Kadiri: Situation in Nigeria, recipe for ‘revolution’
Senator Alex Usman Kadiri, an All Progressives Congress (APC) stalwart from Kogi East told JOHN AKUBO that a cabal is trading with the soul of Nigeria.
What are your expectations of the new ministers?
A good number of them are in a very unfortunate situation. Some of the ministers that left not too long ago were barely able to feed and I mean it. By the Nigerian standards, they are poor. The quick access to money has disappeared. Where it exists, it is ‘inside trading.’ Those within know what to do with those who are in other departments. You only hear about the situation they are going through, if somebody tries to be selfish. Otherwise, you will never know.
Budgets of N5bn, N10bn, year in year out, where has it all gone? You have a cabal in the Ministry of works that deals with the cabal in the Ministry of industries. Another cabal in the FCT deals with the cabal in the Ministry of health. Everything is done inside and from what EFCC has shown, it is clear that those in power have surrogates that are doing these businesses for them.
When as a businessman you register a business, you do your feasibility study and submit a proposal, it is under the table you left it. Nobody is going to read it, no matter how brilliant it is because of this insider trade that is going on in this Government. So, no matter how brilliant the new ministers may be, it is either they succumb and become part of this insider trading business or they lose out. It is a very murky business.
But this same Government prides itself on fighting corruption, or is the fight only on the pages of newspapers?
I don’t know. But most of the people that have been taken to court by ICPC, EFCC and other financial crimes agencies, what has been the success rate with those prosecutions? Some say it is one-sided; that people being tried are members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or non-APC members. I don’t buy that argument though.
And even the people that were taken to court, after detaining them for six or nine months and so on, granting them bail of N20bn or N100bn and bringing first class chiefs as guarantors, all those fanciful things they do in court, how many have been successfully prosecuted, except for former governors Joshua Dariye and Jolly Nyame? Are these the only two corrupt people in Nigeria?
Whether we like it or not, whether you want to please Buhari with what is not true, whether you want to be in the Government’s good book or not, the fact of the matter is that the situation in Nigeria is very grave. People are watching us from outside. That is how revolution starts. When a man or woman feels that there is nothing to lose, he takes up arms against his country. That is what makes revolutionaries, nothing more.
What is your advice for Buhari in the next four years?
My message is the same as it has always been, and that is why I don’t get on with people. But that doesn’t bother me. I am not on the payroll of any political party anywhere in Nigeria. I have not made N5 from the APC that I belong to in any shape or form. So, I am able to say what I believe is right.
I believe this set of politicians governing us is deaf. If they are not, then they are blind or they are both deaf and blind. Take Kogi State for example. How much bailout has Governor Yahaya Bello received? N50.8bn altogether. As we speak, the news making the round is that he has paid workers. Drive to Lokoja or any part of the state and ask workers how much they have received? For those on N120, 000 per or N100, 000 per month, what they do is; instead of paying that amount, they pay N20, 000 in four tranches and then say they have paid four months salary. The so-called payment for four months is not up to one-month salary, which gives room for corruption.
I pity the fellows working in the accounts department of Kogi State Government. You pay a man 20 percent this month, and the following month, he gets 15 percent. The previous month, he got 10 percent. Sometimes, they get alert only to get to the bank and nothing is there. What is this? Are they not provoking people?
About two months ago, the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel told her party she was quitting on television. She is a professor of Physics. She did this, not because she was admitted in the hospital, but because her hands were trembling. Maybe something disturbed her at that point in time. That became a national issue. That is Germany, whose nationals do a lot of business here.
Our President was sick and was flown to the UK how many times? Only God knows. You and I are Nigerians. We are adults, but do we know what our President is suffering from? Can that happen in the US, UK or Germany? This is why their societies are developed. People get to know. Any of us can be sick, so why hide your own as a President, who is a public property? To be shielding the man as if he is the emir or Ciroma of Daura smirks of some abnormality.
This man is the president of Nigeria for God’s sake. But we are not treating him as the President and he is not treating us as citizens. What we need to know, he is not telling us. Yet everybody is quiet because nobody wants to be blackmailed.
Many Nigerians are grumbling on the manner the portfolios were dished out, that the Northwest got more senior ministers, while the junior ones were given to the South. Other appointments also went to Buhari’s kinsmen than other Nigerians. Where is this leading us?
The world is coming to an end because of the way leaders behave.
A good number of cabinet members are related to Buhari by blood. The issue is this: Nigerians elected Buhari, so it is in his right to pick whoever he desires to assist him, either as minister, special adviser or even as his bodyguard. That choice is his, and we cannot quarrel with that. But if he is mindful of the fact that he is President of Nigeria, then he should do things properly, so that people would not criticise him.
I have heard the complain that Northwest alone has seven substantive ministers, while South-South and North Central have two or three or substantive ministers, including Akume who is minister of special duties, whatever that means. The rest are all junior ministers.
Buhari directed that ministers should report to his Chief of Staff, and Secretary to the Government of the Federation. What is your view on this?
Even without saying it, it has been the situation. Sometime ago, the former SGF opened an office in Sheraton Hotel for recruitment of persons. It was denied, but those who paid money there cannot deny it. Some of these things are there; they are flying in the public space. Now a chief of staff, if he is able and healthy, should normally be in the position to filter all information getting to the President.
There is a book written by Haldeman, the Chief of Staff during President Nixon’s tenure as president of America. He was also as powerful as Kyari wants to be now, but two things differentiated them: Haldeman was well educated, healthy and capable. I am not sure Abba Kyari has the capacity to be chief of staff to a president of a country right now, and that includes Nigeria. This is my personal opinion. Our problem in this country is that we don’t like speaking truth to power.
A recent report said the National Assembly is to spend N5.5bn on utility vehicles, but there has been monetisation of this aspect. Do you think it is appropriate for NASS to purchase another set of vehicles for legislative activities?
The problem we are facing in this country is systemic, which can only be addressed through a semi revolution. First example, why should a senator in Nigeria earn more than a president in the U.S.? We don’t even know the take home pay of the President of our country. That of the senators we hear about. These are things we should address. Who sets the pay? Is it the revenue mobilisation and fiscal commission? Does the chairman of that commission know the take home pay of any senator? If he doesn’t, where did they get the difference?
The former senators in the 8th Assembly bought all these vehicles, but where are the vehicles? Did the system make it possible for them to walk away with these vehicles? This system needs a complete overhaul. You bought a car for N14m and I have used it for six months or one year, then you sell it to me at N1.5m. Is that not robbery? The system has evolved to a point where we need revolution to set things right.
People ask why we should have bicameral legislature. Why should any Assembly be full time? Are they really checking the executive, if that is the reason for their full time situation? There are many things we need to address. If we don’t address the systemic problem, we are just touching the surface, when we start talking of cars and allowances.
You keep mentioning revolution. What kind of revolution?
The revolution I am talking about is not the Sowore type. It is not the Nnamdi Kanu’s type of revolution. It is the kind of revolution like that of rioters in Hong Kong. They are not even carrying sticks, but banners and they are brave. It is just to change a situation, but the uprising must be nonviolent, we can do it.
In 2011, Femi Falana, Fani Kayode, El-Rufai and even Buhari, all of them were there at the showdown in Ojota, the Save Nigeria Group. It was against the Government of that time. And didn’t it work? It was the demonstration that sent Jonathan out of government, whether you like it or not. About two weeks ago, they wanted to do a similar thing, but the Police pursued them and it fizzled out. That is the issue we are raising. We want things to change, but we do not want to suffer any inconvenience towards achieving that objective.
My friends called me and said it is not everybody you criticise. If you don’t criticise them, they will give you one plum job. What plum job? My requirements in life are very few. I am not getting married or attending school or paying fees for my children. Any education I pay for now must be that of relations that I can spare, according to my capacity.
Our problem is the desire to remain at the same level of 10 years ago. Nobody wants to suffer. A man like Junaid Muhammed, if he wants to make money, he read medicine from Russia. He is a Kano man and can make money, but he is not someone you entice with money, and that is why he talks the way he does. The only equivalent is Bala Usman. There are no such people left. Everybody would fall in line to get something to do, but not for the struggle.
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