Dr. Dan Mou, varsity don, seasoned civil servant and security expert, x-rays President Goodluck Jonathan's economic policies and insists its time the transformation agenda transforms into concrete implementable policies and programmes, among other issues.
What is your assessment of the EFCC and corruption in Nigeria?
We suggested the creation of six departments in the proposal. Two departments that they have neglected are the departments of training and publicity and then that of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E). What you need to do is that corruption is also an issue of education of the people as well as monitoring and evaluation. You do not wait until governors are out of office then you start chasing them. Where were you when corruption was taking place? We wanted a situation where the departments of Training and that of M&E are created. This is a department where we had proposed that people be assigned with the ministers or governors to monitor projects, so that if there is a problem with the minister or governor, they will report immediately. When the report now discloses the needed information, the president will now call the minister to order. You don't wait until they have squandered all the money and left the offices, and then you remember that there was corruption. So, the agency and the government have not recognized the M&E aspect of the fight against corruption. Let me tell you something, nobody talks about monitoring corruption in Nigeria. I thought with M&E, corruption would be stopped. And how can this be achieved? If I take N10 billion and hand it over to you and say go and construct houses for Nigerians and then come back and sit to wait for you to finish. I mean you must have to be a saint not to embezzle it.
But you can address these issues just by M&E. You don't wait until the governors have left offices, then you go after them. Thereafter, even if you put them in jail or destroy their destinies, have you solved the problem? No, the money has been spent. You don't operate like that and this is the number one failure that offended me with the EFCC.
Second, we had started entering into MoUs with other nations for sharing information. I had thought that part of the work of the EFCC is also to give information. People need to be educated. Sometimes, issues of corruption means not even managing the funds very well, so that there are ministries given money and at the end of the year, they have not even spent 20 per cent of that money. Are people aware?
If there is a monitoring framework, these things will function unhindered. When they were doing the Vision 2020 document, I couldn't help but made a submission on M&E and the then minister, Dr. Usman Shamsudeen was very gracious and he gave me a beautiful letter commending me. If I give you N2 million to go and eradicate malaria in your LGA and there is no M&E, you just came and signed the money and went away, you must be like Jesus Christ not to touch the money.
Northern Nigeria is claiming that it has been cheated out of power in 2011, and there are subtle moves by the PDP to repeat same in 2015. If this happens, how is it going to affect the politics of the region?
What matters to me is not necessarily where the president comes from, but the performance of that president. I believe that if President Jonathan performs so well, if his transformation agenda and Vision 2020-20 agenda succeeds very well, and there is dramatic change in Nigeria, where everybody has seen that things have improved, I think Nigerians would be on the streets, asking him to contest. If Nigerians can jump on the streets, jubilating a military take-over of government, what more of a civilian government that would perform, by giving them what they call democracy dividends? If he performs exceptionally well, I bet you, Nigerians would not care where he comes from. To a lot of people who have no food on their table, to the unemployed, people under security threats every day, it does not matter to them the origin of the president.
What are President Jonathan's actions that have impressed you so far?
There are certain actions he has taken that have actually impressed me. I have read his transformation agenda and also, his Vision 2020-20. His transformation agenda in a way is part of the implementation of his Vision 2020-20. If you read that document, you will realize that there was a serious attempt made for all sections of the society.
I can tell you that by way of formulation of policies and documentation, Jonathan has done perfectly well. Now, the second dimension is the implementation of those policies. I always wonder why we have remained at the level of an agenda; I want to see these policies being implemented. When will this agenda cease being agenda and become policies to be implemented? Have we not discussed the agenda enough to go into action? That's the next stage he has to focus on.
But there is also some level of torpidity that has come into government that I am bothered about. For instance, you want to reduce unemployment and for two years, you have given just 1,000 youth jobs, given them from N2 million to N10 million to set up industries and you are celebrating it as success. For me, it is nothing, but a pilot scheme that you should have said. If you want this thing to work, you should put proper money there. But after two years and you are giving your mid-term report and you are pointing to only 1,000 people as engaged and, you drum this and jubilate; for me it is very strange.
But have you ever been disappointed with Jonathan's administration?
Yes, if you look at the transformation agenda and Vision 2020-20 document, the first page says there was some relative economic development in Nigeria; however, this economic development has not been marched by poverty eradication and other social indices, like child or infant and maternal mortalities and the rest of them. Now, the documents also say they will pay attention to not only economic development, but also address poverty and other negative social ills and so forth. When the President gave his mid-term assessment report, nobody talked about the issue of poverty. Why was the issue of poverty - whether it has gone down or up - not discussed? The reason it was not discussed is that the policy so far has not addressed the issue and will not be able to address the issue until they change the framework. There is what is known as the neo-classical school in economics, which our Minister of Finance and a lot of them subscribe to, but even the World Bank is no longer using that framework now. Under the neo-classical school, you say let's deal with the global issues of GDP, income per capital and then there is economic development, then it will trickle down to the rural areas, in the hope that they too will develop and poverty will reduce. I want them to know that it doesn't trickle down. They have not sat down to ask how Dubai or UAE made it. They go to China, but they have not stopped to ask those countries how or why their economies are better? For example, if Nigeria were to do cluster industries and use the large quantum of money that is coming in from subsidy withdrawal, and say every LGA set up a cluster industry, you will know the amazing number of people who will get jobs. Now they are saying they will get the youth to go back to the villages and farm, but I and you know that most of our children don't know what a farm looks like. They won't be able to do the physical work. However, if you set up processing industries, it is easier because some youths are engineers and other professionals too and they will happily engage in the processing of raw materials into finished products.
And incidentally, countries have done this before and the records are there. How did China develop? It decided to go to rural areas and created cities there. And in China today, if you want to set up an industry, the government tells you that it must be located in rural area. They can only give the foreign company approval if it agrees to establish it in a rural area. So, Songhai in China for instance was a rural community, but when they told Toyota to carry a company there and the community will move to the place and everybody moved to the place and all of a sudden it became a city. And when you do this, it gives most of the people massive jobs. I know that there are programmes that can give 20 million jobs in a year and after two or three years, other West African countries will be coming to Nigeria to get well paid jobs.