Honourable Kayode Amusan, a former member of the House of Representatives and governorship aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State in 2015, speaks with BOLA BADMUS on various issues of national interest.
It is almost two years since President Muhammadu Buhari took over power and Nigerians have expressed different opinions about his administration. Can we have your view on it?
First and foremost, when Buhari came on board as the president, there was need to give him some time to see how he will move the nation forward and having spent close to two years in office, I think there is need to assess his performance. We are getting to almost the end of the second year and I think for somebody to have come on board as the president of a nation for 365 days times almost two years, he should have impacted immensely on that nation. As far as I am concerned, I am yet to feel or see the impact. Rather, we are being fed with the information on a daily basis that the last administration has bastardised the economy of the nation instead of doing the needful.
Do you also agree that the economy was bastardised?
Let us agree that Nigeria’s economy was bastardised. But with good economic managers, I am optimistic that we will excel and not be where we are today as a failed nation. But we have seen a situation in this country where the economy has been so bastardised than what we are presently experiencing and somebody came on board as the president and revived the economy and equally redeemed Nigeria’s image before the international community.
Who was that?
Let’s take the example of former President Olusegun Obasanjo who came on board in 1999. What was the position of the economy when he came on board? When OBJ assumed power, there were less than $4 billion in foreign reserves and over $60 billion as IMF debt. But before Obasanjo was sworn into office, he knew what he was going there to do and had his blueprint and road map ready. And when he took over, he kept up with his promises. Those things he knew he could not do with the system, he went out of the country to seek the help of the United Nations. He consulted with World Bank and they gave him support by giving him some Nigerians that were working there to come and assist him in repositioning the economy.
So, from the external reserve of less than $4 billion, it was taken to almost $46 billion before he left, while an IMF debt of over $6 billion then cleared either through repayment or debt forgiveness. There was no debt anymore and that is the type of leadership expected of anybody that is coming to rule us.
I expected President Buhari, by virtue of his repeated attempt at the presidency for four consecutive times to have had a formidable road map to redevelop Nigeria. Once he knew he was going to contest again, he should have been reviewing his blueprint after every election and therefore he will update himself with what the sitting president has done well and the ones he has not done well so that he can improve on whatever is on ground. But since President Buhari started his campaign and won the election, I have not seen any of his blueprint or road map.
However, the situation in which we find ourselves today as far as I am concerned is uncalled for. Probably I am thinking as a businessman since I am not an economist. I stand to be corrected. But what I am saying in essence is that I don’t see this economy being too difficult to manage with good hands. Let me touch on some of the reasons we fell into a recession. I am of the opinion that the issue of blocking domiciliary account was one of the problems which caused a lot of panic in the system. Most of the foreign currencies that we were trading with in the system were moved out of the country.
Secondly, the 41 items/products banned halfway and banned from accessing Forex from banks, their importers were left with going to the black market and source for funds to import raw materials, is also another problem. The third is the issue of Niger Delta crisis. When this administration came on board, they said there was corruption in the amnesty programme. Tell me any sector of the economy where there is no corruption, including the Presidency. What is expected of this administration is to separate the amnesty programme from corruption by introducing biometrics to know the actual number of those entitled to the programme, build up on the programme and then prosecute the corrupt officials.
During the last administration, our production capacity was about 2.2 million barrels per day. But today, where are we? That is about 800,000 barrels per day. So, that is to say we have a shortfall of 1.4 million barrels per day. If we are selling at an average price of $50 per barrel, that means we are losing about $700, 000 daily. If such amount is added to our revenue, shall we be talking of borrowing to fund our national budget? That’s the more reason I believe this recession is man-made caused by trial and error approach.
The government has listed fight against corruption as an area where it has achieved a lot. Can you give us your view on that?
Well, I will enjoin others to commend Buhari in the area of eradicating corruption. But I see the efforts as one-sided as if only the opposition parties have corrupt politicians. I perceive this as a means of silencing the opposition. To fight corruption genuinely, it must be done across board. Nobody should be shielded because he or she is from the ruling party. It’s not to say that I am supporting corruption. When I was in parliament, I picked the EFCC Act and amended it to capital punishment, but not even a single member supported the idea. And because I did not get any support, I had to drop the idea. Whatever that is needed to minimise or wipe away corruption, I will lend my support totally.
On the issue of plea-bargaining, I have condemned it because it encourages people to be more corrupt. For example, an individual stole N1 billion and you are asking him to bring N100 million to get bail and from that moment, he will use the money left to fight the government, paying the judges, lawyers, prosecutors and all others to defeat the government in the court. Is that the way to fight corruption? Has anybody been jailed?
During Obasanjo era, he didn’t spare his own party members, his party members were sent to prisons, some people even died during that time. By my analysis and assessment, the current anti-corruption drive is a child’s play. He is only chasing members of the opposition parties.
If you are to advise Buhari, what would you tell him?
He should look inwards and not concentrate his anti- corruption war only on the opposition. Then we will know he is serious about corruption war.
You are a chieftain of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the party is in crisis currently when people believe the crisis ought to have been over. So, what is the problem?
The crisis is persisting because of external forces. Though PDP has its own problem like any other party, external forces are fueling the crisis. Let’s use Ondo election as a case study. We all witnessed what happened and how some PDP members were used to frustrate and even campaign against their party.
The strategy is simple. All the ruling party needs to do is to fish out some elements within the opposition who have corruption or extradition case and commission them to play a hatchet game.
Do you agree with insinuation that Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, the PDP factional chairman, is part of the external forces?
Absolutely, those are the forces I am referring to. With the support of APC, they can achieve whatever right or wrong and that is exactly what is happening.
How will the party get out of this mess?
I won’t tell you that one here. We also need to keep our own strategy to ourselves as well because the moment you voice it out, it will no longer be achievable.
Is there any possibility that the party can get out of the crisis?
The probability is there if they can flush out all the bad elements within the party. But one thing is that these external forces would strangulate any party that poses a threat. They wouldn’t allow any other party to see the light of the day because they know already that they are failing and if any party today gets their acts together, there is no hope for the ruling party other than to vote them out come 2019 election due to their inability to manage the economy resulting in recession and hunger in the system.
Ahead of 2019, some politicians are toying with the idea of forming a third force to upstage the APC from power. What are the chances they will pull it through?
I don’t think they have one per cent chance to succeed. This is a mega party strategy which was used to defeat the then party in power and you think they will be so foolish to allow another mega party to defeat them? I don’t know the trick or magic that will be used to register the mega party.
But names of some key members of APC are being touted to be nursing the idea, they include former Vice President Abubakar Atiku, APC national leader, Senator Bola Tinubu and others.
All these people that they are touting their names, have you read their responses that they are not involved?
But are we to believe what they are saying?
Who else do you believe if you don’t believe them? When the person that is directly involved had spoken, why won’t you believe? But left to me, in a forum that I was where they were discussing the issue of mega party, I told them to forget it. It will not see the light of the day because if I used a strategy to remove somebody from office, another person is now coming up to use same strategy to remove me, do you think it will be possible? That is why I am saying I don’t know the magic that will register the mega party.
Source: Tribune Newspapper