APC Did No Wrong Calling Jibrin, Dogara To Order – Bayewu | Independent Newspapers Limited
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APC Did No Wrong Calling Jibrin, Dogara To Order – Bayewu

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Posted: Aug 10, 2016 at 1:29 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Hon. Kamal Bayewu, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, was an aspirant to the Lagos West senatorial seat in the National Assembly in the 2015 elections.  In this interview with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, he speaks on the budget padding crisis rocking the House of Representatives and other issues. Excerpts:

Looking at the budget padding controversy in the House of Representatives, do you think the development is healthy for the image of the nation?

It is neither here nor there.  On one hand, it is not healthy for the nation’s image. But, on the other hand, when you look at it again, the development is healthy because it is trying to tell us that budget padding actually exists.  Remember, President Muhammadu Buhari came out the last time and said he has never heard the word ‘padding’. But, the latest scandal rocking the House of Representatives has clearly shown that there is actually something called ‘padding’ and it did not start now, but had been done in the past. To me, several questions are begging for answers: What is the reason for this padding? How was the padding done? Who are the people involved in the padding? At the end, I think Nigerians must learn a lesson from it. If we only look at the criminal aspect alone or that some people are playing to the gallery, then we will not learn anything as a nation with a view to preventing a recurrence in the future.
A lot of people have given a lot of interpretations to what padding actually is. Some say it is adding figure to the actual. But, I believe that in accounting, which is in and out, somebody must give and the other must receive. The question is: Which head is giving and which one is receiving? Are we saying that the two legs are residing in the legislative arm of government? I believe one leg will be here and the other leg will be outside.  If we have padding from the executive arm, we may not be surprised. But, we are hearing about padding from the legislative arm.  That means the lawmakers are going into illegality. There is the need to question all the Appropriation Acts since 1999 because even former President Olusegun Obasanjo agreed that something like that had been happening and he had been shouting. If true, it means all our Appropriation Acts since 1999 should be called to question. So, I believe that this may not be good for our image. But for our future and posterity, it is good that we are hearing about this. We should go to the root of the matter and wipe it off from our system.

The APC last week issued a statement cautioning Hon. Jibrin over making further statements on the budget padding issue. Many Nigerians said the party, by so doing, is trying to cover corruption and treat the issue as a family affair.  What is your take on this?

I don’t think the party is trying to cover corruption by asking Hon. Jibrin and others to refrain from further comments.  I know that it is normal.  Jibrin has revealed a lot since the whole issue started. He has gone to the anti-corruption agents to tender evidence and he has done other things that he needs to do. Every other thing that he does now is mere propaganda and playing to the gallery. So, the party has a duty to call him to order. Jibrin is a member of the party.  Nearly all the people that are being accused are members of APC, except the Minority Leader.  It is not like the old order where they will label the issue as a family affair. If it is a family affair, the party would have stopped Jibrin from day one before going public. But, the party did not do that. They only said ‘Don’t issue further press statements  on this very issue’, because he has done more than enough already. I think it is right for the party to wade in and take that position. You cannot continue to pour petrol every time in a raging fire. It will get to a point that you will need to douse it. I think that is what the party has done. The whole issue is not good for the image of the party. At the same time, it is good because it is this same government that has come out to tell us that something like this exists.  The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ruled this country for 16 years. Yet, they never told Nigerians that there was padding. This means that this government is seriously out to fight corruption.

Do you think the House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, should resign to allow for independent probe over the budget padding allegation?

In a normal environment, if I were in his shoes, I will step down. But, because we have an environment that is not equitable, an environment that does not recognise your sincerity and innocence, an environment where you have a lot of ambitious people; if they can say ‘Mr. Speaker, step down temporarily, let another person occupy your position while the investigation continues, if at the end of the day, you are innocent, you will return to your position as Speaker’; if that is the case, I don’t see him not stepping down. But, because we have an environment where you are presumed guilty before you are tried, in this kind situation, he may want to hold on to his job.

The federal government last week admitted that Nigeria is technically in recession. As a former bank executive, how do you think we can get out of it?

I think as at now, the FG is trying to deal with more than two variables. When you are dealing with one variable, you can still manage it. But here, you are dealing with two variables.  You want to keep the interest rate low, at the same time, you want to bring down the inflation rate. Again, you are dealing with the exchange rate. So, you have more than two variables that you are contending with. So, in this case, it is always very difficult. If you have just one, you can face it squarely. But, in this case, you have three.  That is why sometimes it is very difficult for Nigerians to see the effect of what the government is doing now, because, when you are trying to contain one, the other one is rearing its head.  As you are keeping the second one, the third one is rearing its head.  I think with time, it will come to equilibrium because you are unrelenting. What the government needs to do is to be more proactive and read into the future.
Some people will say that in other economies, the interest is as low, but here, we are increasing the interest rate. But, the government is saying ‘we are increasing interest in order to discourage the appetite for foreign exchange use’.  In other words, the government is using one of these three variables to work on these other ones. But, I believe that the three will flat out at a point.
As Nigerians, we should reduce our r ostentatious lifestyles, foreign goods and unnecessary items. There are so many things that we do not need in the past that we just go for because we have more liquidity in the system. If we curtail our interest in these things and we now diversify our economy, going away from oil and focusing on agriculture and taxation, which this present government is doing,  I believe things will improve for the better.
Nigerians should understand that a house that is being demolished cannot be rebuilt with the rate it was demolished. So, we must exercise some patience. Sometimes, countries do not go out of recession. It may take some countries five years, or even ten years to come out of recession. We pray that ours will not be up to that. But, there is no country that has been in recession and come out of it without the cooperation of the people.