Bush, Blair warn against looting treasury

Former United States (US) President George Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday warned the nation’s leaders against looting the treasury, describing such action as the least efficient way of doing things. Speaking at the Thisday Nigeria-at-50 Awards in Abuja, with the theme: “Nigeria: The next 50 years”, they said Nigeia’s development is important to Africa’s development.

According to them, transparency, accountability and war against corruption are ingredients for good governance. 

Bush said: ‘’Stealing public money is not good governance. When leaders steal from the people that is bad governance, they ought to be in jail.” 

Blair said: “Corruption is wrong. It is the least efficient way of doing things, and it is important that the next election must be free and fair and nobody should try to interfere’’. 

They said the interest of America and Britain in Nigeria during their tenure was spurred by poor indices of development, especially health, debt burden and capacity building. 

Bush said he was concerned by statistics of HIV/AIDS when he was in office. 

Some 50,000 infected persons, he said, had access to anti-retroviral drugs, but by the time he left office it has increased to over two million. 

Both leaders argued against protectionism and canvassed for free trade. They agreed that agriculture subsidies in the developed nations hamper the potential of African farmers for exports. 

On press freedom, they said a vibrant and healthy press is good for societal development and democracy. 

“That the freedom of the press must be exercised with some responsibility, and that stories must be factual to make the right impact and must be devoid of sensationalism’’, they said. 

On women empowerment, Bush and Blair recalled having strong women around them when they were in government.

Human capital development, they said, is the greatest resource of a nation, adding that discrimination against women is a colossal waste of human resources.

Blair noted: “It is wrong and stupid. If you want a tough job done get a woman to do it”.

They explained their countries’ sensitivity to terrorism against the background of the September 11 attack in New York.

Bush said, we are still very nervous after 9/11. Both leaders spoke on Nigeria’s listing as a country of interest.

Bush sympathised with Nigeria, saying that the act of one man has destroyed the reputation of many people. He added that the US Congress is usually concerned about such matters.They asked the Federal Government to liaise with the American administration in the area information sharing and the issue of being put on the list of country of interest so that it can be addressed.


Blair said one way to defeat terrorism is to show that people of different faiths can live together and that people should not disrespect each other’s religion.