Daily Champion (Lagos)

16 May 2005

Nigeria: Anti-Graft War: No Sacred Cows - Obasanjo

Owerri — PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo over the weekend reiterated government's commitment to eradicate corruption in the country, warning that there are no sacred cows in the war against the vice.

Speaking through Education Minister, Senator Liyel Imoke at the 17th Convocation ceremony of Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), the President urged Nigerians to partner with his administration in stamping out the menace.

He further disclosed that government would handover management of hostels in federal universities to estate managers despite opposition to the move in some quarters.

He stated that fighting corruption is part of his government's reform agenda that has been encapsulated in the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS).

He urged all patriotic Nigerians to read the document thoroughly to be part of the process of reform and repositioning of Nigeria for peace, harmony, stability, growth, development and democracy.

"Corruption is anti-development, anti stability, anti-peace and anti-progress. Short term benefit of corruption often gives way to endless pains, instability, conflict and retrogression. For this administration, our commitment to fighting corruption is total and I once again appeal for your support," he stated.

He said the contributions of the former Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jude Njoku to the growth and development of the university must be acknowledged by all, noting however that the federal government under his leadership is waging a relentless war against corruption in all its ramifications and there are no sacred cows.

President Obasanjo also disclosed that the Federal Government is determined to hand over management of students hostels to estate managers so as to free the limited resources of government for use in providing academic facilities for effective teaching and learning.

This, he said, will also provide choices for students and encourage competition in quality service delivery with value for money.

He charged administrators of universities to engage in full consultations with all stake holders in the university system particularly the students and their parents before full implementation of the programme.

He said that the reports of the 2004 visitation panel to Federal Universities are being studied and appropriate white paper will be issued for implementation by the various governing councils.

In his own speech, acting Vice Chancellor of the University Professor Innocent Ogwude stated that FUTO would continue to uphold and sustain its culture of excellence and stability, peaceful coexistence hard work and good reputation.

He, however, pointed out that one recent problem confronting the university is large scale encroachment on its land by some neighbouring communities and appealed to them to give peace a chance, noting that the university authorities have no powers to cede any portion of the university land to any community.

Highlight of the convocation ceremony was the award of honourary doctorate degrees to six distinguish Nigerians including Director General of NAFDAC Dr. Dora Akunyili, Governor Achike Udenwa, Minister of Works Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, Managing Director of Oceanic Bank Chief Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Engr. Ernest Ndukwe and Emir of Kano Alhaji (Dr.) Ado Bayero.

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