Nigeria’s information minister Frank Nweke says corruption is a worldwide thing that is not limited to Nigeria or Africa. He says President Olusegun Obasanjo has been fighting corruption in an unprecedented way. Nweke rejects any suggestion that corruption is rampant in Nigeria.
“The issue you raised about Nigeria is merely based on perception. We are willing to deal with our own issues. There are countries in the world today who all through their histories have been known as havens of corruption and havens of keeping stolen money. Have you ever heard any of those countries mentioned? I want to take this opportunity to dare every country in the world, the Western nations included, we dare them to have the courage to talk about what is happening in their governments,” Nweke said.
Nweke said corruption is not an African problem, especially with the United Nations planning to hold a convention on corruption. He said President Obasanjo has demonstrated courage in dealing with corruption.
“Let me say very clearly that the Obasanjo administration has confronted corruption in Nigeria in an unprecedented manner and this has seen the prosecution of several public officials as never before. And the situation with the vice president, Atiku Abubakar, was a test case about the political will of the president and his administration to deal with the issue of corruption,” Nweke said.
He said the Nigerian government does not have a problem with militants in the country’s oil-rich Niger Delta region.
“The government of Nigeria under President Obasanjo has continued to address the challenges of development and environment in the Niger Delta area in a way that is unprecedented in Nigerian history. The president has established what we call a council of Niger Delta coastal states. This is also an effort by the administration to inject more funds to bring about development and improve the welfare and wellbeing of the people in Niger Delta,” Nweke said.
Nweke said the situation in the Niger Delta is under control. He appealed to the Voice of America and other Western media not to be used by the militants.
“I also want to encourage the Voice of America, a very important medium in global news determination, to be mindful of their responsibility to the world by not providing the platform for the militants to propagate what are clear illegal activities because to do so will be negating the global commitment to the fight against terrorism and this kind of militant activities,” Nweke said.
The Nigerian information minister said he was not suggesting that journalists should not report the activities of the Niger Delta militants.
“Not at all, but you should also not allow it to be celebrated because to celebrate it would be to provide the platform for illegal activities because if you want to do that, then you can also provide a platform for al Qaeda and the rest of them. And I believe the American government would not permit such a situation,” Nweke said.
Nweke would not say whether he was equating the Niger Delta militants to al Qaeda except to say that they were involved in illegal activities.
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