Cost Of Governance In Nigeria Obscene – Ajibola | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


Cost Of Governance In Nigeria Obscene – Ajibola

Posted: Jul 5, 2015 at 5:41 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

LAIDE RAHEEM, recently had a chat with the former Nigeria’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Prince Bola Ajibola, in Abeokuta, where he bared his mind on some burning national issues, especially the high cost of governance in the country. Excerpts…

Nigerians are obviously bothered by a myriad of problems. Among all the issues, which one should President Muhammadu Buhari tackle first?

Prince Bola Ajibola

Prince Bola Ajibola

The president should first of all look inwards. Looking inwards will still necessitate two main problems: how to settle the National Assembly situation, that is the Senate and the House of Representatives. It is the National Assembly crisis that needs to be tackled together with the issue of Boko Haram. The Boko Haram needs a lot of military and political solution; he must look for all that within and outside and that he’s already doing. But, apart from that, the present position of unsettled situation in the Senate and the House of Representatives calls for concern because whatever he intends to do, he must be able to carry along the Senate and the House of Representatives. That is the problem now that he is facing. One is absolutely internal and has to do with the government that he’s running, and the other one is the perennial problem of Boko Haram still doing a lot of terrible destruction all over the whole place.


Would you advise the president to probably seek the assistance of National Council of State and other eminent Nigerians in resolving the impasse in the National Assembly?

You see, whatever may be the decision on how to approach the problem, it must also still be a matter that should be taken along the line of democracy. It should be the issue of the majority party which is preponderantly the APC, and looking into it from that perspective, they should put their house in order. They must be able to invite those ones that are in the National Assembly to sit down at a meeting with Bukola Saraki, Yakubu Dogara and the rest of them and see that they can get the whole matter resolved within their political party to start with and then, put that across to resolve the matter; otherwise, the problem will get worse. Already, we heard that Saraki had a problem of being nearly lynched by some people trying to abduct him. So, they must not allow it to deteriorate. They must call their own members in the political party and resolve it within the political party.


There are indications that the new Buhari administration would probe the immediate past regime of former President Goodluck Jonathan in a bid to recover looted funds. What is your take on this probe?

Even that is not the issue at the moment. My own idea is to try to see how best we could retrieve all the money that has been stolen and make sure that they are back into the purse of the government. The way I look at it is that, if they are not able to bring in all those things through negotiation, then they should face the consequences of their act. But if we go about prosecuting, that would involve a lot of people and time and four years may not be enough to carry out that type of assignment. In order not to become an exercise in futility, they should all be advised to come around and give account of their stewardship and get all the money where it has been siphoned.


Many states are currently unable to pay their workers’ salaries. Do you support the Federal Government assisting them?

That is a problem in which those states may not be able to fend for themselves and the best way out for the time being is that if the Federal Government is in a position to assist them and get enough money to pay the salaries of all those workers in the states, the better for the time being. They may enter into an agreement somehow on repayment; deductible possibly from their allocations. But something has to be done in order to bail out the states from the situation they have found themselves. It is very sad and unfortunate. The only thing that occurred to me on this matter is the fact that our decadence, our ruthless and reckless spending, had alarmed a lot of other countries in the world who are part of the buying cartel of our oil and they are of the view that our excesses are becoming abnormal and the kind of madness concerning the way we spend money. While we are still facing all this Boko Haram issue and the rest of our problems, just a limited, few people are walloping in all these excesses and wealth while the majority of the people in the country are already wallowing in penury and poverty, which is sad. Because the whole thing is now permeating into ordinary individual civil servants who ought to be naturally paid their salaries at the end of the month and they have now found out that it would not be so any longer.


There is increasing agitation for reduction in the cost of governance. What is your view about this?

The cost of governance in the country is excessive. In fact, it’s now obscene and immoral. The so-called full-time legislature should be wiped off. There is need now for us to go on part-time basis. There shouldn’t be all this full-time idea again because all these allowances are excessive; nine times higher than their salary is criminal. It shouldn’t be. They should now think of a means of allowing the legislators to go on part-time and not to have a full-time practice of taking so large sums of money. With this, a lot of them will find their way back to their jobs and they will just be paid allowances when they sit.


But the National Assembly said it has reduced its budget from N150billion to N120billion, and even some state governors said they have reduced their salaries and cut down the number of their ministries to save cost. Do you think these measures are enough?

They are not enough, they are just still scratching it. It is cosmetic and window-dressing. They should reduce the whole thing drastically and, whether they like it or not, it’s bound to come. The situation will soon come because what we had all the time been selling is oil and if nobody is buying the oil again – if the cartel made up their mind not to buy from us again – we shall definitely be in problem. We shall go from that top down to the end of our time because there will be nothing left again. We will be left with confetti – the paper that is worthless and then, you’d find that you want to buy a loaf of bread for one million because it’s just ordinary paper. It will be a sad thing. Unless we stand up and do something now and reduce the spending by all these politicians to the barest minimum, we will get into trouble and the trouble is gradually rearing its head. We must have seen the escalation of gangs of robbers, going about disrupting places – in Lekki, Ikorodu, Ijebu-Ode, and things like that. It’s coming when people will now start to take the laws into their hands. Unless we find the means of stopping it absolutely and bringing it down; even saying that they have reduced it to certain billion is not the issue now. They have to reduce it drastically.


As a renowned law officer, would you support the merger of both the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC)?


Of course, definitely. Because keeping them separately is just wasting money. The merger is absolutely advisable because they are virtually doing the same thing. They can merge the two; EFCC and ICPC must be merged. And again, all these our state and federal governments having so many ministers, assistants, special advisers, so many corporations, they should curb all these excesses.