The Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Thursday, reiterated its commitment to the fight against corruption in the country ,insisting that it had always been in the vanguard of the fight and that it was not ready to stop now.
The assurance was given by the President of the Association, Mr. Nduka Obaigbena , while receiving the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji. Lai Mohammed , on a courtesy call on the Association at its Secretariat in Maryland , Lagos
” We will help you fight corruption because it is antithetical to development” he stressed
On hand to receive the minister among others , were the Publisher of Vanguard newspapers, Mr. Sam Amuka, Mal. Ismaila Isa, both Life Patrons of the Association, former governor of Ogun State,Chief Segun Osoba, Mr. Ray Ekpu (both past Presidents of the Association) as well as Executive Council members and other members of the Association.
Mr. Obaigbena who is also the Publisher of Thisday newspapers, in welcoming the new vista with which the government is pursuing its anti- corruption drive, noted that more mileage would be garnered and the campaign more enduring, if government fights corruption by building strong institutions.
To achieve greater result, he said it was imperative to first find the root cause of corruption, avoid arbitrariness and follow the rule of law . Also, there was a need to respect the doctrine of innocence under which an accuse is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
It would be unjust and unfair to lump people together, and label everybody thieves, without separating the wheat from the chaff,he added.
In his address, the minister sought the support and cooperation of the media owners, adding that it was not the intention of the government to intimidate anyone or group of persons.
Goverment’s current drive he argued, was motivated by the higher ideal of bringing happiness to the greater number of the citizenry. This he said would remain an illusion without curing the corruption cancer that had eaten deep into the nation.
Mohammed drew a nexus between corruption and development, explaining that it would be difficult to develop infrastructure like roads, railway, schools, etc if government revenues are stolen
Taking on the economy without first fighting corruption, he argued, would be an exercise in futility.
He recalled his earlier pronouncement how the nation could be transformed into an eldorado, providing roads, schools, hospitals etc , if the funds stolen had been judiciously applied.
For instance, he said the total amount Nigeria was seeking to borrow from the World Bank or the African Development Bank or others is $3.5 billion, adding that if only a few who had stolen from the nation’s revenues had returned a fraction or that the issue of the $20 billion had been resolved, the nation would not need to borrow.
Mohammed said in the next few weeks government would be launching a National Re – orientation Campaign tagged ” Change begins with me”. The campaign is to compliment other campaigns already launched such as National Security Awareness Campaign and the National Sensitization Campaign Against Corruption He pleaded for the support of the media for the new campaign
Others on hand to receive the minister included Deputy President and Chairman, Media Trust, Mal. Kabiru A. Yusuf, the General Secretary and Publisher of the Source Magazine, Comfort Obi, President of Leadership Group and former Presidential aspirant, Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah, Assistant Secretary and Publisher of Blue Print newspapers, Alh. Mohammed Idris,Group Managing Director of Champion Newspapers, Mrs Nwadiuto Iheakanwa and President of Tell communications, Mr. Nosa Igiebor
Also present were Mr. Bayo Onanuga, Editor-in-Chief, The News, Gbenga Adefaye, Editor-in-Chief of Vanguard ; Publisher of Daily Times, Mr. Fidelis Anosike, Mr.Ted Iwere, Managing Director of Daily Independent, Mannging Director of New Telegraph, Mrs Funke Egbemode and Deputy Managing Director of The Sun, Mr. Steve Nwosu.