President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday urged Nigerians to stop their lamentation over its poor standing among its contemporaries.
He said with the cooperation of all, his government could make significant change that could reposition Nigeria within four years.
Jonathan spoke shortly after swearing in the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, Mr. Ekpo Nta, and five new permanent secretaries at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Nta has been occupying the office in acting capacity since November 29, 2011. His swearing-in as the substantive chairman was based on his confirmation by the Senate on September 28, 2012.
The new permanent secretaries are Ambassador John Gana (Niger), Mr. John Jegede (Ekiti), Dr. James Ogbewu (Imo), Ambassador Sanni Bala (Katsina) and Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan (Kogi).
The President admitted that Nigeria could do better as a nation than what is currently obtainable.
He said, “People talk about the 60s when Nigeria was on the same level with some countries. I think we should stop this lamentation.
“It does not take more than 10 years to change a nation from what others have done.
“Even within four years, we can make significant change to reposition Nigeria.”
He charged the appointees with seeing their new positions as a gift from God for service to humanity, adding that they must use the opportunity to serve Nigerians faithfully.
Identifying corruption as one of the stumbling blocks to the nation’s development, Jonathan said all must be ready to fight the cankerworm.
He said all segments of the society should learn to isolate corrupt people in order to discourage fraudulent practices.
He said, “I use this opportunity to plead with all Nigerians. For us really to confront corruption the way we want to, everybody must be involved. All arms of government: the executive, judiciary, the parliament and all individuals, all corporate bodies including nongovernmental, civil Society organisations, community and even faith-based organisations must be involved.
“If people donate money to you and you are not sure of the source, please return it.
“If we must fight corruption, all of us must frown on it. You should not give a chieftaincy title to somebody whose source of income you don’t know, that is my thinking, that is my belief.
“If you do that, you are encouraging that person to be corrupt. So I believe if all Nigerians work together, we will be able to reduce corruption.”
The President promised the ICPC boss that he would not interfere in the activities of the commission.
Jonathan urged the permanent secretaries to avoid mistakes in their job, saying such cost government a lot.
He said the nation was currently weighed down by huge judgment debt awarded against it because of some officials who did not do their jobs well.
He however warned that while trying to ensure that they don’t make mistakes, the officials must also make sure that the nation is not static.
He said since Nigeria belongs to all, all stakeholders must make sure that the nation gets to where its contemporaries are.