Arms Purchase Scandal Goes Beyond Jonathan’s Administration


I wasn’t surprised because we all knew that these things were happening, not just that administration, but right from Obasanjo’s time. If the probe will be taken back to that time, all these head of states should be assembled to give account. It didn’t start with Jonathan’s administration but it is just a system that has been established which Jonathan inherited and continued with it. So if I were the president, I will do my best to collect money from those I can and then established a procedure that everybody will know that, once you embezzle government funds, you will be prosecuted, that is how to end corruption. It is only when you want to focus on the past administration that people begin to read meaning into it as witch-hunting and

 victimization. There is nothing that was done in the administration of Jonathan that was not done in the administrations of Yar’Adua and Obasanjo. The fact remains that a tradition has been established and because it is a system, you passed it from one administration to another. We thank God that a man has come to say no, we cannot continue that system. I also believe that if the man had come when things were buoyant, people around him would have been doing it even if he is honest. I believe that the president is on track and he is trying to establish a system that will be a basis that if anybody falls below that, would have committed an offense. People see the monies as huge sums of money, but during the oil boom, they saw it as small money. Small boys were making billions of dollars in their account throughout, but this is happening at a time when the prices of oil has crash and we are looking for money. Many people who were involved in such acts thought Jonathan will continue and nothing will happen. We must also be cautious because once a person’s name is mention, people see him as being corrupt but it is wrong. People mentioned Tanko Yakassai who collected money from Tony Anenih. Rasheed Ladoja and the rest only collected what they were given for election, are you expect that they should have asked where the government got the money. It is not possible. So such people should not be asked to return their money because it was given for them to do something with it. N260million is nothing to Anenih that you can say he embezzled. Mr. President cannot give him the money for election and he will asked him where he got the money from. If government wants to curb corruption, let them go to the ministries, which is where the real corruption is taking place. They should not limit it to Dasuki alone because people will read meaning to it. People like Raymond Dokpesi should not be blamed for collecting money for advert from NSA because he cannot asked him where he got the money.
What can be done by this National Assembly to address the perennial challenge of poor budget implementation?
It starts with the funds that will be generated. About six trillion has been projected for the implementation of this budget, but where will the funds come from? In most cases, you hear funny budget presentations by federal government and even state governments. Some governors present budgets of N150bn and if you divide that by 12, you might get N12 million every month. These governors do not even have an average monthly revenue allocation of up to N300million, yet they are presenting budgets of N200bn. So the question is, where will they get the money to implement it? The same question goes to the federal government, the six trillion budget is on the high side. Oil has gone down again and as at the time they presented that budget, it was projected on $38 per barrel. Even if it was pegged at $50 per dollar, it still won’t be enough to fund the budget. The Federal Internal Revenue Service and the Customs which generate money cannot generate enough to fund the budget. At the end of the day, 50% of the budget will not be implemented. Another reason why we have poor budget implementation is that, we have a funny economic process that, at the end of each year, the remaining money is gathered and sent back to FG coffers. That started during the tenure of late Yar’Adua. Meanwhile projects are going on that require funds. During the Obasanjo era, the budget could perform till March. The same thing during the time of Jonathan. But sometimes projects are not awarded until around middle of the year and before they will be executed, the year would have come to an end and funds meant for them will be remitted to the federal government at the detriment of these projects. That is one of the reasons we have abandoned projects everywhere. That is the advantage of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) so that even if the budget elapses, the funds will still be paid to the contractors.
Since the inception of the 8th Assembly, motions have been passed yet the executive has not implemented any. Do you think it is a good sign?
This has always been the problem between the executive and legislators since the inception of this democracy in 1999. Sometimes the executive find it difficult to implement motions and resolutions passed by the National Assembly. To me, this is wrong, we don’t have a military administration. This is civilian regime and democracy for that matter, yet presidents right from Olusegun Obasanjo, through Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to Goodluck Jonathan, had the same problem. They hardly implement the resolutions and motions of the National Assembly. I always advice the house to passed good motions and resolutions that will be worthy of implementation. The executive must also know those that are implementable and implement them.
State governors have said that they don’t have funds to pay the minimum wage, do you subscribe to the federal government bailing them out again?
Any state that says it doesn’t have money should think twice. There is no more oil money now for them to share. States must cut down their expenses. Some of the governors still collect about N500m as security votes. I am sure that if they cut down internal spending, then salaries will not be a problem for them. That is one area the Edo State governor has done well. Immediately he came into office, he foresaw today and addressed the issue of tax. Today he is generating money internally to cover up from the short fall of the federation account. The federal government is also blocking leakages which is something we have been fighting at the National Assembly. Government agencies generate money and spend what they generate and still collect the ones allocated for them in the budget. We kept bringing out resolutions on this matter yet the executive refused to do something about it. But I am happy today that with the current situation, the executive are looking for ways to cut expenses. Once this loop holes are block, you will see the Hugh revenue that will be saved.
What do you make of the Biafra agitation in the South/east ?
The agitation of Biafra has been on for a long time, we use to know of Ralph Uwazuruike. It is just that the baton seems to have change hands from him to Nnamdi kanu. Those of us who were growing up during the Biafra war know what it cost the nation, that is the more reason we will call on the federal government to see how they can scale down the agitation before it can escalate to something else like the boko haram. It is a mere agitation that can be addressed. It will only be a problem when the leadership wants to use force. The president can talk to the Igbo leaders to talk to their people.
Politicians in Edo state are warming up to contest the gubernatorial election, and there are rumors that you will contest the governorship too?
I cannot give you a definite answer now. We hear funny names of people, who ordinarily cannot win councilorship election, saying they want to be governor. Majority of those indicating interest don’t have political structures, they are just fortunate to have little money. Apart from one or two of them, none of them has ever held a serious position in government. If I don’t contest, I will work with the person who is going to be governor to ensure that he wins. I know who is going to be the next governor and I will deploy all my political arsenal to ensure that he wins.
There seems to be no love lost between you and your governor, how will you assess his tenure so far?
Immediately the governor conceived the idea of contesting, I stood with him. But since he won, he has been on a war path with me. He came with a vision and I can say that to a reasonable extent, he has tried his best with the reasonable resources available. But I will advise him to relate well with people. What will crown his success is his ability to midwife a process that will produce the best to take over from him. If he doesn’t produce a successor that will continue his vision, then he has not done well. Please like and follow!