By Olanrewaju Ajao Irked by the refusal of certain government officials to return properties in their possession, President Muhammadu Buhari has commenced plans to recover the such properties.
These government properties include vehicles, buildings, generator sets which are still with some of the immediate past government officials even after leaving office since May.
To recover the items, the President has set up a committee made up civil servants and security agencies to recover unreturned public assets from the political appointees who just left office.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media and Publicity), Garba Shehu confirmed this situation to State House Correspondents in an informal interaction at the weekend.
“That is precisely the case,” he said. “Even here at the Villa, there are cars and other properties belonging to the government which are yet to be returned.”
But, according to him, the Buhari administration would soon begin to demand for the return of these assets. He emphasised that the aim was not to embarrass anyone but to return properties to government.
“The properties belong to the Nigerian people,” he said. “We are not trying to humiliate anyone by asking them to return their cars or houses.”
When asked whether the state and local governments were facing similar challenges with retrieving government property from their predecessors, Shehu said that he was not in a position to confirm or deny this.
He added, however, that he would not be surprised if that was the case, as this attitude of holding on to government property even after leaving office must be a natural outcome of the culture of impunity that has prevailed in Nigeria over the past years of PDP rule.
“But change has come,” he said. “That is why we have to do things differently now.”
He reiterated President Buhari’s commitment to running an austere government that will save the Nigerian people millions in public funds.
“Imagine how much Nigeria will save by retrieving and re-using these government properties instead of purchasing new ones for new government officials,” he said.