Former military Head of State Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd), said on Monday that his regime never experienced anything such as corruption for the nine years it was in power.
Gowon, whose government ruled from 1966 to 1975, made the statement at the 8th Commonwealth Regional Conference for Heads of Anti-corruption Agencies in Africa hosted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Abuja.
The former leader said although some of his ministers were being accused of corruption, the regime made sure that it did not happen.
“During our time, I can assure you we did not know anything of the sort such as corruption. Yes, some of my ministers were being accused of corruption, but I can assure you it was something that we tried to make sure it did not happen especially in the public service. When I left office in 1975, apart from my salary, it was those staff who were with me during the OAU meeting (Kampala, Uganda) that contributed their estacode to make sure that at least I had something to live on after I had been asked to leave office. And I said I wish I had done something to provide for the future, and I think it is that experience that probably made those that came after I left office to make sure they provided for the future.”
Gowon said he was saddened by reports in the media suggesting that all the country’s former Heads of States or Presidents were corrupt, noting that such allegations were denigrating the office. The former military leader, therefore, urged Nigerians to make sure that those elected or appointed into public office were made to be honest, transparent and accountable.
He also challenged participants at the conference to come up with effective measures not only to prevent looting of public funds but also recovery of stolen money, and its use for the people.