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One year too short to assess Yar’Adua – Adamu Ciroma

Posted by From JACOB EDI, Abuja on 2008/06/02 | Views: 884 |

One year too short to assess Yar’Adua – Adamu Ciroma


Elder statesman and founding father of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, Mallam Adamu Ciroma says those accusing the Yar’Adua government of moving at snail speed are too much in a hurry.

Elder statesman and founding father of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, Mallam Adamu Ciroma says those accusing the Yar’Adua government of moving at snail speed are too much in a hurry.

Ciroma who is one of the “guiding fathers” of the slow-paced Yar’Adua government and who conducted the national convention of the PDP shortly after Obasanjo’s exit from power insists that one year is too short a period to judge any government.

When last week he spoke with Saturday Sun at his Wuse 2 residence to access the 365 days of the Yar’Adua administration against the backdrop of public outcry by Nigerians that the government is moving at snail speed, Ciroma, simply said there was no cause for alarm and that it was a lot better than fast-moving government that may lead to nowhere.
“I am just telling you that a government in a hurry is not a good thing. Government in a hurry is a dangerous government.

What you need is a good and focused government, Ciroma’s announced when asked which he would have preferred between a fast and slow government.

“The system in which President Yar’Adua adopts is entirely different from those of President Olusegun Obasanjo. Let me recall that in the year he [Obasanjo] was due to go, a month before he left, he was commissioning generation, electricity, generation stations, he was commissioning all sorts of things. Everyday he was commissioning something. That was government in a hurry. What is the result of these commissioning? Nothing,” he declared.

He pointedly stated that 365 days is just too short to make an informed assessment of Yar’Adua’s administration considering the perennial problems confronting the nation.
“For example, and this is the biggest problem we have, is that of power. Shortage in electricity. The generation is not sufficient and distribution is made to a number of people that far supersedes what is generated.

“So, this big problem that has been there since 1984 requires a lot of work. And we Nigerians are very impatient people. So impatient that sometimes we make the problem worse, but the long and short of it is that it is a big problem. The hearing in the House of Representatives has already completely exposed the level and the depth in that sector. So we should expect, in the next two to three years, to have these problems taken into account”, he stated.

Insecurity
“Secondly, as far back as 1999, this security whether on the streets, roads or houses, has been there. The insecurity in the oil producing areas has become a source of concern and some parts that are not even the oil producing areas have been affected. So that matter of insecurity is still there and one can say it has intensified in certain areas and better control in other areas. But the problem is still there.
“Then, the problem of petroleum.

That one has been dealt with and I am happy to say that except for occasional hiccups. The supply is there. To me, apart from lack of electricity, the next biggest problem actually is unemployment. This is a problem that keeps ranging on in this country. Again, since 1984 and unless we can deal with this problem, the matter of security and economic development cannot be successfully handled. “Unemployment sometimes is a manifestation of shortage of power because all the industries cannot operate because there is no power. So, if we are creating employment, they have to get raid of people who are already in jobs. Certain industries like Textile have collapsed,” he said.

Any hope?
In spite of the malignant nature of the nation’s problem in the last 24 years, even by his own account, the former Governor of the Central Bank [CBN] and later Finance Minister said there is still hope for the country. “For me, there is hope because this country has a lot of resources and whatever resources you think of. And the basis of economic progress is abundant resources. So when people say the government is slow, I tend to disagree. After the 1966 coup, the Military introduced the concept of government in a hurry, and this idea of government in a hurry has refused to leave the thinking of the people of this country.

“Government should be seen as doing things well and properly, because every step government takes has implications for the lives of the people. So government in a hurry is no virtue. What you need is a government that does things properly. And with the mentality of Nigerians of government in a hurry, problems seems to be compounded. So, I do not accept the idea of government in a hurry. Now, when people are saying government is slow, they are probably saying that we are short of power and one year after there is no power. But I have already explained to you that this problem of power is something that takes time.”

But would you say that Yar’Adua has delivered on his 7-point agenda which is becoming a national anthem?
“You keep on asking me the same thing or raising the same issues in different ways. What is the 7-point agenda? Can you remember the points yourself? It talks about Security, Economic Development, Power Supply, Education etc. So all the items in the seven point agenda are major issues which one should not expect a solution tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. So my advise to you, even as journalist, is to go and re-read what the 7-point agenda is all about, so that you can see that it cannot be dealt with by a government in a hurry.

Yar’Adua does not take that kind of life. Anyway, he has a minimum of four years to go, so he cannot adopt that kind of approach. I believe as an individual that is not his system. So for you Nigerians, or for us Nigerians, he is slow and not in a hurry”.

With your experiences, which system would you prefer, the fast one that you served or the slow one?
In fact, I am so angry with you. I am not going to answer any question from you.

Ok sorry sir. But you said the former President was commissioning projects and it took the nation nowhere, yet you worked with him. What happened?
Don’t ask me things that you have written in the papers before. You are coming to see me because you saw me and requested for an interview, even without the interview, you know why I left.

But you have not said it in my paper?
Why should I say it to your paper? Am I living for your paper? I have said it and if you people who work for THE SUN do not read other papers then I am sorry for THE SUN…Well, I have already said it in other medium, and you can check information from them. Period!

In the course of your answer you said the issue of unemployment started in 1984, the issue of insecurity in 1984, I wonder why you are demarcating it. Is it because you served up till 1984?
Yes. Up till 1983, I was in government and the issue of unemployment was not like it became later, because the government of President Babangida was talking about reducing people in public service. And we never talked about reducing people in public service because the unemployment market was so huge that there is no point making people to loose their jobs.

But they did and they appear to be even proud that they were down-sizing the civil service and so on. Same thing with the issue of power generation. I know under president Shagari, the way we worked hard that the power generation is maintained and increased, but after that, there has not be any addition or increase in power generation, but large increase in power distribution. So you are distributing what is becoming smaller to a large number of people. That means everybody is going to get small share of what is available.

President Shehu Shagari and corruption.
When pricked about his days in the 2nd republic government, Ciroma stopped short of passing a verdict of guilt on almost all the governments the nation has had since independence. He however did not mince words to declare 2nd republic President, Shehu Shagari, the most honest of them all.
“First of all, I must tell you that there was nothing like kitchen cabinet. I was a very senior member of the government. But there was no kitchen cabinet. In fact, kitchen-cabinet is a newspaper expression. For the second part of your question, any thinking person ought to make a judgment if he is old enough. I can honestly, categorically say that that government, Shagari as president is the most honest president I have ever known...

“The problem which arose towards the end of Shagari’s government was, in fact, something which was deliberately encouraged by Nigerian politicians for their own selfish reasons. And what happened towards Shagari’s government oil prices in the world rose between 1979 - 1981 from 7 dollars per barrel to 46 dollars per barrel,. And after 1981, Iran/Iraq war came to an end and oil prices declined to 6 to 7 dollars per barrel.

“Therefore, from 1979 – 1980, the price was going that way and from 1981 it came down this way, and therefore the revenue of Nigeria fell so drastically that the federal government as well as the state government in council were forced back to what it was in 1979 and the academia and the politicians started commenting about politicians stealing the money. They accused politicians or Shagari’s NPN-led government of stealing the money. The money which was not there, the money which was not earned”, he lamented.

Ok some of the allegations may not be true but some ministers were said to have bought private jets and the rice importation scandal…
Even you can make allegations and believe that they are true. Alhaji Bello Maitama never bought any jet. They say they found money in Dr. Alex Ekwueme’s house. What was it? About N30,000. This man was a millionaire even before he came to government. They say that Chief Akinloye was found with one bottle of champagne in his house with his name on the bottle. But if you drink champagne and want your name on it, what is the big deal?

Well, as for Umaru Dikko, he was in UK. He went to study law. What evidence was there to show that he was living in luxury? These are just disgraceful accusations. They went into our houses trying to find our money which they thought we have stolen. It happen to me. Even the furniture in my house, they thought that I acquire them as a minister, but I showed them receipt as at the time I purchased them. So we are the subject of these frivolous, disgraceful accusations.

What of those jailed with evidences?
Are you saying evidence to jail somebody for 200 years? Okay, let me tell you. They say about seven of them misused their security vote or money. What was the amount involved? Just N10m.

It was, an still is, a lot of money?
But is it equivalent to billions of naira now? I may not continue with this interview because you are not fair. In fact, the trial you talked about was not an open court. It was military tribunal and they did what they wanted and jailed some people 100 to 200 years and all sorts of nonsense.

You said Shagari is the most honest president the country has produced. Coming from you who has served two other presidents, is that an indictment?
It’s not an indictment but a statement of fact.

Can you give examples of dishonest in other governments?
Are you not alive?

But you still served a military government afterwards. So what happened?
We came in and accepted to serve because we wanted to serve the Nigerian people and not the military. You think that people just come to government because they want to serve the President or whoever is the head of government? No.

We were invited because they wanted to re-establish that stability. And we all agreed to serve because we are there to serve the interest of the people. I was appointed the minister of Agriculture and when we disagreed with Abacha on the issue of fertilizer, I resigned.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.