Kassim Afegbua, who defected from All Progressives Congress APC) is the spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Council. In this interview with Dr SAMUEL IBIYEMI; Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, Nigerian NewsDirect and IKENNA OMEJE, he speaks on Tradermoni, corruption, poverty, insecurity, 2019 Budget Appropriation, failures of the APC-led federal government, Atiku Abubakar’s campaign blueprint and the way forward for the country. Excerpts:
Compliment of the season. What do you think about TraderMoni?
Thank you very much for the opportunity for this interview. I must commend you and NewDirect for staying afloat in the face of very terrible ,excruciating economic condition we have found ourselves as a result of the mis-governance of this present administration and the failings of leadership in this government. To sustain a tabloid of this nature of our national newspaper, it takes more than digging beneath the water. From the bottom of my heart, I want to commend you, because you are an employer of labour and you are also helping families to make a living by this your platform and that is why I appreciate your tenacity of purpose, your resourcefulness and your ability to sustain the drive and passion for a long time.
Having said that, talking about TraderMoni, some of us who have our background in All Progressives Congress ( APC), as members; who fought and campaigned vigorously for the emergence of Buhari as president in 2015, feel that, what we ought to have done as members of APC in our manifesto was not what was being done when we were sworn into office. This is because some of us cannot stay in APC and be lamenting, that was why I personally decided to take an exit.
Now having taken an exit, I am now sitting down taking a critical look at what APC is doing with respect to TraderMoni- that is the house of fraud and I will give you very simple analysis. When you hear them share money, you ask yourself, it is either that the vice president has become so jobless and not being given the opportunity to put his intellect, his resourcefulness to play that he now finds the time to go to market square or the government generally lacks focus and does not know what to do in terms of bailing out the ordinary Nigerian from poverty.
And, it is easier to locate Vice President Osinbajo in the market than to see him in the office. A professor of his standing and quality ought to be sitting down with other eggheads to come up with lasting solutions to the myriad of problems confronting us as a nation. A professor of his standing ought to be sitting down in the laboratory of leadership to work out modalities that will help to provide answers to the nagging questions of insecurity, of poor economy, other than just going to the streets in a popularity context to be sharing one ridiculous TraderMoni.
Let me give you an example why TraderMoni is a fraud. Government must set its priority right first. Secondly, if the government has recovered $322 million Abacha loot, the expectation will be that- under a transparent government that they claimed to be- we have N117 billion Abacha loot with us based on the new exchange rate. This is how we want to implement it. The moment you say you are doing TraderMoni, monitoring becomes a problem, beneficiaries become a problem; because my community, Okpella, is made up of over one hundred and ten thousand persons. I go home regularly, hold meetings with my people and I keep asking our women and traders, who among them has benefitted from TraderMoni – not a single person. Even last week, I went home, I still asked the question- none of them.
I have a group that I coordinate called Our Mumu Don Do – a group at the local level and I keep asking them. None of them has indicated to be a beneficiary of TraderMoni. Now, if they have not indicated and they have not shown evidence that they are the beneficiaries of this TraderMoni, how would you want me to believe that TraderMoni model is a resource to take out the rural traders from poverty? That is one. Secondly, they will give you different figures of how much has been released so far. Festus Keyamo, will give you a different figure, Laolu Akande; the spokesman to the vice president, will give you a different figure and the vice president, give a different figure. That means, Tradermoni is subject to abuse because monitoring has become a problem. They can’t track it. They don’t know how it is. To that extent , they are just running their business at their whims and caprices. We have seen the sample of that form. There is provision for PVC number in it. It is all about party affiliation, if not why is it shrouded in secrecy if they don’t have anything to hide?
In Osun State, N10,000 was supposed to be given and some people came out to say N8,000 got to them, because there is a middleman who will be collecting N2,000. You understand? Look at the thinking of the government. You go to market to borrow Suku Fund of N100 billion while you had N117 billion Abacha recovered loot in treasury and plunge us into further debt. That to me is misplaced priority. If I were to be in government and I have opportunity of this kind of resource $322 million (N117 billion), how I will use it is clear. I will address the nation. “Fellow country men and women, we have received N117 billion Abacha loot. If we didn’t get this money, it would have been a loss. Now we got it back, it’s a surplus. We have challenges and the responsibility of the government is to create the enabling environment.
For the past four years, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway has been suffering the completion of the project. I have spoken to the contractor and he said that N15 billion will finish it. From that money, I will do a proto cheque. Nigerians if after twelve months that road is not completed, hold this contractor responsible not us. I am going to make full commitment of that money to him. Abuja-Minna road, we have asked the contractor, he said N8 billion will finish it . I will carry that money and distribute it to the last whole number. If you do that, if you are travelling on the road and the roads are bad, you are not going to hold the government accountable, Nigerians will face that contractor”.The APC didn’t do that. They said that they want to share the money to Nigerians. Go and look at the graph of that TraderMoni. The graph favours the north. And not just the north, the northwest than any other zone in the country.
In three and a half years if not for election, how come Osinbajo suddenly became active? Because elections are by the corner?
Remember, when Osun governorship election was to hold, he went. But for about three years , he didn’t know that Osun existed until it was election time and he went to share money there. The APC is already sharing Tradermoni in states where they think that they have problem. Out of the thirty states of the federation, in three and a half years they have not been able to cover half. So, what is anybody going to tell you that the money is not a fraud? It is a scam, a huge fraud and quite unfortunate.
The vice president recently said that the TraderMoni was approved by Senate President Bukola Saraki and House of Representatives Speaker Joshua Dogara when they were in APC and wondered why it has become a subject of criticism by them now that they are no longer in APC?
The modality of implementing Tradermoni is wrong. The idea is right. Nobody is saying that the idea is not correct. You can help people but, you need to bring the ordinary people into what is called financial inclusion. What they are doing now is financial exclusion. It has to be financial inclusion so that you can take people from the informal sector to the formal sector and design a programme or policy so that they will be able to pay certain taxes into the treasury of the government. How do I mean? Set up micro finance banks or collection points to run a typical business. This way, an ordinary trader can approach these banks to obtain this loan just like the way it was done during General Babangida’s era with People’s Bank. There was micro finance bank, you go to the micro finance bank, fulfill all the modalities and you are given the money- N10,000 or N20,000. And they will tell you when to return the money and what interest you are going to pay. That way, by the time you capture about five hundred thousand Nigerians, you can easily monitor and track the loan for repayment.
Now, you can’t track anything. There is no office of TraderMoni anywhere. If you are aware of anyone, please tell me. Only that the vice president is seen on top of vehicle taking their tomatoes and shaking hands with them; trying to show that the government cares for them. I learnt that when he went to Mararaba in Nyaya, in Abuja, that his phone was stolen.
His phone was stolen?
Yes, that was what I heard. Because the people they are talking to; you see poverty, malnutrition, starvation on their faces. You can see old women looking so haggard, not being catered for. So, the government ought to have designe d a proper programme that will ensure sustainability. What they are doing now is ad-hoc arrangement. A government that runs on ad-hoc arrangement cannot survive the test of time and any programme that is an ad-hoc programme, cannot last forever.
If you want to design any programme for financial inclusion, you have to capture people in the informal and formal sectors to drag them into the tax net. The motivation in any democracy when you hear it, is “Tax payers money”. When people have that sense of being the people that contribute for you to become who you are, they now derive inalienable rights to interrogate your policies and programmes.
But when you don’t capture them into your tax net, it becomes a problem. That’s why people can steal money the way they like. To me, Tradermoni just like the school feeding programme is a scam. Huge…huge scam! And I want anybody from their side to tell me why it is not a scam.
They are doing school feeding programme, my brother visit Nigerian schools, you will see glorified poultry and piggery as schools where people are expected to take lessons. Now, when you go to those schools, you don’t monitor the quality of food being served these children. The man who is coming to serve, he has middlemen- “my money per head na N2.00 oh”. By the time you multiply it, the man is making good money. The person who serves does not put quality at play, so that he/she can satisfy those who made him or her to get that contract.
We must make good and genuine investment in education sector by making it attractive to the learner. I served in Edo State as a commissioner and I will give a typical example. What we did was to rebuild Edo schools. Do you know what happened? Registration of pupils enrollment increased from 33,000 to 67,000. And when we asked the children question why it was so? They said,” the classroom (well ventilated classroom- you have fan, tiles, chairs) is better than our home.” These are children – innocent children. These are Children suffering from poverty in Nigeria and living in face me I face you building (I slap you kind of house). They found the classroom environment more attractive. That doubles or triples the enrollment figure in our primary schools in Edo state.
The same thing was replicated in secondary schools in Edo State. We called it “Red Roof Revolution” because it’s red roof in all the schools. Go there, you will see that our secondary schools are better than some university structures. So, if the motivation is not to take the child away from school, you will not take the child to a poultry or another piggery structure. What is the motivation for pupils? Food? No!
Students are still taking lessons under the tree in this country and APC government is doing school feeding programme. Who is fooling who? In a 21st century contemporary world, you still have students being fed.
Almajiri schools that were built by former President Goodluck Jonathan, a PDP government, where are they under the APC government? What are we talking about? These are quick fix methods. You keep some money somewhere to run election. Otherwise, if they tell you that they have spent N500 billion on school feeding programme, would you argue? After all, they will show you vicious pictures of how pupils are scrambling for food.
While the school feeding programme is ongoing, there was a report I was reading today, where one NGO was complaining that state governments have refused to redeem their commitment on this issue of Ready to use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) programme where state governments keyed into it, paid certain commitment so that children who are malnourished will be helped and the figures are going higher and higher. Yesterday, I just saw the report.
For a serious minded government, if you are doing some of these things, you will see the impact but, Nigeria is being categorized as the poverty capital of the world with 88 million people. Do you know what they describe as extreme poverty by World Bank standard? You have a family of five consisting of mother, father, three children. When day breaks and the food in the house can only cater for two people out of five. Then, the mum, one child and dad sit down without food while only two children will eat food. That is one scenario of extreme poverty as the man and the woman will go out to look for food. Only God knows where they will find food.
The second scenario is the child goes to school. The teacher that is in the local area teaching them only knows a little of reading and writing. He or she is not well lettered to even teach. The child who is listening to him is hungry. He is just looking at the teacher like that – dumbfounded. Whatever jargon that the teacher is putting is entering the right ear and going out through the left one; because the child is hungry.
Another scenario is where the only available source of water in the rural area is one stream that is 2 kilometres away from where these children reside or where their family reside. The child carries a bucket, goes to the stream and trek 2 kilometres And by the time he fetches the surface of the dirty water; going back home hits his leg on a stone, the water will pour off. Crying, helpless, he has to go back again. How many journeys of 2 kilometres does he has to make to get water for his family daily? Even though, not drinkable water. So, if you look at the rate of extreme poverty level, you would see that it is a pain that will move any government that has human heart to act in a positive way. But, we are not seeing that in this government. When, I hear people talk about TraderMoni or no TraderMoni, the idea could be good but, the modality is completely in default. And I stand to be corrected.
What I want to see is financial inclusion, which Atiku has promised. He says you need to capture people into the formal sector so that you can predict the behavioural pattern of your economic activities at the lower level. That way, you can do proper monitoring.The former President Ibrahim Babangida did it by introducing micro finance bank. The micro finance he introduced, was the first bank in my village. It is not this one that Osibanjo has become Babaloja (Patron of Marketer) as a vice president going round the market nationwide. Government and leadership are serious business. They are organized indulgence. Not haphazard, ramshackled or disoriented.
Leadership is a clear discipline form of indulgence. It does not dance to hysteria or to a mob action. Serious leadership is not the one that takes decision on public opinion. No. Let them see us that we are sharing money. No. Leadership is being able to know where you are taking your people and not where your people are taking you; because they have collectively endorsed you as their leader. That means that their wishes and aspirations are encapsulated in you.
Just like the way the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom resigned because of the outcome of the Brexit Referendum last year.
That is leadership for you. You come down and jump from vehicle to vehicle and say you are doing TraderMoni and giving people miserable money. That to me is not leadership.
How would a PDP government take Nigeria out of poverty?
There are so many things you need to do. If you study the Atiku blueprint, which is the first clear cut deliberate and conscious attempt to document what a government intends to do if they get elected into the office. You will see quite a large number of lofty ideas which if implemented will take us away from this ad-hocism to something that is sustainable in the lives and times of our nation.
How do I mean? There are so many things to be done. First, this government action of carrying the toga of anti-corruption crusade has led to the loss of 20.9 million jobs- Statistics from National Bureau of Statistics, not statistics from Kassim Afegbua.
Now, they are talking about job losses. That means those persons were in job before but, as a result of certain condition, they lost their jobs. That is also impacting negatively on the security of the country. An adage says that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. That is one aspect of the problem we have found ourselves in.
The PDP has captured Atiku Abubakar who has been a creator of wealth to be the President. He has been managing human and resources and has built businesses that have become conglomerate. He has in his private business employment over 50,000 Nigerians in his different businesses.
He is into education, INTELS services, farming, in so many things in our national life. And he has been conspicuously been a big man for the past 32 years. You cannot say that it was when he became the vice president that he became rich. No!
He narrowly missed being a president as the official candidate of Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1992/93 to late MKO Abiola. So, such a man who has carved a niche for himself at that period and has consistently remained relevant. There must be something in him that will profit our nation because he has been able to manage men and resources and sustained his businesses. We cannot quantify the multiplier effects of his investment on more than families gainfully engaged as his employees.
He told us and I believe him that he will create jobs and people say how would he create jobs? He said that the private sector is the haven for creating jobs. Government has no business in running business. Government business is to create enabling environment, build the relevant infrastructure and allow the private sector to cash in on that. If in my community, we have good roads for the local farmers to transport their produce to urban centre where the demand for them is higher. If those roads are fixed, the motivation to go to farm more will be high. But where the roads are bad; the only available vehicle is one pickup that has worn-out shock-absorbers and bad tyres, people will be afraid to even take their goods to the urban centres. They will rather sell at that subsistent level to their colleagues.
So, once you open up the rural areas to build the local economy, by building roads and infrastructure (water, light), then the motivation to go and work in the farm will be there. If you are divesting, agriculture alone can take a lot of people away from the streets. But what is the government doing? So, PDP government is going to create jobs. We are going to bring people into the formal sector- what we call financial inclusion, so as to know the behavioural pattern of the people at the lower rural level.
Again, help to overhaul the security architecture of the country, rejig it and respond in a more proactive manner to crimes and criminality. What we have now is a reactive tendency by this government, because the government has run short of ideas. Service chiefs who ought to be retired, because they are tired are still being kept in the name of trying to serve the whims and caprices of a president who feels that those men are his own and he can trust them.
The Inspector-General is due for retirement on January 3, 2019. We are hearing that money has been exchanging hands so that he can get a six-month extension. That will be unconstitutional, because there are statutory provisions that if you have served 35 years in service, you are supposed to exit. So, it is like asking for a third term for an I.G that ought to go home. In the first place, the way and manner he was appointed, beats the imagination of all of us. So, there are so many things to be done to take Nigeria away from poverty, to turn Nigeria to El Dorado will be a studied, methodical and planned programme. But we are not going to behave in a mobbish manner like this present government is doing. If you jump into the market, people will hail you and all that. Even the ordinary person should see his enemy, he will hail him, particularly in a market because the mere fact they are seeing you will invoke passion. But getting the right thing done is not being done.
Look at President Buhari and APC leaders are almost denying everything that we promised Nigerians in 2015. We promised Nigerians that one dollar will be one naira.
Today, it’s N360.00 to $1.00, Isn’t it? We promised that fuel will reduce to N45.00. Today, it is N145. We added N100.00 on top. We said that kerosene will be affordable to Nigerians. Today, kerosene is out of the reach of ordinary persons. It is about N300.00 per litre. That is what they use at the local area and for those who cannot afford gas. Today, kerosene is the most expensive product in that category of products. We promised electricity – affordable electricity. Today, it is a hell. My community, Okpella, two days ago celebrated one year of darkness. In Edo State, I am sure you know that the governor had to walkout the MD of BEDC, Olufunke Osibodu, because of darkness everywhere.
So, what is it that Buhari and APC have promised that they have fulfilled? Buhari claimed to be fighting corruption. I agree. He has become selective instead of declaring a total war on corruption. If somebody who is corrupt joins APC, he becomes a saint for supporting Mr. President’s re-election project, isn’t it? But when somebody lives APC and joined PDP, he becomes a sinner. Then, you now go after the person.
Fayose was leaving government, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC) sent his name all over the borders in Nigeria. He came out; he submitted himself to the EFCC. The former Governor of Osun State Rauf Aregbesola left Osun, the EFCC folded arms and the APC celebrated him with ornaments. In this same country – different strokes for different folks, different laws for different persons because of political affiliation. The EFCC Chairman Ibrahim Magu allegedly carries the lapel of the president on his chest. What other proof do you want me to give you that the campaign against Atiku Abubakar, cannot yield the result they are expecting. It cannot.
So, to take Nigeria away from poverty, you must do the right thing and Nigerians must see that you are actually doing the right things. Don’t preach to me that Mr. President is a man of integrity and he refused to sign the Electoral Act that could give birth to credible elections. Jonathan signed a law three weeks to election in 2015 that produced Buhari. Now, Buhari has failed to even sign a law that takes away incident from where 13.9 million persons voted without PVC in 2015.
So, the PVC was signed by Jonathan three weeks to election?
Yes in 2015. Electoral Act Amendment has been presented for the fourth time before Buhari but he is still refusing to sign on the grounds that it is close to the election. What is the business of Buhari with that? Is he the implementer of the law? Buhari should sign the Electoral Act into law. Those who execute laws are different and those who make laws are different. So, let him sign it into law and let us know whether it will apply. We are saying the agency should be given much power so that they can do so many things but refusing to sign the Act means that Buhari is saying no. We are saying that the result should be transmitted electronically to the collation centre. You say no. And you are telling international community that you are committed to free, fair and credible election.
How do you make that happen?
After all, we saw visual video of how underage people were voting in Kano. Of course I was an APC beneficiary in that process whether you like it or not. But we have since seen that it is not the best approach to contend with during the 2019 election and laws have been made. There is no law made all over the world that is in the best interest of one individual. Laws are made not at the convenience of anyone but, of the society; because every law will outlive those who are in office. So, it is a gradual process of rejigging and carrying an amendment. But in this case, the man says no. He doesn’t want to sign and we are just folding our arms and looking.
So, the PDP presided over Nigeria for 16 years, it is not all about story. Speaking with the benefit of hindsight now that we have run a government of three and a half years. APC promised certain things that didn’t do – fuel at N87 but instead added to it. The APC promised that it is not going to pay subsidy but, the money being used for subsidy is running into trillions – N1.4 trillion. PDP didn’t pay up to N320 billion subsidy.
Meanwhile, here is Buhari, a man of integrity who criticized subsidy payment and described it as a fraud, having served as a petroleum minister under whom $2.8 billion was allegedly declared missing. He set up a committee of enquiry according to late Fela Anikulapo, the thing went to $4.1 billion. What became of it? The judge in-charge of the case had to face certain punishment. So, my brother, Buhari cannot say that he is a man of integrity. He talked about not paying subsidy few years ago. But now that he is in the saddle, Buhari is doing the same thing he spoke against. That is also a fraud; for rejecting subsidy as a presidential candidate and now paying subsidy. So, if you say the president is a fraud, you have not taken anything away from him, because he said it and all that.
People tend to forget easily. In 2011 when he was campaigning for presidency, he criticized PDP that the action they were taking against Boko Haram persons was unconstitutional and if they can grant amnesty to certain persons, those people (Boko Haram members) deserve to be granted same. Go and check your records. Today, he is the president and the same man wants to fight Boko Haram.
Have we not seen upscale activities of Boko Haram? This insecurity has disjointed the nation, severed the nation in a manner that we are now heavily polarized, heavily divided along religious and ethnic lines. We have never been this divided in the country and that must be understood. We need a President who can unify the people, so that people on their own can pursue their legitimate aspirations. Atiku has promised to create a pool of entrepreneurs- that at the lower level , medium and small scale enterprises will be given support. This is because they are the highest employers of labour- about 60 million thereabout. You don’t know these things until you are part of the system. Somebody who is a creator of wealth will understand the dynamics of the rural economy. So, he (Atiku) will do something different from what they are doing now. Atiku is all for jobs! Jobs! Jobs. If you can see job to do, you will not think of any crime.
But the Presidency claimed that the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) did not capture jobs created in agriculture which is area where we have comparative advantage and that was why the presidency has to call the Statistician General to order?
What was the response of Statistician General Dr Yemi Kale to them? What is the business of a vice president in the work of NBS about statistics? You think NBS officials are fools or you think they don’t have monitoring indicators? Is it three years ago that they started capturing agriculture produce? What gave the former Minister of Agriculture Dr Akinwumi Adesina the position of African Development Bank (ADB) President global recognition? Was it not because of agriculture?
Under whose government did he serve? Was it not under Jonathan? Jonathan’s government , was it not under PDP? So, what are we talking about? If you want to talk about anything revolution in the area of agriculture, it took a higher ground under the PDP, led by Adesina as Minister of Agriculture. So, if APC is reaping that intervention, investment, they should give the credit to the appropriate person that it is due.
Now, APC said the NBS didn’t capture employment or job creation in that sector when what the administration is doing on Tradermoni is based on ad-hoc basis- ad-hocism.
I went to TVC yesterday for a programme and the journalist in me had to carry out few in-house investigation. They have sacked about 200 workers in the last one year in TVC and TV station is owned by a chieftain of APC, Isn’t it? That means that there is a decline in revenue by sending about 200 persons to the unemployment market. Atiku’s policy programme talks about capturing this cryptocurrency.
Atiku also claimed he lost 5,000 jobs in his employ?
Yeah, because businesses are no longer coming. Cryptocurrency is a resource that people should cash into and he captured it in his blueprint that he will make sure he opens up that particular business for people to get training to go into this business. If you look at the entrepreneurial initiative of an average Nigerian youth, if you expose him to technology, he would do a lot of things and that is why the education sector has to be repackaged, rebranded and the curriculum must fit into the problems of contemporary age. But we have a government with a president who does not interact with Nigerians.
We have a president who does not engage. Ministers don’t have access to him, as we learnt from grapevine. We have friends who are ministers. They will tell you that they can’t remember the last time they sat down with the president to interact to discuss issues of policy, issues of moving the country forward in their ministries. They are just using their brain to rationalize things. When you don’t have access to the man who employed you for him to know what you are trying to do, how are you going to get result, except now that the elections are coming, the doors of the Villa are open to all manner of people and characters.
They have turned that place to a campaign ground. President receives Governor Ibikunle Amosun today, tomorrow he receives the chairman of UPP, next day he is receiving another person, because elections are coming. We have started seeing President Buhari. Otherwise before now, you will not know at times whether the president is around or not in the country. So, we have a problem. We want a president that can talk to us when things happen. Can you remember the massacre of 27 persons killed in Zamfara few days ago?
Yesterday, 13 soldiers were killed in Damaturu, Yobe. The ADC to the governor of Yobe State was killed, because he was escorting the son of the governor. The governor only escaped being killed yesterday. If up to 13 soldiers died and the former Chief of Defence Staff is killed like a chicken; what are we talking about? Does the president have any business to ask Nigerians that he wants another term? This government is too bloody and Nigerians are tired of blood. We are tired of blood shedding. We are tired of kidnappings. We are tired of poverty. We are tired of hunger. The 2019 election will be a huge national referendum against hunger, against poverty, against deprivations, against malnutrition. We are the confirmed candidates of Internally Displaced Persons. We are IDPs- all of us. All of us are IDPs. Don’t joke about it. Go to the rural areas and see what I am talking about. We are all IDPs looking for relief materials.
Christmas has just come and gone. The parks were empty literally. People didn’t travel, because they cannot afford even transport fare. It used to be a funfair. People look up to Christmas every year. I remember in my home when I was growing up, the only time we eat rice was during Sallah and during Christmas. But people cannot afford it now. A bag of rice is now N20,000. When Christmas came to the corner, it now increased to N22,000. Recently, an APC senator representing Niger North, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, said that President Buhari has no major opposition. Do you really think that your candidate, Atiku Abubakar, stand a chance in this election considering the strong followership the president enjoys in the north?
You see, you people in the media always help Nigerians to know the true state of things. Sabi Aliyu Abdullahi is from Niger North. When he went to his community to do one thing, he was chased out.
He made the statement that Buhari has no opposition because election is coming that he is remembering his district. He was a spokesman of the senate. His kinsmen described him as Abuja politician. Even the circumstances of his ticket is still a subject of questioning as we speak. So, when such members speak, you know they are just lashing unto Buhari to remain relevant.
We are not opponents of Buhari. Majority of Nigerians are opponents of Buhari. The 2019 election is not about Atiku Abubakar, it is not about the PDP, it is about a referendum against poverty, against hunger, deprivation and malnutrition. You understand. Instead of being the headquarters of extreme poverty in the world, PDP wants to take the country away from that kind of rating as the Poverty capital of the world.
But the APC has always accused your party of being responsible for the current economic situation that the country is facing now.
You see, when a man is empty headed and he fails examination, the only way he can convince his parents is to say that he was not the only one who failed. Two people, three people in the class failed. In fact daddy, out of 100 of us, it was only six that passed- 94 failed. The statement is to justify why he failed. Not knowing that he didn’t prepare well for the event. It is only a lazy student that would blame the failure of a fellow student for his own failure. Only an unthinking and empty headed student would blame another student for his own failure.
APC came on board in 2015 on high hopes. That high hopes plummeted within six months. Why was it so? President Buhari took six months to appoint his cabinet . His body language was stiff, sterile, rigid and unbending posturing of an individual. That cannot fit into the dynamics of a modern world where there is room for flexibility, quick action, hands-on approach to issues, so that you can get things done.
Nigerians know that they needed to change hands in 2015; that things were not going well and they needed to test and taste another leadership. That was why the PDP was voted out. We were aware of the problems of the country; that was why there was change. Now, the change has come. Nigerians are now lamenting that if they had known, they would have sustained what they were having prior to 2015. But they say, you can only get the right taste of anything by tasting it, isn’t it? They say taste of the pudding is in the eating.
Therefore, if you didn’t taste president Buhari, there are millions of people who would think he is the best president Nigeria never had. But now, we have tasted him. Those followers you think that he has in the north, their eyes are open now. For the first time in so many years, they are abusing him in the north. They are waxing music to abuse him that Buhari’s government is a government of hunger. Yuwa – an Hausa word for hunger. Akwei yuwa (that means there is hunger). APC!
Some people will say Yuwa! That’s what they do now in the north. If they didn’t test him, they wouldn’t know and if he had died without being president of Nigeria again, some people would go to his grave side and worship him; and say this was the best president that Nigeria never had. But now we have him. They have forgotten that in 1984/85 when he was the Head of State, a loaf of bread rose from 20k to 75k. Life became difficult. That was why when General Babangida took over on August 27, 1985, there was jubilation across the country. We are still in that scenario now; but this time through the ballot box. People will vote him out and they will vote accordingly. If the APC makes attempt to rig Presidential election they would meet their match; because we would resist every attempt to rig that election.
Now on corruption, the vice president said that the corruption fight is in levels. The first is to stop unnecessary withdrawals from NNPC account and other Federation account. After that, Buhari will focus on probe of contractors. So, how do you rate the corruption fight?
There is no corruption fight. I studied Anti-Corruption and Good Governance at postgraduate level under a programme of a U.S government in Masachusset University in Wisconsin and I was exposed to indices of corruption and the modalities of combating it. The worst form of corruption is nepotism and it is the number one item on the menu of Buhari presidency. After nepotism, the next is cronyism. After that one is selective application of laws- which is called selective amnesia, then favouritism. By the time you package all these things together; they placed in the hierarchy of needs of Buhari anti-corruption presidency.
What is the definition of corruption? Monopoly plus discretion minus accountability. The monopoly power of an individual is what affects his discretional powers and it is the discretionary powers that you possess that tell about your accountability or lack of it.From Katsina State alone, we have over 50 appointees in this government and you tell me that that is fair enough? Not just in Katsina State alone, in Daura, where you come from. That is the worst form of corruption- nepotism and President Buhari is an epitome of nepotism, of cronyism, of selective amnesia and such an individual cannot in every estimation or imagination assume the simplyhood of an anti-corruption fighter. You either fight a war against corruption or not. When you say you are fighting against corruption and you are just being selective, that is not war against corruption. The war must be total. When you are fighting a war, it is total because you use every variables.
But now President Buhari claimed that he is fighting corruption where Musiliu Obanikoro who was alleged to have misappropriated public fund have received his travelling document because he joined APC. The government has also returned his houses to him reportedly. The government has also returned travelling document of former Governor Iyiola Omisore to him. He is a free man walking on the streets and so many others. Then, you will now tell me that the prosecution of Senator Dariye and Nyame started under APC. Dariye’s case has been on since 2006, am I right? So, what are we talking about? Jonny Nyame, since 2007.
So, you don’t come out in a hypocritical manner and tell me you are fighting corruption. No please, keep it there; because if you want to fight corruption, there are procedures. First, the rule of law must at all times apply to all cases. Sambo Dasuki has been granted bail five or six times but his administration has refused to release him. That to me is corruption- legal corruption or illegal corruption, because a court of competent jurisdiction has given verdict that this man is entitled to bail and he said that he is not going to be released on court order because the presidency does not respect court orders. The anti-corruption scenario that I was taught, the rule of law is the grand norm to decide cases to every Tom, Dick and Harry. It’s a leveler for everybody.
If you look at the Singaporean experience, they are almost the best case study in anti- corruption studies. How they took the country away from the rotten, corruption infested country to a first world by sacrificing the big fishes.
Buhari claimed to be fighting corruption, yet his former Secretary to Government’s Federation (SGF) David Babachir is moving to and fro the Presidential Villa and a member of his campaign group working to return him to power. Meanwhile, he was indicted for grass cutting and all that. You are fighting corruption, Abdulrasheed Maina, who was notorious to have misappropriated pension funds, came into the country, got re-integrated into the civil service, got promotion and started issuing memos until the alarm bell went haywire. As we speak, Buhari’s EFCC has not been able to arrest Maina. Who is deceiving who? Which corruption is he fighting?
Buhari said he is fighting corruption, then his wife, who should be the closest person to him is telling the whole world that two men are holding him down; that they can’t allow him to perform. And you want me to really take Buhari seriously? So, you don’t apply half measures in a serious issue and serious scourge as corruption.
Even vice president Osinbajo was accused of corruption with copious evidence of signing out N5.3 billion NEMA money when he was acting president. And that the contracts were given to persons without going through tender in line with the Fiscal Responsibility Act and Procurement Act. Another N33 billion was allegedly misappropriated by NEMA under the supervision of the vice president. They are issues in the public domain. Where has that led us now? There seems to be quietness now. So, save me those platitudes that someone is fighting corruption.
President Buhari promised to declare assets publicly as part of our campaign slogan in 2015- that he will declare his asset when he becomes president. Dr. did you see public declaration of asset? You think the man is not wise.
But he declared his asset?
Every public office holder must declare his asset. The option of making it public is your own and he wanted to prove his integrity by promising to declare his asset publicly.
I think he did?
Where? No! He didn’t declare publicly. I am a manager of news. I monitor news. Femi Adesina, specifically told Nigerians that the president has declared his assets and that anybody who wants it can apply to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB)- that it is in the public domain. In fact, the media aide to Vice President Osibanjo, Laolu Akande, did a better a job in telling Nigerians what Osinbajo declared. We were made to know that he has N94 million and $900,000 thereabout. I don’t think I can get the figures right.
They told us that Buhari has 150 cows, up till now they are still 150- they are gay cows. They don’t give birth. They don’t mate. If the President cannot recreate 150 cows in 2015 to multiply to about 1,000 cows now and he cannot raise N45 million to buy his nomination form, such a man does not have technical competence to manage the affairs of Nigeria. That means, he is a killer of initiative; because he cannot have 150 cows to run profitably as a business.
Some people came out to say that they bought form for him. Who are they fooling? If Buhari cannot create wealth, he has no business managing our collective patrimony.
It was also the friends of Atiku that bought form for him?
See, friends of Atiku can buy form, but Atiku didn’t say that he cannot afford it. Are you getting my point? President Buhari said the money is too much. They scaled it down from N55 million thereabout to N45 million, have you forgotten? If it was not a product of corruption, why will a party impose such a heavy fund- a heavy fee for nomination form? What are you doing with the money as a party? Make your form N2 million. You lose nothing, isn’t it? If APC increased nomination form because of the president at N55 million so that anybody that wants to buy it will struggle and later bring it down to N45 million and the man said he cannot afford N45 million.
What is really special about the form?
According to APC chairman, Adams Oshiomhole who claimed that the party don’t have money bags and that’s why they are using that to rake in money for their campaigns.
You and me know that in APC, we have new generation of corrupt persons whether you like it or not. It is just because of law, we will not want to mention names. You and me know even by the lifestyle of those who are front row friends of President Buhari, are all corrupt. What are we talking about? So, you cannot be deceiving us in a hypocritical manner and you want me to take you seriously. No! Hypocrisy is the worst form of corruption. Nepotism, pretensions- these are the hallmarks of corruption. So, when people say they are fighting corruption, I just sit back and look.
EFCC and ICPC issues
When did you see the EFCC audit report as a journalist? When did you see ICPC audit report? Have you seen anything in public in terms of their funding apart from what is normally captured in budget under this presidency? Do you know how much was voted for EFCC in 2018? Did EFCC not say that they have recovered so much money? Where are those houses they said they have recovered? What about the resource; what about the money? Where are they? Let them show us addresses. We recovered 300 properties, these are the addresses. Let us know the state of those properties, what they are doing with them and who are appropriating them to themselves?
When you want to fight corruption, you set standards. Do you want to tell me that in EFCC when they are doing recruitment, there is no favouritism there? No long leg, no note? You are recruiting people who have been suffering for donkey years into EFCC and you say the same EFCC will fight corruption? We are all suffering and now made worse under a government that lacks creativity and initiative- to generate new ideas that will contend with the contemporary challenges we have as a country. It is not about saying we are fighting corruption, it is about doing it- the right things.
Did he not commission EFCC headquarters about six months ago? Have they moved there? Did he not commission the Port Harcourt Airport? Have they started using it? Did he not commission Abuja Airport recently? Have you seen any plane flying from there? There are so many things in this government that they say, the more you look; the less you see.
I saw a picture online that shows that most of the cars recovered by EFCC under Obasanjo have been covered by weeds. What do you have to say about that?
That to me is economic wastage, pure and clear. You see, when you do recovery, you can turn them to national monument. There is no problem but, you must be transparent in it. The man who has been appointed as the chairman of asset recovery, Obono-Obla, is being accused of certificate forgery. What have they done? You are fighting corruption, recovering looted fund and your minister for finance forged her NYSC certificate?. You didn’t prosecute her? She resigned; the administration following day you cleared the road for her to fly to London . She is cooling off in London.
The minister for communications, Barr Adebayo Shittu is part and parcel of Buhari’s government. He has come openly to say that he didn’t do NYSC because he served as a member of Oyo State House of Assembly and all that. You didn’t do anything. He is still serving in Buhari’s administration.
My brother, anti- corruption fight is not just about mouthing it just as I said earlier. You must back it up with actions. Why will a man who did not serve NYSC at the statutory age still remain in Buhari’s government? Why will there be no prosecution of the case of Buhari’s finance minister who allegedly forged NYSC certificate? It is perjury because she sworn to an oath and presented her document. After addressing the country, she ran away and you want me to take Buhari seriously that he is challenging Fayose. That the EFCC went to arrest Fayose because he has allegedly stolen certain amount. The ones that are under the nose of the EFCC were spared because they are in APC?
This set of Buhari’s ministers, are they the best you can get from the country? This set of ministers that we see? In three and a half years, has he reshuffled his cabinet? You are putting square pegs in round holes. Look at a lawyer as minister for budget and planning. A lawyer – what does he know about figures? Look at an attorney general telling them in court that he never supported Buhari for not respecting bail conditions granted by courts to Sambo Dasuki. Look at the issue of money of Abacha loot. They are fighting over what should be the percentage. Who is deceiving who? We cannot be deceived.
Look at the issue of mass slaughtering of our soldiers in the northeast, Zamfara, mass killing in Benue, Plateau, Kaduna and Sokoto state is getting into it. What is the position and action taken by the president as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces to mitigate all these crises? How many of these states has he visited? It took him one month to realize that his IG he sent to Benue did not go there and stay when he said he should relocate to Benue. He said, ‘I am not even aware”. He went to Taraba, he was comparing the figures of Taraba to that of Plateau – that it is worse than that of Plateau that people are shouting of.
He has not visited Zamfara. In one day, reportedly 250 people were killed in Dansa Dau, in Zamfara State, as if we are in a war situation. This government is too bloody and a bloody government cannot sit back and tell me it is fighting corruption. That to me, I will call it witch-hunting; because some of the people you say are corrupt were part and parcel of your party before.
When President Buhari was coming onboard, they donated money; they contributed money. He didn’t see that money as corrupt money. He didn’t ask question where is this money coming from? He was enjoying their private jets. He celebrated them. He used very glowing words to pay tribute to them. Now, they have pulled out of the party to join the PDP, leaders of APC are now castigating them and running them down saying that they are corrupt people.
You said the man, Atiku, cannot go to U.S. When you now heard that they are issuing him visa, you went to organize crowd to say don’t take side. America don’t give this man visa? What are we talking about? What are we doing? Yet, you want me to take you seriously? No! This government is just a government in cycles. It’s just running round the cycles- rotating on the same axis and they want to make progress? No! It is not possible. For a president who does not organize media chat to talk to Nigerians so that we can even know his body language and know if he understands what is happening in Nigeria. You want to compare him to an Atiku who reaches out to people?
This president only talk to Nigerians only when he travels out of the country. In Paris, he spoke. In Poland, he spoke. In U.K, he spoke, In America, he spoke. In Nigeria, he is a monologue. He talks only to himself. He doesn’t talk to us, but as elections are coming, will Buhari be man enough, bold enough as an anti-corruption fighter to disclose the identities of the contributors to his campaign? If he can do that, I will take him seriously as an anti-corruption fighter. If anybody is giving N10.00, put the name of the person. This man contributed N10 million and the address. This man contributed N10,000. That’s where I got my campaign fund from. Don’t use illicit funds to execute your campaign and you come and tell me you are fighting corruption. You get my points? If Buhari should do that, I will call him a typical example of a chichibido bird. Do you know what a chichibido bird is? A white bird, very beautiful. It doesn’t like the smell of faeces. It doesn’t like stain or excreter but, it feeds on maggots.
Where does maggot come from? Shit! It is only shit that produces maggot. You understand? That is what President Buhari will become if he fails to disclose his re- election sponsors.
The 2019 budget that was presented by President Buhari. What can you say about it?
That’s not a budget, that’s a campaign document. It is a campaign document that is so default. Even as a non- economist, I can speak to a lot of issues about the N8.83 trillion budget. A quarter of that is on debt servicing. Half of it, he collected them under three and a half year administration isn’t it? Yet, on one hand, Customs’ revenue has jumped up because you are blocking leakages. Presidency said the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) revenue has jumped up. You told us that you are making so much money, yet you are paying N2.4 trillion for debt servicing. That is a quarter of the budget.
The recurrent, which is usually 100% spent is almost about 60%. Then, he is budgeting a quarter of capital expenditure, N2.1 trillion. Then, the remaining one for service wide vote and what have you. If you ask me, that’s not a budget that can take anybody out of anything at all, because even the parameters used to arrive at that budget are faulty. Consistently, we have been running 1.9 million barrel per day, the Presidency is setting a benchmark of 2.3 million barrels per day. That means it is envisaging addition of 400,000bpd ouput.The OPEC has cut down our output to 1.5 million barrel per day.
Yes. On GDP, the government is setting a growth of 3.01%. Meanwhile, we are at 1.8% as we speak. We are “haemorrhaging”, struggling, gasping for breath under that. But the government is already setting a GDP of 3.01%. So by the time you look at the scenarios of $60 per barrel, we are at $53 now as of this morning. There are chances that it may still drop further.
So, why don’t we propose a budget where the benchmarks are underated, so that when the price increases, it will be a surplus. Then, his administration can now plan on the basis of that. But Presidency is setting a budget with parameters that are inescapable in terms of economic terms.
So, for me, because the president cannot interprete figures and realities on the ground, anything they write for him, he presents. They claimed in that speech that there was one dam that was fixed in Ogwashiukwu. I am sure you are aware that that dam is dry. Do you know what that tells you? That there is a different between actuality and what you are saying. And as a president with all the paraphernalia you have and CCT cameras, you cannot do monitoring of projects.
So, when a president cannot speak to facts, it becomes an issue. It’s a big problem. President Buhari does not go round. He has not travelled on road for the past three and a half years for a distance of two hours. If he has done so please tell me and which place did he go? It is either helicopter or plane. When he comes to see what he wants to see, he goes.
He does not know how reckless and pitiable our roads have become. When Governor Aminu Tambuwal was running for president, I followed him to go round 35 states of the country. Half of that, we travelled by road. My brother, the state of Nigerian roads, there is no excuse by any government, but because elections are coming, we have caterpillars on the roads and the streets. I am telling you.
This is the 4th dry season under APC-led government. He took over in May, 2015. There was dry season in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. This is the 4th dry season. They should tell me how many kilometers of roads they have done, because I have gone round the major roads in this country. Tell me the road and I will tell you the state of that road.
If you travel from Sokoto down to Kaduna, through Funtua and all of that, it’s an eyesore. From Minna to Abuja, close range of 100km, it is an eyesore. Katangora to Minna, an eyesore. Tegina-Bini Gwari, eyesore. Awka to Onitsha, almost impassible. You have to look at sometimes on how to navigate. It’s the truth. Umuahia down to Onitsha, problem. We went through that road that passed through Chukwumerije’s house and all that before we got to Oko. It’s a terrible road. Owerri that used to be a smooth road to Port Harcourt was a terrible sight- terrible. My brother, where are the roads?
If we accuse PDP of not doing roads, what have we done in four years, four dry seasons? Lokoja-Okene to my community, Okpella, we have terrible roads. From Okpella to Benin that used to take me one hour thirty minutes, now it take three hours. Now, there are caterpillars on the roads. That’s how they will be dancing on the roads until May 2019 when it starts to rain , they will tell you that they could not go far because of the rain. There is so much of dubious intentions in this government. And I keep asking questions, why is it so? Abraka-Benin road, eyesore.
You see, if you want to prove things right, you have to do things for people to see.. Akure- Ilesha-Owo down to Benin are terrible roads with Kidnappings everywhere. That’s why kidnappers are having a field day, Motorist you must slow down. Then, from there, they will accost you. So, what do you do? We are in a terrible shape oh.
How do you see the attitude of the legislators during the budget presentation by President Buhari?
No! There was nothing wrong at all. The way they booed the president? There was nothing wrong with that. They should boo him more than that. Why? President Buhari went there to campaign. He didn’t go there to present budget. You understand? When he clinched his fist and was doing it like this and later like this (showing eight fingers back and forth). His sign of rabbia. That is becoming a symbol of extremism in Egypt, Turkey and what have you?
People are saying that it is 4+4. No! Even if it is 4+4 that is campaign. Budget presentation is a serious business and because the president’s liaison officer between National Assembly and the Villa does not know his job, he should have been able to gauge the mood of the National Assembly before bringing the President to come and speak. Secondly, during former President Goodluck Jonathan’s era, a similar scenario happened. APC senators were very hostile. Those who had defected were very hostile. Jonathan sensed that he will not be able to have a smooth sail, particularly because the elections were near, he sent former Former Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala to do the budget presentation. There is no law that said you shouldn’t delegate. But, we saw him get there and was campaigning- clinching his fists, So, there are people who will approve, there are people who will not approve. That’s why there was a mixture of Yes! No!
Anything you do within the chambers of any parliament, is permissible. Theresa May was booed in the House of Commons, just like the House of Reps. Other presidents have been booed. He will not be the first neither will he be the last if you misbehave. This man from South Africa Julius Malema took Jacob Zuma to the cleaners in the parliament. Heavens did not fall. That is the beauty of democracy. I was reading some nasty comments by some people saying you have to respect this; you have to respect that.
My friend, if you want to earn the respect of anybody, display character to earn it. If people are hungry and there is poverty in the land as a result of your misgovernance , we will continue to boo those responsible anywhere we see them. If Buhari doesn’t want to be booed, he should sit back there in Daura and leave the confines of governance, democracy and leadership. He should patronize me with you are an old man.
We want a leadership that we can talk to, abuse. We are taxpayers. You are sitting down there because we trust you can manage our common patrimony. We didn’t put him there to be looking around. We put him there because he is to represent our wishes and aspirations. I can’t be paying tax and my president is misappropriating the fund and I will not come out to talk. The more we boo him, the more he realized that what he is doing is wrong and sit up. Fantastic attitude, I give the legislators kudos for doing that and any opportunity we have, we will continue to boo the president so that he will realize that he has lost touch with reality.
Poverty is everywhere, hunger is everywhere. People are losing jobs everyday. To start creativity of doing something is a problem. That’s why I commend you profoundly for sustaining this NewsDirect. I must tell you that under a Nigerian situation as we speak right now, life has become terrible. We are in prison and that was why I said that we are all confirmed candidates of Internally Displaced Persons, seeking relief materials.