From ADETUTU FOLASADE-KOYI, Abuja
Senate President Bukola Saraki said yesterday there would be no sacred cows in the fight against corruption, noting that the Eighth Senate will have zero tolerance for graft.
Saraki disclosed this when the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Mr. Ekpo Nta, led some officials to brief him and other Senators on the activities of the anti-graft body.
In a statement by his Media Office, Saraki said the Eighth Senate is totally committed to “the Buhari administration’s zero tolerance for corruption,” adding that he and his colleagues will make the job of the anti-graft agencies easy and successful.
The Senate President also said most of the nation’s present problems were a direct fall-out of the monumental corruption in the system.
He noted that even though the Senate was officially on recess, there are certain issues that cannot wait, especially those concerning getting appropriate briefing on the anti-graft war and what must be done to give bite to the battle.
“It is important for us to meet with you, to let you appreciate where we stand on the issue of corruption and to also listen to you for us to know some of the issues that are challenging to you because the ICPC, EFCC and Code of Conduct Bureau remain the most vital institutions in the fight against corruption today.
“We must look at ways of moving forward because one of the ways that people are going to judge us is how the Eighth Senate was able to fight corruption. What role did we play?
“And I can assure you, if all of us, we believe that our careers and our future rest on how much we do this and we are going to do it and nobody is going to be too big for us not to address and fight. I believe with your support, we can tame corruption and make Nigerians proud of our efforts.
“We want to make the anti-graft war a priority for the Senate because we believe that it has got to a stage where it is truly endangering the entire system and some of the symptoms that we are seeing in the areas where it is affecting our national development is becoming more and more clearer to all of us”, he said.
Earlier, Mr. Nta said tackling graft requires that the structures that support corruption in the system be addressed before going after the “symptoms of corruption.”
“The message we want you to take away today is that the 8th Senate is ready to work with you. The Eighth Senate is not going to provide any haven for anybody. The Eighth Senate wants to work very closely with Mr. President on this very issue and I am sure with the political will, both on the part of the executive and the legislative and the agencies, we might not be able to eradicate it completely, but we can bring corruption to a level that as a country, we can be proud of
“I am very committed on this and so are a lot of my colleagues here. The party is over. Everybody needs to know that we need to sing a new song because without it, we have all seen that we are getting into a crisis and we need to admit it,” Saraki said.
He noted that the cost of corruption in our national life goes beyond financial cost, saying that corruption has manifested in the inability of state governments to pay monthly salaries, education and health sectors not being well funded and other social services collapsing.
He said: “We are seeing it in the state of our schools, the impact on our education. We are seeing it in the state of our health institutions and the impact on maternal and child mortality. We are seeing it in the ever increasing cost of governance, failure of public institutions and infrastructures.
“I am sure that when we all went round to campaign, one of the promises we made to Nigerians was that we have to fight corruption and as people elected by Nigerians, we must keep fulfill that promise and we have taken it upon ourselves that one of the deliverables of the new dispensation is to bring an end to corruption.
“For the Eighth Senate, making corruption a priority is a must and we are committed to that and our goal is to work with you, the EFCC and the Code of Conduct Tribunal to reduce significantly the level of corruption in our system.”