By Salisu Sani-Idris
President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday in Abuja decried the labeling and blanket stereotyping of Nigeria as a country with the prevalence of cybercrime and other forms of corrupt practices.
Tinubu, represented by Vice-President Kashim Shettima, made the statement at a public engagement on Youth, Religion and the Fight Against Corruption, organised by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the engagement is a multi-dimensional stakeholders’ event for those fighting against economic and financial crimes.
It also featured the launching of the Inter-faith Manual and Fraud Risk Assessment Project for the Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Tinubu said that the stereotyping of Nigerians undermined the majority of the citizens to maintain the principles of integrity and diligence.
He regretted that over the years, the entire Nigerian populace had been linked with internet crimes without statistical proof.
He said the development was out of tune with the way of life of a typical Nigerian citizen.
He noted that on the contrary, “Nigerians are meticulous, authentic citizens who have been making significant contributions to innumerable fields of endeavours around the world.
“Over the decades, Nigerians have been victims of mislabelling. Such gross misrepresentation fails to reflect the true essence of our diverse and resilient nation.
“The association of internet crimes with the entire Nigerian populace lacks statistical evidence and does not align with the sociology of everyday Nigerians.
“Our nation comprises hardworking, honest citizens who contribute significantly to various fields globally, from Artificial Intelligence to medicine.”
Tinubu said “Nigeria rejects blanket stereotyping that undermines the majority upholding principles of integrity and diligence.
“We must face the fact that we function in an interconnected world where cybercrimes have evolved into a global phenomenon.
“This poses a threat not only to our nation but to the entire world.”
Delivering his speech titled, “Youth, Religion, and Our Battle Against Corruption: A Call to Action”, Tinubu lauded the EFCC for remaining a moral compass, persistently rousing the nation’s conscience.
The President said that through its operations, EFCC remained vocal in “telling the world that Nigeria is neither complicit nor complacent in confronting the menace of corruption”.
He underscored the urgency of combating internet crimes and neutralising the threat caused by other forms of corruption head-on.
The Nigerian leader assured the anti-graft agency of the government’s support in its quest to combat the digital offenses.
“We must recognise that the commission’s lawful efforts to bring fraudsters to book are imperative for the overall well-being of our society.
“The government is aware that our ambitious goal of eradicating internet offenses and corruption demands an atmosphere steeped in trust and integrity.
“We must foster open communication channels and ensure that law enforcement actions align with justice and accountability,” he added.
The President reminded the Nigerian youths that there were abundant opportunities for lawful enterprises, both within and outside the shores of the country.
This, he said was the reason the Federal Government took steps to establish a Students Loan Board, to address the financial needs of students.
“This initiative aims not only to alleviate financial burdens but also to disincentivize criminality by offering a tangible alternative.
“Our message to the youth is clear: the horizon is wide, and opportunities abound across various sectors.
“Seize these prospects, embark on lawful enterprises and let your talents shine.
“The government encourages you to leverage these opportunities, exhibit your capabilities across all sectors and contribute to the prosperity of our great nation.”
Tinubu commended the efforts of the EFCC in tackling corruption through the Inter-Faith and Fraud Risk Assessment Projects.
He said that the initiative recognised the potential of religion as a tool for ethical reformation and the importance of engaging diverse faith communities in the fight against corruption.
“Simultaneously, this initiative addresses vulnerabilities within government agencies and acknowledges the critical need to fortify these institutions against corrupt practices.
“Our nation is deeply rooted in religious values, and it is crucial to acknowledge that both Christianity and Islam vehemently condemn corruption.
“With these profound teachings in mind, I urge our revered religious leaders to demonstrate a pillar of guidance,” he added.
Earlier, the Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), emphasised the significance of paying more attention to preventive measures in the renewed fight against corruption.
He urged religious leaders, traditional rulers, heads of tertiary institutions and youth groups to take ownership of the reinvigorated anti-corruption crusade under the Tinubu administration.
In attendance were traditional and spiritual leaders, including the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Sa’ad Abubakar; Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II; the president of CAN, Archbishop, Daniel Okoh and Bishop John Praise.
Also in attendance were the Chairman, Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption, Sen. Emmanuel Udende, Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Sen. Abubakar Bagudu and Prof. Lilian Salami, Chairperson of the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities and Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin.
The Chairman of Channels TV, Mr John Momoh; Former Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola; JAMB Registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede and some heads of government agencies and parastatals, were also in attendance. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Isaac Aregbesola