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Last Updated: Friday, 12 October 2007, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Nigeria leader says honesty pays
Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua
Mr Yar'Adua said Nigeria needs God-fearing, honest politicians
Nigeria's President Umaru Yar'Adua says eradicating corruption is the key to ending poverty in his country.

Mr Yar'Adua told the BBC that all Nigerians need to become honest, trustworthy and hard-working people.

He stressed that politicans must start to set a good example because "whatever leaders do, is what their subjects do".

On Tuesday, the New York-based Human Rights Watch issued a report which said politics in Nigeria was so corrupt that it resembled criminal activity.

The HRW report noted that President Yar'Adua has promised to uphold the rule of law but said there needed to be real reforms to make the government accountable and to end the culture of impunity.

Setting an example

President Yar'Adua told the BBC's Hausa Service that it was vital that the country's political leaders set an example to all by leading honest lives and distancing themselves from unlawful acts.

If leaders... distance themselves from any unlawful acts - the people they govern will copy them and do the same
President Umaru Yar'Adua

"I want Nigeria to be a country with people who fear God; a country whose citizens obey the rule of law and due process; a country where the citizens shun evil acts and do the right things to promote peace in Nigeria and the world at large."

A series of recent setbacks - and what appears to be political in-fighting between the attorney-general's office and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission - has led several commentators to question the administration's commitment to tackling grand corruption.

But in his interview with the BBC, President Yar'Adua re-emphasised that to lift all Nigerians from poverty it was essential for everyone, especially holders of political office, to adopt the highest standards of behaviour.

"If leaders fear God, be honest, sincere, hard-working, do the right thing and distance themselves from any unlawful acts - the people they govern will copy them and do the same."

Mr Yar'Adua was elected in April in what international monitors said was a deeply flawed process, with high levels of fraud and violence.

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