11 April, 2008

Nigeria : Vision 2020 and War Against Corruption

Hon. Kayode Amusan, who represents Abeokuta North/Obafemi/Owode/Odeda Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives, in this interview with Jaiyeola Andrews, speaks on Vision 2020 being proposed by the administration of President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, arrest of past governors over corruption charges and agitation for creation of state Police among other issues of interest

Do you think the current presidential system of government is really effective in Nigeria?

I would have suggested the practice of parliamentary system of government as an alternative to this presidential system. But to me, it won't augur well because there will be no room for technocrats to come in. It is only politicians that will be ruling. But I still believe that there should be a mixture of the presidential system with the parliamentary system in order to get a good result.

So much has been said about Vision 2020. But events in the polity today, such as epileptic power supply, do not show that the vision is realizable. Do you agree?

I want to tell you that it is realistic because we have just started. The vision is a projection. It is like you are preparing a budget and you expect to make a target revenue. And so, you want to spend some amount of money. It will be clear; it's more of a proposal. We are going to get there. With determination and dedication by the leadership of this government, I think they will get there.

If Malaysia could get there, what's wrong with Nigeria?

And Malaysia was coming behind Nigeria before now. But today, Malaysia is number four in the world economy. So, what are we doing? We should be ashamed to have drifted this backward.

When President Umaru Yar'Adua came on board, people hailed him, saying he started well. But that tune has changed now. There are allegations that he is slow and not focused. What is your view on this?

Let me tell you one thing. There is a maxim that says slow and steady win the race. I believe that our people are so much in a hurry. I still believe that Yar'Adua should be given more time. And I want to tell you that he will deliver. For him to have done what he did in Katsina, I'm of the opinion that he won't disappoint this country.

In what specific area do you think Nigeria needs to improve?

Let me tell you one thing, the major problem rocking this nation is power supply. Other problems are caused by this singular problem. If you talk of unemployment, it is caused by power. Inflation is basically caused by poor power generation. We cannot produce. If you dare to produce, the cost of production will exceed the cost of importation.

So what are we saying?

I believe the major problem threatening this country today is poor power supply. If we are able to resolve power problem, honestly, I can tell you that all other things will fall in place. Although, it has not been easy to tackle this problem. The major factor behind the power sector problem is sabotage. I believe that distributors of generating sets offer bribe to officials in the power sector. Therefore, we need to look into sabotage if we must get a good result.

How would you respond to the opinion that that the much touted war against corruption by this government is not a sincere effort?

Well, let me tell you something. War against corruption in Nigeria goes beyond the application of rule of law. We need to intensify the war because if you don't do so, things will continue to get worse. To me, I don't believe in hiding under the cloak of rule of law, to fight corruption. We need to take more drastic steps to discourage people from perpetrating this act. And if we don't, we won't help the unborn children, because the young ones will have in their mentality that the most pleasurable thing to do is to embezzle government money.

But during the last administration, people were scared from corruption by the advent of the (Economic and Financial Crimes Corruption) EFCC and the (Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission) ICPC. They were jittery. But this time around, the way the card of rule of law is being played, some politicians will dare to go into corruption and later exonerate themselves from the act.

So, I still believe we need to do a lot in terms of fighting corruption, because it is another cancer eating deep into this country. I believe it is even worse than power problem. And when you look at the level of corruption in this country, initially it was a tradition, but today, I believe it has become an epidemic. It looks like a disease which has no cure. We must look critically into it and do something urgently to save this nation from this disease. Otherwise, it may ruin this country.

What is your position on the recent controversy over the ceding of Bakassi to Cameroon?

Well, I agree with the former president's argument that he consulted the National Assembly before taking the decision. The truth is that the order to cede Bakassi to Cameroom, was a verdict of the world court and I don't think there's anything we can do about it.

We'd signed so many agreements before it went to the Cameroonians. The former president actually consulted the then leadership of the National Assembly. The man even tried his best, to see that some parts of the area remained in Nigeria. But Cameroun didn't take it lightly with us. So, I want to tell you that it was done in good faith. We shouldn't blame the Federal Government for what it had done.

Back to your constituency here in Ogun State, what have you done to better the lots of your constituents and what further plans do you have for the people?

Well, let me start from issues that arose from the allowances we received. The allowance was about N300,000 and it was meant to assist the lawmaker in securing an office, so that your constituents can know where they can go to make complaints when need be. It was mainly to devise a way of touching their lives.

There's no member of the House who was given any money to go and construct roads or boreholes or build schools. And in terms of what the legislator can bring back home, members do try their best when it comes to budgeting.

Whenever we are asked to start budgeting, we normally come back home to meet with elders and ask them what they need. Actually, we normally make sure that these things reflect in the budget, but when it comes to implementation, we are not in charge. Our own is to make sure that this thing gets into the budget, so that the implementation of such a budget could be carried out. But the executive arm will say there's no fund, so what can we do?

We are not in charge of funds and so, there's no way we can dip our hands into the treasury to fund projects. So, if you looked at the 2007 budget, you would see a lot of efforts I made on rural electrification, but was anything done? At times when you go to the ministry to ask for money, they will keep deceiving you and saying, there's no fund yet; due process certificate is not out, all sorts of complain.

Source : Nigeria: 'War Against Corruption Has Lost Momentum'

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