Former Sokoto State governor, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa bared his mind on national issues in a chat with Daily Sun and stated that although the EFCC arrested and detained him unjustly, he has no grudges against the Federal Government or President Muhammadu Buhari.
He reasoned that his arrest does not imply guilt already and wants the EFCC to do a tidier work in investigation.
While he called on Nigerians to align with the government in the fight against corruption, he also said the nation made a terrible mistake in 2012 when it resisted former President Goodluck Jonathan’s move to remove the fuel subsidy.
He cautioned Nigerians not to do the same in respect of the anti-corruption struggle of the present administration.
Making much from little
When we took over from the military in 1999, the crude oil price for a barrel was $9 per barrel. And in 2007, it increased to $30-$40 and yet we left a lot of legacies in our various states at that period.
I, for instance, left almost N12b in government treasury. But from 2007 to 2015, unfortunately oil rose above $100 per barrel and then one will wonder, those who left in 2015, they have to look for bailout from the Federal Government despite the amount they collected in allocations from 2007 to 2015.
So, I just compare the tenure with my eight years in office, and eight years after I left, what we met, what we received, we managed and our legacies are still there to show. In my own state, you can still go there and ask what has happened in the season after we left. Despite the little money we got, we left money. Therefore, I asked myself from 1999 to 2007 we have got a leader who was cut out to fight corruption because, it was former President Olusegun Obasanjo who created the EFCC. Whatever name you give him, whether to witch-hunt or anything else, at least, it assists in fighting corruption. For whatever reason, at least it laid the foundation, recognizing corruption and he fought it. Whether he fought it rightly or wrongly, at least it achieved something. Even forming the commission that is going to fight corruption is an achievement. So, he gave attention to that, and every Nigerian was aware of the commission created by the Obasanjo administration.
After he left, the Yar’Adua administration didn’t do much, Jonathan administration didn’t do much and that’s what made corruption to grow to the level we have today.
Today, corruption has become a general thing as you can see that 90 per cent of Nigerians are corrupt, because when you go to the grassroots level, corruption starts from there. The electorate will demand money before voting a candidate, no matter how good such is or the ideology she has. All that the voter wants is how much the candidate is ready to give. Then he who is going for the election will first look for money, whether he borrowed from the bank or his godfather will sponsor him is immaterial. That is the beginning of corruption, from the grassroots to the local government level, state level to national level. The electorate are corrupt; the politicians are either corrupt or forced to be corrupt because when they get to the office they are elected for, their first concern is how to pay the money back. They cannot get this money without the collaboration of the civil servants, because governors do not write the memo or raise the voucher.
The civil servants will collaborate in bringing out the money and then you can see how corruption spreads all over.
For the Buhari administration not to take part in corruption is a blessing to everybody. We should not see it as Buhari fighting corruption, but as a war, we should join hands to fight. Buhari cannot do it alone and the danger is that if corruption is ignored, it is going to swallow the country, because we can now see the danger of where we have found ourselves.
As I said earlier, where are all the money from crude oil that they all vanished and government has to send bailout to states? But what President Buhari did is that before bailing them out, each state had to set out up a committee to investigate how they got the loan, what they did with it, how they incurred the debts and all.
New anti corruption strategy
For this administration to survive the fight against corruption, it is just not about using EFCC or ICPC. I expect the government to open an office for public awareness against corruption, while at the same time the government is fighting corruption with the EFCC. Also, it should create an avenue for public awareness for fighting corruption, a special office should be opened for campaign for the electors for the common man to see the dangers of corruption. Before arresting people or taking any prosecutorial steps, we better start with how to prevent corruption instead of curing the ailment when it is already alive.
In fact, we have to go with both of them so that we can fight corruption better because as I have said, virtually in every sector, the civil service, the politicians, even people on their own, there corruption everywhere. Today, Nigeria is in a serious problem where we are still taking loans to survive.
The military regimes left the country with nothing. But Obasanjo was able to pay everything, now we are going back to square one, borrowing everyday in a way that makes one ask where we are headed.
We frustrated Jonathan on fuel subsidy
Nigerians have a wrong culture to followership. I recall in 2012 when former President Goodluck Jonathan removed the fuel subsidy how the whole Nigeria came out shouting against it. I am sure he had seen the problem of subsidy to the economy coming, hence the plans to remove the subsidy.
But Nigerians never gave him support. Four years later, people have seen it the other way. If the subsidy matter was resolved and removed then, President Buhari would have got an easy ride to continue and we won’t be talking about subsidy again.
It is the same thing with the corruption war; if we don’t help Buhari to fight corruption, after his tenure, whoever is coming to take over is going to have more problem than we have today. I believe we don’t have any country but Nigeria and we have to tell ourselves the truth on the situation of this country.
In Nigeria, it is common to see someone that never had the means of owning a building get to the office of the local government chairman and leaves as the owner of the best mansion in the area.
Also, someone who never had a little building when he became governor, leaves office with houses in almost every city in Nigeria and abroad.
Yet, the society would not probe to find how he got the money to own the buildings he got while in office. Unless people realize that it is their money that got the person in power those property. Because of the laxity of the people, some others that come to power later have the same mindset of stealing and leaving without questions asked. Whenever Nigerians start asking questions on accountability from leaders, then things would change for good and the trend of corruption will come to an end. So, these are the things people see happening but take them as the norm. Today, Nigerians take politics as where to make easy money, therefore, everybody jumps out from professional services and training to join politics and get their share of the easy money.
Politics not alternative livelihood
That’s the danger. If the industry is absent, why can’t we create it ourselves for survival?
How do we create alternative means of livelihood in Nigeria so we don’t go on picking people who stole money because we don’t have alternatives of making it?
When we see the scenes of which unless you join politics or you are looking for easy means to make money, that is the reason we say, let government create awareness so that people cannot just lie down and try to make easy money because this is public fund and you cannot live on it as means of survival. We have to create a means of livelihood because there are lots of ways people can create a means for themselves without going to take public fund.
Recent EFCC arrests
The reason for my arrest is best known to the EFCC. I wasn’t in the country when they came to my house looking for me and then I got in touch with them and got my lawyer to write them that I am not in the country and when I come back, I will report myself. Five days later when I arrived, I took myself there, nobody invited me again, I took myself there as promised, that I will report. I went, I was confronted about N100 million said to be given me by Sambo Dasuki.
I accepted that he gave me the money and I gave it to those who are meant to be given the money to and I said I didn’t give then cash but cheque and the money was sent through their account so, I don’t want to go far because the matter is in court. I am accused, until I prove myself innocent.
You know, once investigation is on, people get the report, and it doesn’t mean that when you are invited by the EFCC, you are corrupt. It doesn’t mean that when you are checked, you are corrupt. The investigators can do it wrongly or rightly but what they are doing is finding out whether what they were told or saw is true. It is left for the person to go and investigate himself. Therefore, I am not going to accuse or blame EFCC for inviting me because they are investigating and in the course of investigation anything can happen. That is the reason they are not the judge, they investigate and you are taken to court, then you defend yourself. I don’t see any reason if one is invited to the EFCC or taken to court, and such people would be dubbed corrupt since investigation can lead to any length. I advise that the EFCC should improve its approach. The agency should not be discouraged, provided it does the right thing.
Can’t we fight corruption without stepping on toes
I am one of the victims; I have been detained for three weeks before taken to court, but thanks to the FCT high court that gave an order that no magistrate court should give an order for the EFCC to detain any accused person. So, you see we are progressing. If we make a mistake and corrected, the nation moves well. I believe the order made by the FCT chief judge has been taken, so no more court order from magistrate court to arrest people. When EFCC does not get the order again, then we are progressing. We are the first victims and those coming later will not be affected, but at least we are learning and we are moving forward.
As an individual, I can surely say, I didn’t collect any money directly from the NSA, but let us not go to that, because as I said, the matter is in court. Let us hear it from the court.
Pleased with EFCC
What I am saying is that if the EFCC makes mistakes in the course of its activities and goes ahead to correct them, then there is progress. They too are in the process, because when they started in 2004, they didn’t have the experience they have today. The truth is that they are supposed to get more experienced people in the system so that it will be a civilized platform for handling corruption investigation. No matter what, we cannot say we know everything at once, where we make mistake we correct it and then it’s the duty of the media to draw attention of whoever that is going wrong that it should be corrected.
Anti-corruption as only business
That is the danger of corruption and that is what Mr. President found himself into, for the country to move forward you must have resources, the government of the day is broke and he has said it and the problem we are facing now is not just corruption.
The president is facing a lot of problems, aside from corruption, security, economy, these are the most fundamental issues. Number one, we should pity this man. I am not a member of APC, but I am a Nigerian and he’s my president. When he joined politics in 2003, he had his own ideology. When he was a military head of state, he fought indiscipline and that is why people believe that for him to be elected president, he will apply the same measures; so he joined ANPP, which I happened to be a member of the party and also a national chairman, he bought his ticket, we had our own ideology different from PDP. That was the reason he decided to go for ANPP because we have the same ideology, unfortunately, in 2003, he contested and lost. We tried in 2007 although he contested and lost.
After that time, ANPP changed so much body from the real ideology, and people started getting out to join PDP and then the whole thing was messed up. In 2011, he just realized he had to form his own party, the CPC, so that he gets his own ideology he would implement if he gets power.
Unfortunately for him, he lost again, then in 2014/2015, the party which is called APC was formed. The APC came with many ideologies drawn from the PDP, ACN, CPC, ANPP, APGA and many more. Every kind of thing exists there. So, APC was formed but with no one’s ideology there, because 60 per cent of APC are from PDP, so Mr. President found himself in a fix, in the sense that he doesn’t know how to push it, because different ideologies, different thinking exist there. One can simply say the APC has no ideology at all.
You see, it is good we understand this problem before we can start judging this man of his weakness, whether he’s baba go slow, because he’s confused now, in the sense that all these political parties that were merged into APC have their own ideologies and thinking all different, so we find ourselves in a fix. That is where we are today.
No regret supporting Jonathan
As General Buhari found himself, that’s how I found myself. I have never been a member of PDP since its creation since 1998 until 2014. So, my ideology is different from theirs, otherwise I should join them, I found myself in PDP by accident, what I mean by accident is that PDP is part and parcel of APC. At a point I was told to hand over to the APC governor in my state the leadership of the party and my followers in the state said, over their dead body. That’s what pushed us into PDP, so I joined PDP at state level with my people without even coming to Abuja or anybody lobbying me. When the president heard I joined PDP, he couldn’t believe it, because with all the pressure even during Obasanjo’s tenure to join PDP, I didn’t.
Mind you, I am a professional politician, I have an ideology so I have to defend my ideology and my profession. Politics is my profession, I started as a local government councillor in 1976. So, this is my profession, and I still stand on what I believe in. I was forced to join PDP just to get my people have a point to contest for election. You can see that the way the president by chance found himself in the APC where there are no ideologies and at variance with Buhari’s way, that is the same way in found myself in the PDP. So, I have no reason regretting being in the party or supporting Jonathan last year.
How long will you stay in PDP?
As long as it exists, I will remain in PDP. You know the APC is the same as PDP. I used to call it PDP 1, PDP 2, because virtually everybody in APC used to be in the PDP. For instance, the former number two man in PDP who ruled this country for eight years as vice president is a member of the APC.
If you count all the governors, they are virtually members of PDP. Former two national chairmen of the PDP are now in APC. I better stand in this when there are all mixed up with ideologies, because we ought to have ideology, we have to respect one ideology, all these problems we are facing, things are not going fine are because we don’t respect the constitution of the parties. If we respect the constitution of the party, there is the manifesto, the manifesto has its own guideline of what the party has plans to do for the electorates, the local government chairman, the governor, the president are supposed to comply with the manifesto of the party. The national and state assemblies are supposed to work with the ruling party to implement the manifesto. Today, you can count governors, either from APC or PDP that can’t tell you what is in the manifesto of their party and electorate, doesn’t even know what is called manifesto. If they know, they should be in a position to approach the local government chairman, the governor or the president and demand that this is the manifesto, this is what you said, but now you are fighting from another angle, which is not in the manifesto.
Also, the leadership of a party is supposed to be superior to any elected officer because the leadership is a messenger representing the party. So, it is the duty of the parties to supervise elected officers, but in the Nigerian system, when you become the president or the governor then you become the owner of the party. Therefore, you dictate to the leadership of the party and not the party dictating to you. It is mix-ßup we have found ourselves in and need to solve.