Bala Ka'oje, a Minister of Sports under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, in this interview, says that the All Progressives Congress, APC, is not assisting President Muhammadu Buhari in fighting corruption. Excerpts:
This government came under the mantra of change and fight against corruption as among the cardinal focus, should we be talking about corruption by now?
To be honest with you, fighting corruption is not easy. The government has been trying the best it can within the past four years but corruption is extremely difficult to identify who and who and where and where corruption is taking place and how.
Your party is having crisis virtually in most the states including the President' state. What do you think is responsible for most of these crises and how could they be corrected?
First of all, I will say for us to correct these problems within our polity, the leadership must do things according to the rules. As long as we keep the rules aside, and continue to do things according to our own minds, our own interest, we would continue to have problem within our polity. Again, some of these struggles that you see for political positions and what have you, you shouldn't be surprise but the problem of corruption also plays a major role. This is because in Nigeria today, the easiest way to become a billion is to take a political office, before you know it, you are a billionaire. Many things are not being done according to the rules. Recently the governors in Nigeria said that the NFIU does not have the power and the legal backing to do what they said they want to do regarding to how the money that belongs to the tiers of government is spent.
You can imagine how desperate our leadership today, particularly at the state, is looking at itself. If they remember about that the constitution says about the third tier of government, it's there in our constitution. As far as I can remember, the constitution says that ten percent of what the state gets from the federation account should be redistributed to the number of local government in the state plus what the local government got so that they would be able to develop the rural areas. That is what the Constitution says and I think if that had been followed to the later, and fighting corruption, making sure that nobody takes money that doesn't belong to him, our local government wouldn't be in the level that are today.
Our local governments are just graveyards, there is nothing going on, you can't see one project, year in year out. It's a very sad story, you can't say that you will develop the urban centre and neglect the rural areas because majority of the people who even vote for you are from the rural areas and yet they gain nothing for voting for you and bringing you to power to lead them. The resources that is coming from the federation account is for the people, it's for the local government chairman, it's not for the governor and it's not for the President, it's for the people that they are governing.
So it's only when these issues are taken seriously and followed to the later if we want our country to join other countries that are moving forward in the world and even in Africa.
Also, should we be discussing corruption within the ranks of the party by this time?
Corrupt is a monster that cannot die easily, it's like a dog very difficult to be killed. So, Buhari's tenure of eight years, I want to be sincere to you, will not be enough to fight corruption.
It is going to take long time because we have gotten used to it.
So it's not that easy, I think President Buhari is trying his best but I am not even sure where the party itself is helping him. I am not sure because I haven't seen it on ground.
Why do you say so?
I said so because if you want to correct a system, everybody most behave correctly, you must work by the rule, but here are party leaders who impose candidates. Is it for free that they are imposing these candidates? I'm asking you. There is no way a leader of the party from the southern part of the country would go to Zamfara and said it must be this candidate, there must be something to it. You can't do that and it cannot be for free. This imposition issue, good-fatherism has to stop and its part of corruption, if we stop it, we have reduced corruption in the country.
Does God-fatherism still exist in this government?
Yes it exists a lot. In fact, I don't believe in a number of things that politics may allow you to do. In this party when elections were going to hold, they gave about three options you are going to go: direct primaries, indirect and consensus; you can't do that. Once you do that you have already opened way to problems. Yes, consensus can be done where it is possible to do it, but please, let us allow the citizens of this country to elect their leaders the way they want. Take them to the field and let them elect the person that they want. Let people campaign and then be elected. If we really want to practice the best form of democracy I think the indirect primaries is the best way to go in this country because from the way from the way I see things, consensus appears not working because most people have been going there as a way of enriching themselves. it's difficult to get consensus because it's more of imposition. If you say you want to use the direct primaries which is the one you use the party delegates, most of these delegates for example, belong to the powers that be. So it means the delegates will vote according to directive from above as compared to the indirect which is opened to all card carrying members of the party, you can't bribe all of them, they are too many. But the delegate system allows room for bribery. For me, if I have my way, I will always allow the people to decide who to represent them.