We are in a countdown to Mohammedu Buhari’s first one hundred days in office as President, do you really think that he is winning the war against corruption which was the fulcrum of his campaign strategy prior to the last elections?
Without mincing words, Buhari is already winning the war against corruption. As you know; corruption is not a war you fight with guns or sophisticated modern warfare. It is a war you must fight with some degree of intelligence. The intelligence in this case is based on the amount of information that you have at your disposal. So far one can say that the war is being won with steady progression.
This is based also on the premise that when you have useful information on a subject matter, the job is almost half done. The information that is so far available to government on looted funds and misappropriation is enough to say that the war is half won. What is left is for this information to be collated along the line of the thought of the President in fulfillment of his promise to Nigerians that he would rid the country of corruption. He promised to rearrange the country, re-orientate the people and prepare their minds to realize that this is a time for change. Change means that we must begin with attitudinal transformation. But one good thing is that President Buhari has set the framework for that change.
There is no doubt that when you are set out to do a program like this there must be obstacles. Those things are just natural. We have noticed that those who challenged the approach to the recovery of looted funds are those who may have skeleton in their cupboard. These are the people who believe that if Buhari continues the way he is going in the recovery of those stolen funds, it will practically expose their evil deeds. Those are the only people who are afraid of the wind of change that is blowing across the country now. I don’t believe in the one hundred days syndrome. The President has four years and another four according to our constitution, if he so desires to continue, so why should anybody pin down 100 days as a yardstick to measure his achievement! I don’t believe in that. We should wait for him to make at least two years and then we can begin to assess him base on his performance for that period. Be that as it may, I am confident that he will make a great impact in his first 100 days.
Most Nigerians particularly the PDP are of the view that Buhari and his APC party is engaging in a witch hunting by adopting selective approach to the fight against corruption; do you agree with that?
It is absolutely wrong for anybody to say that. The President said that he was not going to go beyond the past administration in his fight against corruption. The reason is that the time we are now and that time before the past administration can never be the same in terms of technological advancement. There is no way you can have all the needed documents of the previous governments before the immediate past. I think that this must have informed the President to restrict himself to the past administration. Matters relating to fraud and corruption in Nigeria in the past six years are still very fresh. It was not Buhari that brought the issue of none remittance of about US20Billion that is missing.
But he was able to hear about that like every other Nigerian. He may not have had any other information prior to this time. Nigerians are familiar with the character of the President given the progress that was recorded when he came the first time as a Head of State, we still have the memory of the type of person that he is. He is passionate about what he wants to do and I can say he is patriotic. He is doing exactly what he promised to do. Some of those who have been invited to answer questions on what happened with the funds entrusted to them are those who were appointed into a particular office.
They must therefore explain how they appropriated the funds allocated to them. These people are the PDP members and why is it so? That is simply because PDP was in power in the past government and there is no way anybody will now go and invite somebody in another political party to answer for what he was not part of just to balance the equation that it is not just PDP members that are being probed. It does not make any sense to me. In the last sixteen years when PDP held sway in Nigeria, the only none PDP person given appointment in Nigeria was Senator Ben Obi who was appointed Presidential Adviser on Inter-Party Affairs. He did not even stay long when he defected to PDP. The truth of the matter is that the President is not engaging in any selective investigation. A report handed over to the President by the past administration showed that twenty-eight ministries and MDAs owed over N4trillion debt they could not pay. We hear that the handover note did not even show the job they did with that money or how far they went with the projects. It did not show how much they paid. If you received that kind of report, what would you do? Would you have thrown such a document away? I guess no. If this amount of money is available at the moment, it is almost enough to develop the entire Niger Delta region.
President Buhari is no doubt being surrounded by people who have been accused of sleaze at several times, do you also see him looking inward to expose his own corrupt men working in his government?
If President Buhari were selective in the corruption crusade as some of you are saying, some top APC members would not have found themselves being haunted by the EFCC. You know as much as I do that EFCC is currently prosecuting some APC stalwarts in the court. If Buhari were partial, he would have stopped the investigation. But he has not done that because he is a man of integrity and honour. I don’t like to drop names, but let me say here that if anybody has information about any corrupt person, let him or her make it available to the law enforcement agents. What I know right now is that Buhari is working according to the level of information that is at his disposal.
The new DSS director has been accused by the PDP of being a blood relation of President Buhari and that he is being used to intimidate the PDP states; what is your take on this?
That is not correct. APC has already reacted on that but I want to say that there is no iota of truth in that wild allegation. If we are serious in the war against corruption, we should not bother ourselves about who is fighting that war so far as we get the result at the end of the day. I am not always comfortable when we continue to compare ourselves with such advance countries like America and others. But because we are running presidential democracy, which was borrowed, from America, then we must have to copy some certain things from them also. Robert Kennedy was a brother to President John Kennedy. John appointed his brother, Robert the Attorney General of the United States. As AG, Robert was in charge of the FBI and other security outfits in the United States. It should be recalled also that Robert was in the same political party with his President brother. They were all Democrats. I fail to understand therefore why there should be so much hues and cries about the appointment of Daura as the DG of DSS. What should rather interest Nigerians is who has the capacity to do the job.
It does not also bother you that President Buhari has so far shown ethnic bias in the appointment he has made with the north enjoying the greater portion of it?
There is no appointment so far. There is a difference between cabinet appointment and engagement of personal aides. For you to become a minster now you will definitely engage the services of other people like the driver, cleaner, secretary, cook and many more. You may even take your blood brother as your SA, which is based on trust and confidence. Anybody who says that Buhari is lopsided in his appointment so far made is just being petty
Few days ago; APC organized a lavished reception for former governor of Rivers state; Rotimi Amaechii, do you sense as a sign of something in the offing?
I think that when somebody has done his assignment diligently, the natural progression is to show appreciation. In my local proverb, we say that if you show gratitude for what has been done for you, the doer will be compelled to do more. The various speeches made at the reception was evident that both the APC as a party and the direct beneficiaries of Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi’s efforts in delivering the party and Nigeria from the shackles of oppressive former ruling party as the director general of the Mohammedu Buhari campaign is instructive of the young man’s sagacity and capacity and exceptional tenacity in marching words with action.
From the Vice -President; Professor Yemi Osinbajo; the wife of the President; Hajia Aisha Buhari; the national chairman of APC; John Odigie- Oyegun; governor El-Rufai of Kaduna state; governors of Plateau and his counterpart from Bauchi; Mohammed Abubakar and many other prominent members of the party is an indication that Amaechi does not only justified the confidence reposed on him by the APC to lead its Presidential campaign but also made the down trodden; oppressed Nigerians for 16 years including his people of Ikwerreland, Rivers people and the south-south are proud that he is certainly their son they should be well pleased. Both El- Rufai and the former governor of Bayelsa state, Timipre Sylva could not hold back their degree of gratitude when they told the audience at the capacity full International conference center in Abuja that without Amaechi’s courage and patriotism; there may not have been what is proudly referred today as APC.
I was told that the reception was organized by APC members under the aegis of committee of friends but the presence of the Vice- President; wife of the President and the chairman of the party among numerous others including the majority leader of the House of Representatives simply imply that Amaechi’s presence in APC is welcomed and appreciated. To answer whether the reception heralds more appreciation to come, I can only say that when you over work, you also over eat.
I don’t know what the APC government at the center will give to Amaechi that can adequately compensate for the risk; investment of his time and indeed commitment he demonstrated when most persons chickened out. The appreciation already shown indicates that he is not likely to regret his efforts as this will be the only way others will appreciate that commitment and hard work pays. Although former Governor Amaechi was said to have refused to accept all the gratitude alone but said it was a team work and the benefit of having a good product like Mohammedu Bahuri as a candidate and dedicated the honor done him to God Almighty and everybody that worked for the elections. That is my take on that.
-Barrister Emeh Glory Emeh, is a former Commissioner for Transport in Rivers State in the former Governor Peter Odili’s administration. He spoke with some newsmen in Port Harcourt, Rivers State during the weekend. Our correspondent, Tony Ita Etim, was there. Excerpt: