On Tuesday, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo attributed the poor growth of the nation’s health and education sectors to ongoing public money fraud.
This was in line with his statement that efforts made over time to combat corruption would be futile without serious repercussions.
Osinbajo addressed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s (EFCC) public presentation of the Integrity Club and Zero Tolerance Club manuals, which took place at Model Secondary School in Abuja.
The EFCC launched the Integrity Club and Zero Tolerance Club Manuals as a means of instilling the value of integrity and providing parents with guidelines for bringing up more morally responsible Nigerians.
Osinbajo said: “Today when you hear yahoo, yahoo, you will find out that there are people who justify it, saying it is because they don’t have money or it is because they are bored that’s why they are into it. No, that’s not true. There are many poor young people all over the world in different countries.
“The difference is the consequence. If you know that you will be caught and dealt with, you will not do it and you must also recognise that it destroys the reputation of your country and that reputation is important because you want to go abroad to study; because you want to do business abroad and do business with people. If the only thing people have ever heard is that these people are 419. If that’s the only reputation that there is, you are in trouble.
“Every public officer who steals robs the Nigerian society of funds, of health care, and education. Every time a public officer steals money whether the man is from your tribe or from your village or not because people excuse stealing when it comes from their own part of the world, and say it is ok after all it is my brother or sister but never forget that everybody, every public officer that steals money makes it very difficult for you to access good education, good health care, good roads, etc because public money is not for private pockets, it is meant for the public good, it is meant for public infrastructure. So, anybody pocketing public resources does harm to the country and the future and to all of the young people in our country.”
Therefore, he urged Nigerian youths to take up the fight against corruption, emphasizing their important roles in the country’s development.
He said, “So, I want to say to the young people here in particular that you represent the army that must fight corruption, not because it seems like a nice thing to do, no, because your future depends on it.
“The reputation of your country is all that you will have in the next few years. Whatever you want to do, it is that reputation and those who destroy the reputation of the country are not doing you good. They are doing you a great evil. You must ensure that you join the army to fight corruption, to fight dishonesty because it is simply dangerous. Not just for you but for the entire society and for the future.”
Abdurasheed Bawa, the executive chairman of the EFCC, stated during his speech that it was crucial for schoolchildren to get familiar with matters pertaining to economic and financial crimes.
The manuals for the Integrity Club and Zero Tolerance Club, he continued, will not only instill a culture of integrity in young people and children, but also make them aware of the importance of being honest, open, and accountable in all of their transactions.
He said: “The choice of school children and youths as torch-bearers in this important crusade is informed by the fact that they are not ely vulnerable to the effects of economic and financial crimes but retain the potential of breaking with the past years of decadence, to deliver the much cherished destiny of our nation as a corrupt-free society.
“Consequently, we have designed programmes and activities aimed at nurturing a culture of integrity in the formative years of this young population. Two of such programmes are the EFCC Integrity Club for primary schools and the Zero Tolerance Club for tertiary institutions.
“The Clubs are designed not only to improve children and youth understanding and sensitivity to the issues of economic and financial crimes but as a deliberate intervention to imbue them with values which underpin integrity, honesty, transparency and accountability to influence their behavior and character formation.
“Some of the activities through which we have sought to achieve this value orientation include but are not limited to the following rules: plays, visual arts, creative writing, poetry, games, dramas, lectures, workshops, music shows, road walks, etc.”
However, he demanded collaboration with State Education Boards by requiring all the institutions under their control to form EFCC integrity clubs.
Vice Chancellors, Rectors, and Provosts of Universities, Polytechnic Institutes, and Colleges of Education around the nation received partnership calls from him.