Jonathan Can’t Dictate To Buhari On Who To Probe – Ubani | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Jonathan Can’t Dictate To Buhari On Who To Probe – Ubani

Posted: Jul 30, 2015 at 1:25 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

MONDAY ONYEKACHI UBANI, a social crusader and public affairs analyst is a former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja branch. In this interview with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI,  he speaks on the probe of the immediate past administration, appointments of ministers and alleged marginalization of the South East region in choice of appointments. Excerpts:

There has been controversy over the statement credited to the presidency that President Muhammadu Buhari will only probe the immediate past administration under Goodluck Jonathan? Some are alleging it is attempt to witch-hunt the former president. What is your take on that?

Monday Onyekachi Ubani

Monday Onyekachi Ubani

I am not a spokesperson for president Buhari but I will make my comments in an objective manner. President Buhari has a right to choose who to probe and what to find out. And I have this impression that president Buhari actually had an understanding that some of the malfeasance of the former administration will be looked if they are not too nauseating. But from what I gathered, when the new government came in, the records were so bad that it will be a total disservice for the president not to look into the books.  The records of the immediate past administration were so bad, especially considering the iniquitous manner with which they withdrew money from the treasury. It will be very immoral on the part of Buhari’s regime to overlook it. One of the reasons why people like us voted for Buhari was on the issue of fighting corruption and to make sure the impunity in the system is stopped. A lot of corruption took place under the last administration. If you travel abroad and hear how much is being stolen from the treasury and stashed abroad, government officials buying properties all over the place, private jets and so on, it will be very immoral for this government to close its eyes and refrain from probing the administration. As to probing other past regimes, including that of former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, if in the process of probing Jonathan’s administration and other facts came up, I am sure there is no way Buhari will stop at that because he said even hi political party members will not be spared. But he must have a limit with which he will go with the probe because if he now says that he will probe all the past administrations, which may take him as far back as 1960 when Nigeria gained independence. I believe if former President Jonathan upon taking over the government and saw that there were some level of rot and fails to do what he is supposed to do, it is an indictment even on his own part. He owes Nigerians explanations for not even probing the previous administrations that he came after. And now he is now assigning the responsibility to Buhari to do that for him. That shows how weak he was and the fact that he was not supposed to have been the president. The collateral damage he has done to this country will take us many years to recover from. And so it does not lie in the mouth of Jonathan to tell Buhari whose government to probe.

 

 Some Nigerians are also not comfortable with the idea of appointment of Ministers by September as announced by the presidency. Are you not bothered about that?

Being a stakeholder who participated in the electoral process and who voted for change, I will do everything within my power to look at issues relating to this new government from a positive angle until there is reason for me to doubt the sincerity of president Buhari. But now, I have not seen any cause to do that. What I have seen is a man that is determined to do the right thing and solidly laying a solid foundation in order to clear the Augean stable. Now, on the issue of appointing ministers, there is a recommendation by the panel he constituted to reduce the number of ministries to 19, which is the Ahmed Joda-led committee. This recommendation has to be effected before the president begins to appoint ministers. He cannot just appoint ministers now without any ministries for them to head. There are also many things that needed to be done before he can bring ministers into office.  Issues of checking of books of the previous ministers, the president needs to tidy all those books and see how the ministries were run before he brings in new ministers. Those clamouring for him to appoint ministers now definitely want him to fail. The moment he rush and brings in new ministers who now compounds the entire situation, the same people will be the first to criticize him and say that he is not competent to run the country. I believe if the president decides to take his time and ensure that the people he will appoint into his cabinet are men of integrity, men of unquestionable character, patriots and men with burning passion to serve this country, if he gets them between now and September, it is not too long. So, I will advice Nigerians to be patient with the president. Every administration has its own style and this may be his own style in order to get it right, clear the mess and start on a clean slate. If he gets it right, those of us who are patient will applaud him, while those who are criticizing him now will shut their mouth.

 

 The appointments made so far by the president has also generated uproar in some quarters, with some alleging that he is trying to favour a particular region that gave him the highest vote while punishing other regions where he received few votes. What is your take on that?

We also need to exercise patience on this matter. The president has over 6,000 appointments to make. You cannot just use about 8 or 9 appointments he has made so far to judge him that he is marginalizing some section of the country. That is being hasty. My belief is that some people do not know when to stop political campaign and know that election is over, it has been won and lost. The man that has won should be given the maximum cooperation and time to rule. Some people still think they are campaigning and that is why they open their mouths to say all manner of things. If I am in the shoes of Buhari, those things won’t bother me at all. The point is that he must give Nigeria direction. Now the appointments he has made so far are those that has to do with personal needs and security. Will you bring in somebody you don’t really know or have trust in to come and secure you? He has to appoint people he knows and trust to do that. So, I don’t see any reason for all these hues and cries on marginalization of the South East or favouritism of the North or any other region.  We must be very careful with things we say. I believe the president is an agent of change and social crusader. We elected him on that platform, not as a politician but as an agent of change who has come to change something that is fundamentally wrong with us a nation. My advice to him is that he must love all the citizens of this country. He must have a good motive for this nation. He must take the entire country as his constituency. He must resist the temptation to take his government as a northern presidency. He has come to serve Nigerians and he was voted by many progressive-minded people from many tribes of this country. So, he must be a president for all.