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Former deputy governor of Lagos State, Alhaja Sinatu Ojikutu has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to initiate a process that would require Nigeria’s former leaders to make genuine restitution to the country.
While arguing that refund of ill-gotten wealth by past leaders would be the crux of the restitution, she noted that such a step would set the nation on the path of growth and restore the citizens’ confidence in Nigeria and her leadership.
Continuing, she called for further questioning of the former presidential aide who publicly alleged that public office holders have been stealing public fund should be questioned with a view to recovering what such public servants had embezzled.
Ojikutu argued that Buhari’s impeccable character qualified him to embark on the restitution mission, saying “The general assumption is that others have stolen, only President Buhari is assumed not to have soiled his hand with corruption, therefore, he is in a position to call all past leaders who are perceived to have enriched themselves from the coffers of this nation to restore what they had taken”.
Ojikutu who disclosed this in a statement she issued in Lagos on Thursday, urged Buhari to take the bull by the horns now and restore Nigeria to the status where service to the nation would be seen as the shield of honour instead of an avenue for illicit assets acquisition.
“To our president, no one can guarantee tomorrow, whatever he can do to reposition this country should be done now that he is in charge. He should follow the injunctions of the holy books that say that he should fear God but fear no man. He should correct the public impression that whoever goes into leadership of this country or the seat of power is going there to make money,” she said.
Ojikutu also canvassed for a system that would encourage selfless-minded individuals to get involved in leadership and discourage intending looters from getting onboard.
The ex-deputy governor of Lagos contended that past leaders with questionable assets and style of luxurious living had become role models for present and future leaders who aspire for the same; hence the continuation of the vicious circle.
“There must be a way to make public office not to be seen as the place for unearned luxury but as a place for serving the nation where your service is your shield of honour and not the assets you have illicitly acquired.
“The overall impression of most Nigerians was that since past leaders who had stolen from the public treasuries in one way or the other were not questioned on their stewardship, those vying for political offices have the intention to go there and enrich themselves,” she said.
“The re-orientation must start with the present administration under President Buhari, he should not allow anything or anybody to hold him back.”
Ojikutu further charged leaders to abhor materialism, noting that leadership should be seen as a privilege to serve.
“The position that leadership bestows by elevating you above your peers, putting you in unfettered situation of directing the lives of others and imparting on them with good works confers everlasting honour on the holder, if such an individual performs creditably,” she said.
She lamented that the nation can only boast of a few super-rich individual while the majority of the people live in abject poverty and advised the Buhari administration to channel the recovered looted funds to visible projects and infrastructure that would have positive effect on the masses.
“For, instance, the proceeds from the oil had been beneficial to the very few super-rich individuals whereas we have the very poor in our midst. Regrettably, the very money that could be used to turn this nation around is in the hands a few people.”
Ojikutu, however charged Nigerians to give the present administration the needed support in its effort to reposition the country.
“Let’s work together to start rethinking the change, God help us. Buhari needs our support but he should not be afraid of any man, he shouldn’t forget his inaugural speech, ‘I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.”
Ojikutu also appealed to Nigerians to use the festive period to renew their commitment to one another by being their brothers’ keepers.
“As we celebrate, people should be careful and do good to one another, Nigerians should end the culture of impunity and stop inflicting unnecessary pains on others. For instance, why must there be industrial action at the end of each year when the masses are being subjected to untold hardship,” she said.
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