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Daniel: Govs Are Endangered Species

Posted by From Kola Ologbondiyan in Abuja on 2005/10/20 | Views: 505 |

Daniel: Govs Are Endangered Species


Ogun State Governor Gbenga Daniel yesterday reviewed corruption allegations against some state governors and said that the chief executives of the 36 states are “endangered species.”

Ogun State Governor Gbenga Daniel yesterday reviewed corruption allegations against some state governors and said that the chief executives of the 36 states are “endangered species.”

Bayelsa State Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha is on trial in London on a three-count charge of money laundering. Before him, Plateau State Governor Joshua Dariye was also arrested in London. He, however, jumped bail. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has vowed to repatriate billions of naira worth of assets some governors have abroad even as the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) said it has enough evidence to prosecute 16 governors.

But Daniel, who spoke during a courtesy visit to THISDAY office, Abuja, said that governors are not more or less corrupt than others in the society or any less corrupt.

According to him, “I don’t see governors as any more corrupt than the other segments of the society or less corrupt. It is just that, normally, because they are custodians of the wealth of the people, they have a greater responsibility to live above board. That is why personally I have no problems if governors are under this kind of searchlight. But it is also important that in doing this, everybody must not just be grouped together.

“We mustn’t also forget that governors are not poor people. And, if they were poor, many of them wouldn’t have become governors because of the kind of politics that had always been played here.

“There are governors that we know who had been multi-billionaires before they became governors and that does not mean their life-styles must be diminished because they have become governors. The point I’m trying to make is that there is no doubt in my mind that it is not excusable for anybody who is placed in a position of trust to misbehave but having said that, if we look at the whole gamut of the society, I don’t think the governors are any more corrupt than the other segments."

He added: “Today, even if a governor does something, because he is governor, things that he does normally that nobody blinks an eye, if he now does it now, such a governor is in trouble and that is actually the essence of what I said (that governors are endangered species).

“But on a more serious note, I am not aware of anybody who spent anything less than hundreds of millions to become governor, because of the way the politics is played. I know the kind of big holes that were in my pocket before attaining this position.

“It shouldn’t be that if I spend 10% of that money now people will now say he is governor. I think people should go back and find out first how did he found the N1 billion that he spent for the election? It is not fair if somebody spent a billion of his money for election and now he spends say a hundred million and you are now assuming that because he is now governor, then definitely he is spending state fund. That is the point I am making."
Asked if the perception that governors are corrupt is not borne out of their own actions and dispositions, Daniel said, “I am not in a position to judge because some of the things that I hear, on a more serious note, look to me like a shock because I can only talk of Ogun state.

“Some of these things that I hear are just not possible in my state. The system is there, it is running. And, even at the inception of this administration, I gave a lot of powers to my budget man that if I sign something that he thinks I shouldn’t sign, I gave him the power to say no.
“So it is therefore not possible under the system that we run, this kind of thing we are hearing is like fiction to us, it is not possible, not in Ogun state, I can talk of Ogun state. I don’t know of any other state."
Daniel who oversees affairs in the President's home state described the alleged third term bid of President Olusegun Obasanjo as existing in the “realms of speculation,” adding that, “Nigerians must think that there is something hidden.”

“Seriously, I cannot claim not to have heard that some people, which is also not unusual, keep talking of a third term or an elongation of tenure. I think all of this came from the National Political Reform Conference, where they have made certain recommendations.

“One of the recommendations I heard of was serving single six-year term for governors and the president and I think what is probably going on now might be as a fallout of that. People are saying, Okay, if it is going to be 6 years, when does it start, is it going to start after 2007 or when the constitution is enacted? Is it going to be that the constitution will be enacted from 2007 or is it from 2006 or from where? And the people who have served the first two terms, the second term now, will they have a chance under the new constitution or is it going to be that after their own term, it is all over?

“I think it is still in the realms of speculation, but you trust Nigerians, people usually must think that there is something that is hidden. You know, Mr. President will not talk. He is not going to say anything to anybody. He has not spoken to me and if you say I am his number one governor and he has not spoken to me, I don’t know who he has spoken to.

“So, I see a lot going on in the realms of speculation, but whatever happens, I think what we must strive to protect is that under any circumstances, whatever the arrangement is, democracy must be allowed to reign. There must be election that is free and fair so that even if the wrong rules are made, Nigerians have the right choice to go into the elections and actually do what they think they have to do."

Daniel, who also spoke on the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) congresses in his state, said “no life has been lost as a result of the congresses in Ogun state and I am talking very seriously. To the best of my knowledge, if I am allowed to take it further, no life has been lost to political violence as a consequence of any PDP engagement since the inception of this administration in Ogun state.

“However, I must say that it is true that some of our members misbehaved in the course of those congresses.
“You must have heard that in the last 24 hours we have suspended one council chairman and one other official of government for a behavior that we think is not in consonance with the way we conduct things in Ogun State."

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

Actually translates to bravehearted.