“Everything we had in the country belonged to the nation, belonged to the people and we must not touch anything. We made sure nothing like corruption happened, especially in the civil service”, former Nigerian military Head of State, Yakubu Gowon said.
Gowon made the comments at the 8th Annual General Meeting and Conference of Heads of Anti-corruption Agencies in Commonwealth Africa.
Speaking this week, Gowon says he feels really bad whenever anyone says all past Nigerian leaders were corrupt, because he wasn’t.
“It is sad to read reports that all former Heads of State are thieves. During our time, we did not know anything like corruption. Some of my ministers were accused of corruption but we did not allow it to get into the public service. After I left office, apart from my salary, it was the staff that contributed their estacode so that I have something to live on.
“During our time, we did not know that thing (corruption). We were afraid of being exposed”, Gowon said.
Professor Itse Sagay who is the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) says corruption was just as pervasive in the Gowon era.
“He is exaggerating”, Sagay told Vanguard. “If I recall, when the Murtala/Obasanjo regime took over government, it was partially based on corruption. Out of the 12 military governors, 10 were found guilty. Maybe corruption was less than it has become, but obviously there was corruption because 10 of the governors had their properties seized. So, I think he exaggerated a little bit”.