By Wahab Akanji, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has pledged that the anti-corruption crusade in the country will be deepened and institutionalized to last beyond the life of the current administration.Receiving American Secretary of State, Mr John Kerry, at an audience in State House, Abuja, Tuesday, the President declared: “We will insist on the standards we’re establishing. We are laying down administrative and financial instructions in the public service that must be obeyed. Any breach will no longer be acceptable.”
“We will retrain our staff, so that they understand the new orientation. And those who run foul of these rules will be prosecuted, no matter who is involved. But we will be fair, just and act according to the rule of law. Anyone perceived corrupt is innocent till we can prove it. We will work very hard to establish documentation for successful prosecution, and those in positions of trust will sit up.”
President Buhari appreciated the intervention of the U.S before the 2015 polls, demanding free and fair elections in Nigeria, saying, “America did not do it because of what it stands to benefit from us. You did it for the Nigerian people. It tells so much what the U.S stands for in the world.”
On the Boko Haram insurgency, President Buhari thanked the U.S for both hard and soft military help. “The training and intelligence that we could not muster ourselves, we received. The training has made Boko Haram less of a threat to Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin region, while the military hardware has given our troops added confidence.”
President Buhari said though Militancy in the Niger Delta has impacted negatively on the economy and affected the positive intentions of international and local investors, government was showing restraint not to use real force, “except when constrained to do so.”
On the economy, the President assured that the focus of his administration is on the diversification of the economy having learnt our lessons from years of over dependence on oil.
In his remarks, Mr Kerry commended the courage of President Buhari in fighting corruption, saying: “We applaud what you are doing. Corruption creates a ready-made playing field for recruiting extremists. You inherited a big problem, and we will support you in any way we can. We will work with you very closely. We don’t want to interfere, but will offer opportunities as you require.”
The American Secretary of State also pledged to assist in tackling the humanitarian challenges in the North-east, adding that his country would get the UK, France, and others “to augment the support.”
“Nigeria is priority for us. We won’t miss the opportunity to work together, because you are making significant progress,” Mr Kerry said.