By Tunde Oguntola and Nzor Ernest, Abuja –
The United Kingdom has disclosed that about $32 billion was lost to corruption during the six-year administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Head of Office of UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) Nigeria, Debbie Palmer, stated this at the expression undergraduate debates challenge to celebrate this year’s international anti-corruption day.
The event was organised by Youngstars Foundation Initiative, a non-governmental organisation, in Abuja.
Palmer said the huge amount represented 16 per cent of the previous government’s resources that could have been channeled to development.
She noted that millions of dollars tied up in legal challenges remained in other countries.
Palmer said, “An independent report estimates that up to $32 billion was lost to corruption under the previous government. This is around 15% of state resources during the period and could well be an under-estimate. So, the estimate is that nearly 16 per cent of the previous government’s money was lost to corruption.
“That is a staggering amount of money. And that is money that is lost to all of you and to your future. That is why we all should care about corruption. Millions of dollars also remain in other jurisdictions tied up in legal challenges”.
Palmer observed that youths in the country have a critical role to play in President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-graft fight.
She added that the UK is committed to supporting Nigeria to tackle corruption in all its various forms through its anti-corruption programme in Nigeria.
Her words: “Youths have a critical role to play in all these areas as Africa’s and agents of change because the youths are the future. Young people are our future. That’s why it is important to engage with you to be able to hear your views about corruption because you are our future.
“The UK is committed to supporting Nigeria to tackle corruption in all its various forms and through our anti-corruption programme in Nigeria. We have started delivering a range of support to both government and civil society organisations.
“The future of this country matter to youth and the real cost of corruption will be felt more severely in future years. It will cost you money. It will cost you freedoms, it will cost you economic opportunities and so you should care.
“Our anti-corruption programme aims to strengthen the demands of groups and individuals like you in pressing for societal change and also government in responding to such demands through stronger systems and sanctions.
In his remarks, chairman, board of directors of Youngstars Development Initiative, Bulus Dabit, noted that corruption in public sector has drawn Nigeria backwards.
“Our infrastructural deficit is as a result of corruption in the society. Corruption in the public sector is the one that is worrisome because the public sector is the driver of the economy”, he said.
On his part, the president of Youngstars Development Initiative, Kingsley Bangwell, called for adequate reforms in the public sector.