Buhari Should Reduce The Cost Of Governance – Ubani | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Buhari Should Reduce The Cost Of Governance – Ubani

Posted: Mar 16, 2016 at 2:01 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Barrister Monday Ubani was the immediate past Chairman of  the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja Branch.  In this interview withEjikeme  Omenazu, he speaks on the state of the nation, President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption  war and developments in Lagos state.. Excerpts:

A poll group, Governance Advancement Initiative for Nigeria (GAIN) recently came out with a poll indicating that President Muhammadu Buhari’s image rating has gone down.  What is your reaction to this?

 My view about any rating on President Muhammadu Buhari will be in threefold. Firstly, the 2016 budget has not been passed. It is still before the National Assembly. Hopefully, by the end of March, it will be passed. Maybe, one year after the budget is passed, one can then assess the government’s performance. Secondly, the government came in when the oil price has crashed badly in the world market. Nigeria is running a mono-economy. About 90 per cent of her revenue is generated from oil. So, with the crash in the oil price, it will not be fair to judge the government now. Thirdly, the previous government committed havoc in the looting of the economy. From the evidences we are getting from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), it is very clear that the previous administration looted the treasury. Buhari therefore met an empty treasury. So, it will be unfair to accuse his government now of lack of performance. But, one would have expected President Buhari to reduce the cost of governance. For example, he inherited about 10 or 11 presidential aircraft from the previous administration. By now, he would have said something about these aircraft or sold some of them off. The government spends a huge sum of money to maintain these aircraft. This is a government that needs to do a lot in terms of infrastructure. So, why should it spend huge amount to maintain the fleet of aircraft? The government should have also done something about the rampaging Fulani herdsmen, especially the Agatu killings in Benue State. He has however tried in the war against Boko Haram insurgency.

What is your view on the recent report that President Buhari is taking Nigeria into the Islamic Coalition Against Terror? Some people like Governor Ayodele Fayose feel that it is a step towards the Islamisation of the country. Do you agree?

I do not want to specifically accuse the President of trying to Islamise the nation. It is impossible to Islamise Nigeria. No president can do that. The president will not like to dig his own grave. The constitution is very clear about that. If he does that, he will be impeached. On whether joining the coalition is right, if the President complies with the provisions of the constitution, then, we can talk about that. The constitution is very clear on this.
But, President Buhari should be very careful in taking Nigeria into any group. The objective of the coalition is to fight terrorism within those that profess Islam. The countries suffering the acts of terrorism are the ones that join the coalition. It did not say those joining the coalition must be Islamic countries. We must be objective and critical, even as we advise President Buhari to be careful.

Don’t you think that joining the coalition will make the United States, United Kingdom and other friends of the nation who are not Islamic to withdraw from the on-going war against the Boko Haram?
I don’t think that these countries said they will withdraw if Nigeria joins the coalition. So, I will not speculate. It will not be right to speculate what US and UK will do. If they say so, it will be wrong for us to abandon them to join those who want to tackle extremism within themselves.

President Buhari recently said he would not pay the N5,000 allowance to the unemployed as promised by his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC)during the 2015 general elections campaigns. Do you see this as a failed promise on his part?

Well, there have been clarifications by Femi Adesina. He stated that within the 2016 budget, there is provision for social security for the poorest of the poor. But, how do you get the statistics of the poor? Are you saying you will not neglect a lot of people who should be supported? Would it not be abused? What is the data? But, I think some of these things are being worked out.

 What is your take on the view that President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-graft war is tilted against the opposition, especially leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)?

The opposition was in power for 16 years. It is obvious that they are the ones to be investigated. So, I do not see anything partial about it. That explains those who are being implicated in the $2.1 billion arms deal scandal. People are arrested and many are still being investigated because of their mismanagement of funds. For instance, they cannot come and investigate me because I was not in government. It is those who were in government that are being investigated or arrested.

Following the recent bloody clash at Mile 12 market in Lagos, the state House of Assembly advised Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to relocate the market. Do you support such advice?

The Lagos State House of Assembly members must have had their reasons to call for the relocation of the market. If the place is congested and has posed a security threat, it is wise for them to relocate it. But, Lagos State is acting too late on this. Ogun State has already provided a place for tomato sellers and they are moving there. Very soon, all the traders will leave Lagos for Ogun State and Ogun will be reaping a lot of revenue from the taxes they will be paying.
Government must make conscious effort to decongest Lagos, especially a place like Mile 12. If you pass through there when the market is at its peak, you will spend hours in the traffic there. There is need for conscious measures to ensure the relocation of that market to elsewhere.

You live and operate in Lagos State. What are the things the Lagos State government should do to enhance quality of life of residents which it has not been doing well?

Lagos is a home for all. The policies of the state government should be accommodating. Government should try and nip any threat to security in the bud. Lives and properties must be protected. Places where there are cult-related attacks and cultists must be in constant security check. The Lagos State government must intensify tarring of roads and construct more overhead bridges in places where they are needed. Lagos is a Mega City. It must therefore open up the Fourth Mainland Bridge.  Lagos State government should take a cue from the Akwa Ibom State government.  If you go to Akwa Ibom State, all roads are tarred. Let us diversify means of transportation. The railways and waterways must be well developed to serve as alternative means of transportation in Lagos. Means of transportation in Lagos should not be only roads. As a Mega City, we should not be satisfied with what we have now. There must be improvement in infrastructure. The quality of life of Lagosians must improve.

What general advice would you give to the Federal Government?

Generally, the government at the national level should brace up. Many things must be done. Government at the centre should be unbundled. The government needs to be restructured. It must be unbundled the way this government has unbundled the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). You must allow Nigeria to be run efficiently and effectively so that there will be development. Let us allow the federated units to have autonomy. The President, Muhammadu Buhari will succeed. But, he must get the right calibre of people who can run the government in case Buhari is no longer there. Nigeria must not be taken away again by evil men.