonathan equally assured that the current efforts would pay off in the quest to rescue the Chibok girls. He also stated that the victims of insurgency were now being rehabilitated through the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) and the presidential rehabilitation and intervention initiative headed by former Defence minister, General Theophilus Danjuma (rtd).

In his presentation, Chekwas Okorie said a UPP government at the centre would focus on the rehabilitation of internally displaced persons and also ensure that those who lost their loved ones had their conditions ameliorated. He maintained his regime would consider seriously the contentious issue of community policing to ensure citizens’ participation in securing their environment.

Prof. Comfort Sonaiya said the nation’s Armed forces should be first commended for the gallant effort so far in fighting the intractable insurgency. She maintained that the priority of her government, if elected into power, would be to ensure that the Chibok girls were brought back, as according to her that is the only way the nation would claim to have made progress in the war against insurgency.

She also said that her regime would equally ensure that the families of the combatant soldiers were well taken care of “so that their children don’t go to the streets begging.”

Sonaiya pointed out that her regime would ensure adequate management of information regarding or relating to insurgency “so that it does not backfire”.

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Ihesiulo Grace

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