13 October 2007

Nigeria: Too Early to Judge Yar'Adua on Anti -Corruption - Ex-Rep. Baba-Ahmed


Abuja — Ex. Rep. Datti Yusuf Baba-Ahmed is 39 years old and has a BSc in Economics from the university of Westminister, UK.

He had worked in the security Printing and Minting, Lagos before joining active politics and getting elected into the House of Representatives. He recently dragged the INEC to court over the past elections held and has always been vocal about anti-corruption issues.

Weekly Trust spoke to him. Excerpts:

How well do you think Yar'Adua's anti-corruption war is working?

Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed: I think we have another two years to wait and see the truth about Yar'Adua. I have faulted his stance on the rule of law and anti-corruption. All the real governors that should be in the net are not in the net. I am not advocating that, really, but Nuhu Ribadu said it. Let the nation call him to his words.

On the rule of law, we should wait and see when Yar'Adua goes for second term, when there is need for political corruption.

I would still say that it is too early to assess Umaru Yar'Adua. I will like to rate him not low but over average. But there's a small question mark. Undoing your predecessor's infamous policies is the easiest thing to do. You can argue towards reducing corruption across society and social vices.

What do you think about what is going on in the House right now?

Baba-Ahmed: Being that I am not a member at the moment, I can say it is quite unfortunate. I wouldn't want to say whose side I have taken - whether Madam [Patricia] Etteh should resign or not. It is not in my place to do that. But speaking as someone who used to be in the House, I'd say it is being dragged in the mud. I think the second lowest ebb of the national assembly, and for that matter democracy in Nigeria, was the moment an Honourable Member was calling the speaker 'ole' (thief). I think the whole institution has been rubbished and embarrassed. It is unfortunate. It doesn't feel good seeing that, because I have worked there before and I hope to work there in the future. Let them fix it before I get there.

How far have you gone with your case against INEC?

Datti Baba-Ahmed: We have been able to tender all our evidence through our witnesses to present my testimony. Just as my statement, under oath, was being taken along with my evidence, when the defence counsel abruptly said he needed a couple of hours. He therefore called for an adjournment which the tribunal did not agree with. It was beyond our control, so we have adjourned to 18th. By the grace of God I am still very confident that we will win the case. The truth will always prevail and it is clear to us and to observers that it is a defenceless defence the respondents have, because the first respondent himself is not even a witness in his own case. INEC have only one witness whose testimony is at our mercy. We have observed the anomalies in the receipt and verification of electoral materials, all before a credible tribunal. By the grace of God it will work out. It might be seen as slow, but surely we are getting there. Once you have faith, you are covered. I believe there is a purpose for my absence in the House right now.

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