Dozens of Nigerian officials and state employees have allegedly stolen $6.8bn (£4.7bn; N1.34tr) from public funds during the previous administration between 2006 and 2013, the country's minister of information, Lai Mohammed, has revealed. Mohammed said the stolen funds, representing more than a quarter of the 2015's national budget, could have been used to build one new hospital in each state of the country – 36 in total.
The minister made the comment as he launched what he calls a "sensitisation campaign" against corruption, which is widespread in Nigeria. During a press conference in Abuja yesterday (18 January 2016), Mohammed urged the media to support the campaign, which he defined as a "patriotic call to duty".
He said, according to a statement by the All Progressive Congress party: "We want the media to once again lead the campaign to sensitise Nigerians to take possession of another war – the war against corruption. Using World Bank Rates and Costs, one third of the stolen funds could have provided 635.18 kilometres of road; built 36 ultra-modern hospitals – that is one ultra-modern hospital per state; built 183 schools; educated 3,974 children from primary to tertiary level at 25.24 million per child; and built 20,062 units of 2-bedroom houses."
"This is the money that a few people, just 55 in number, allegedly stole within a period of just eight years. And instead of a national outrage, all we hear are these nonsensical statements that the government is fighting only the opposition, or that the government is engaging in vendetta."
President Muhammadu Buhari, who won March presidential election defeating incumbent leader Goodluck Jonathan, has vowed his government would end corruption. The leader ordered an investigation into arm procurement during the previous administration that resulted in the arrest of high-profile officials accused of having stolen the equivalent of billions of dollars aimed at the fight against Boko Haram terrorists.
Buhari also confirmed that former security adviser Sambo Dasuki – charged with diverting $2bn funds aimed for the anti-Boko haram fight – would remain in jail in spite of the fact that courts ruled in favour of his bail. In December, Dasuki was charged with 19 counts of money laundering and criminal breach of trust for the equivalent of £68.2m. He pleaded innocent and claimed the accusations were politically motivated. Some have alleged that charges against Dasuki were part of an alleged vendetta by Buhari for the 1985 coup that resulted in his overthrow.