Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Buhari not on right path in fighting corruption —Doherty

Buhari not on right path in fighting corruption —Doherty

Engr. Adedeji Doherty is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Lagos State. He was also a governorship aspirant in the 2015 general election. He speaks in this interview with ROBERT AWOKUSE on President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-graft crusade among other issues. Excerpts:

What can you tell us about Nigeria of today since the last general election that saw the emergence of a new political party at the helm of affairs? Well Nigeria of today is Nigeria that we need to build or rebuild. Unfortunately the 2015 elections has created enmity, it has created division, hatred, misunderstanding and other negative things that are telling on all facet of the economy, political, social and as a matter of fact, religion. So we see that Nigeria of today needs a lot of mending, rehabilitation, love for the country to be able to progress. And I hope and we pray to be able to achieve that. There have been allegations and counter allegations that President Muhammadu Buhari is not following the rule of law in his fight against corruption and that it has been lopsided, especially in the 2.1 billion dollars arms deal scam, what is your take? It is very clear that we do not and we cannot tolerate corruption; because corruption only destroys. It does not give room for an equal level playing ground, it does not allow healthy competition, it does not allow the youths to grow; it gives a negative illusion about the country.
But the question is how do we fight this corruption? Is it the way that it is being fought now? Or there is a better way to fight it? Let us look at it from this angle, there is corruption everywhere- in our homes, schools, organisations, civil service, ministries, defence, in all facets to the extent that you might even say democracy supports corruption because most voters are influenced by candidates. If not why do candidates need so much money for elections to win elective offices? So when looking at corruption and you want to fight it you need to fight well so that you can sustain that fight. So the sustenance of an anticorruption drive must be the first thing to attack; that is the ideological background of the people that live in the society where you are trying to fight corruption. For instance students who cheat in the exam hall is corrupt. If you use your position as the president to raise N80 billion for an NGO that your family belongs to, you have used that office for corruption. If you pay a policeman on the road to buy your way, it is corruption. So I think we need to fight corruption by first putting in place strong structure, strong ideology that will carry the youths of today, that will win their minds which is through creation of what they want, an environment that they can thrive, from which they can be hopeful of tomorrow.
That is the environment we need to create for us to start fighting corruption. Now if we want to take this to the Dasukigate, we know the position of Dasuki, we know the worth of the office of National Security Adviser, NSA. First of all the 2.1 billion dollars has been thrown into the media as money for ammunition whereas there is nothing like that. The thing is 2.1 billion dollars the entire amount spent in that particular office within that time. That means NSA office what they spent five or six years period was 2.1 billion dollars and not the money for ammunition as they are widely made us to believe. But it has been thrown in there for the public that the 2.1 billion dollars was for arms purchase whereas it wasn’t, because it is the office of National Security Adviser. For instance there are a lot of things that, that office cannot talk about in public. Are you going to talk about the money given to the president of Ghana to campaign for his election, are you going to talk about how much given to the government of the Republic of Congo to support fight for insurgency?
Are you going to talk about the money given to the Niger Republic to help fight Boko- Haram? Would you include monies given for intelligence in Europe, America or any of those places to keep an eye on enemies of the country? We are talking about the office of the National Security Adviser. So the amount of monies spent there cannot be audited not to say that the presidency in his own wisdom, within the ambit of the law, cannot investigate internally the dealings of that office, especially if a new NSA has come in. now what do you achieve by doing such? The propaganda being done both locally and internationally is it going to expose that to the public? The money that is spent on the ammunition to fight insurgency is now in public discourse, is it supposed to be? But most of the people who have been linked with the money have not denied the fact that they collected the money from Dasuki , and it is not in the purview of the office of the NSA to disburse money. I am not going to speak for the NSA. But what I can say is that you cannot be 100 per cent right being in the office of the NSA or in any other position you are.
There will of course be the idea of give and take. The issue of who got money and who did not is simple. Put the monies together, if you are going to do propaganda for the office of the presidency, the NSA is not supposed to disburse such money. Do you know that the Zika virus in Nigeria is an issue of national security? Do you know the further spread of polio or cholera and Lassa fever are issues of top national security. It depends on what the NSA terms as national risk or a risk to the president or a risk to the former president. For instance it was said that three bullet proof cars were bought for President Buhari.
Those bullet proof cars cost about 400, 000 dollars. What is the reason for buying this for Buhari and not buying for the others? The office says you should buy a car for a former president every one or two years but it does not say you should buy a bullet proof car. But the NSA saw that it will be a national security risk if anything happens to the president like assassination or anything. And that is why after the attack on him in Maiduguri those three vehicles were bought and handed over to him by the Goodluck Jonathan administration. This is because it was an issue of national security risk. So at the end of the day, it is very clear that even those who must have collected money, except those that collected and did not use it, they all collected the money to make sure that the president was secure under the ambit of security risk. Now if at that time former president Jonathan was president, any amount of money spent to keep him as president, to keep his constitutional duties as president of the country is something that the NSA must do till May 29.
So even if it was a national risk for him to spend one billion dollars on water because he can’t find the water in Nigeria, and he thought it was a national risk and he had to spend that one billion dollars on buying imported water, then so be it. The moral of who took money and who shares it is a different issue not for the public space but for the internal space of the presidency because once you have made this mistake, we are civilians, we don’t know the workings of the presidency. Once you have taken this step of exploding the dealing of the NSA on the pages of newspapers, TV and other media platforms, what of when the APC leaves the government and another party takes over with another NSA, would they start digging the dealings of today’s NSA, because for me, the motive for probing can never be achieved? For instance America’ NSA released billions of dollars in cash into Iraq to settle communities to accept the fall of Sadam Hussein. Do you think when Obama came he didn’t see some fraud relating to the disbursement of the money?
Obama saw the fraud but he didn’t investigate it in the open but he did internally within the presidency, the outcome of which nobody outside the presidency knew. You said the last election created enmity, division in Nigeria. Could you be specific on what group, class, region, or party this enmity and division entrenched? Well we all saw what happened in the last general election. Out of all the elections that we have had in this present democratic dispensation, the 2015 elections was the one that campaign of hate was very high. It is like digging a hole by lying; you lie and lie and lie. By the time you dig the hole so deep, you have forgotten that you that is digging will have to come out of the hole you have dug or else you will remain in there. And then you will continue digging because you think you can come out through another route so you will have to keep telling a lie in an effort to liberate yourself. And that is what is happening. The APC has dug a hole so deep that they can’t even come out of it and they will keep telling a lie in order to cover up their deficiencies.
And unfortunate that is what Nigerians will continue listening to; it is going to continue to be lie because if they stop they are going to bury themselves in the hole. They said Boko-Haram has been defeated; that is not true. Their position is that Boko Haram has been defeated technically because they are not holding territories any more? That’s a lie, Boko-Haram are still holding territories; in Borno few communities have been overrun. Unfortunately our journalists are not going into the middle of war like reporters of CNN and Aljazeera go to Syria and Afghanistan to cover wars. Our journalists should go in, stick with the Nigerian force to get first hand information and then report.
You don’t report what you hear. You see our officers dying, they are not dying because they don’t have ammunition, and that is another lie, that the Jonathan administration never bought ammunition, that it was a fraud. Then later on they said they bought ammunition, then later on they said the bullets were expired and backdated and substandard but that is the same ammunition they are using now. Do you think the present administration has the will power to effect the change mantra it promised, in your own assessment looking at the development so far since its swearing-in? Change is the only constant thing in life. When you talk about change, what change are we talking about? Change from what to what; what do you want to change? Economically, socially, politically, ideologically, financially, what do you want to change?
Frankly speaking what is the change so far; economically, financially, morally, what is the change so far? Have we seen anything? Have you gotten the one day per meal? Have you gotten the 25 million jobs they promised? Take the promises made and match them with actuality, is there any balance? I wouldn’t want to talk from opposition point of view. I want to take the entire political class as one body, PDP, APC, whichever party, if politicians do not change their ideology, irrespective of their party affiliation, and put the cap of service, then we cannot move forward as a country. The politicians must create the change. It is not for APC to create the change through a change in ideology, starting from ourselves. What is the difference between party A and Party B. APC wants to build good roads, PDP wants to build good roads; APC wants to provide good housing PDP wants to do same; APC wants to provide good health facilities, PDP wants to do the same; APC wants to create good financial environment and strong naira, PDP wants to create good financial environment too.
So what is the difference? What are they selling? They are selling the same product. You noted that in checkmating corruption there must be good structure in place. The Jonathan administration was said to be characterized by the highest level of corruption. Does it mean there was no proper structure or institution in place to checkmate the menace? Let me tell you where change came from; from Obasanjo, PDP; Yar’Adua, PDP; Jonathan, PDP. Right from Obasanjo coming in, which is one of the reasons why I came into politics, Obasanjo had already noted corruption was something he had to fight, power is something he must fight; when he was tackling power, he spent a lot of money.
He even brought someone from the opposition party, Bola Ige to be minister of power so that the problem would be solved. He also started the fight on corruption by bringing RIbadu, having created EFCC. The two anti-corruption agencies we have today, EFCC and ICPC were created by PDP. But did they use them? Where is Ibori today? What happed to Alamiesieagha before he later died recently. Fayose still has a court case and some other PDP governors. Who has fought corruption in this country? It is PDP. Even to the extent that a PDP chieftain was locked in jail. Adolph Hitler said when you continue to lie over and over again, at a particular time that lie becomes a reality.
When you open the paper you find PDP is corrupt; on your radio you hear PDP is corrupt; on the TV, PDP is corrupt; billboards, PDP is corrupt. In the long run people believe what is continuously being fed to them. People have been made to believe that corruption was barely fought by past administration and that it is the present government that is actually checkmating the menace, whereas they have not even started because if you do not fight corruption in your home first then you have not started at all. It is said that charity begins at home. You should clean your home first. Do you think the international community does not see an Amaechi, a Fayemi, a Fashola and then you want to collect 5 billion dollars while you also lament that the country is corrupt. Won’t they withdraw from helping us because they have already been fed by the president that the country is corrupt hence giving a financial assistance will be foolishness? If I was the bank I won’t give you the money either. I am not saying some of these people are not corrupt, but what we need is a change in ideology. For instance we have been talking about the Treasury Single Account, TSA for a long time even during the Jonathan administration. In my stand, I said we should bring in a ministry of treasury so that everybody is accountable.
You cannot make CBN accountable for a single treasury account. It is corruption. You cannot make a single account for the entire nation into the CBN. That is corruption in the highest level. What we need is a treasury ministry that will be subjected to the audit that will know all the areas of income of the nation and that is what will be the rallying point for all revenue generating arms of government. They do not spend money in the treasury ministry, they only take money and they work with CBN to either disburse and also peg dollar for dollar, naira for naira. The CBN should not be the one to determine what the rates are. It should be a collective effort among the ministry of budget and economic planning, the treasury ministry, CBN and the ministry of finance. These are the people that are supposed to come together. These are the macro – economic brain of the nation. So in retrospect, it is clear that we are not on the right path to recovery, we are not on the right path in fighting corruption and we are not in the right path in moving Nigeria forward.
Source: National Mirror

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