Dr. Moses Iloh, an elder statesman and advocate of good governance, justice, equity and better standard of living of citizens, in this interview with SUNDAY ODIBASHI, articulates that President Muhammadu Buhari should be tougher in his anti-corruption war, reiterating his advocacy for a special court for corruption cases.
COUNTING down on the second year of President Muhammadu Buhari’s first tenure, no solution yet to the economic recession; the hardship, suffering and hunger ravaging the country, do you still believe in the government?
What we must understand is that the situation is like cancer afflicting Nigeria; eating deep into the interior cell of the system before it manifest. What is going on now was not caused overnight. See how they rubbished this country; check out how the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari has helped us to expose the depth of corruption and robbery by the past administrations. It was so bad that you cannot stop it by the wave of the hand.
Then, the recession. Again, because we have God on our side, that is why God sent Buhari to come and redeem this country. Fortunately, the price of crude oil in the international market has jumped up by $20 and Buhari has said he is going to end recession. It is not a coincidence; it is like a prophesy. So, I still believe that with care, this administration will successfully block all avenues of stealing and leakages. The government is widely infested with corruption. So, unless they block all the leakages, the country cannot move forward.
Imagine the magnitude of corruption in the country. One thing that Buhari must do quickly, I don’t know what problems are hindering him, is to establish a special court for corruption cases and begin to send people to prison, so that others will be deterred, knowing that one day, they will find themselves in jail for corruption.
It is so important because even now people are still stealing public funds in government. Since those caught stealing in millions, nothing has happened to them, those in government are encouraged to steal more. They are optimistic they can buy judgment and get freedom whenever they are put on trial. The judges are in trouble today because the DSS did something that is practical. So, it will be a good thing if they begin to send them to prison. The action will not only be fighting corruption, it will also be fighting the corrupt. People will then know that if they are corrupt, there is consequence and the consequence is disgraceful. The government should even assemble them in their prison uniform, bring them to the stadium to play novelty match, then, their families, friends and everybody will watch them.
Buhari is doing very well, he only heeds to be tougher to fight the corrupt, put them to shame.
You said people are still stealing in government, now, the President has ordered the investigation of some political appointees, are you impressed?
I am highly impressed and I want to believe they have strong evidence against them. It is one thing to speculate that somebody around the President is corrupt, it I another thing that the accusers must have a proof. When they prove it, then, the President will need to do something to frighten those who are corrupt or who intend to be corrupt in the system. I don’t believe in speculations. Sometimes, people can just hate somebody and want to spoil his name with corruption.
You have been talking about the need for a new big political party, does the ongoing negotiations for a new mega political party meet your expectation? The issue here is, who are the people forming the new mega political party. When I talk of a new mega political party, I am talking of a party of good people who have integrity and capacity to govern. I strongly believe there are millions of good people who are honest and have integrity in Nigeria but they are scared of politics. The corrupt have made politics so dirty that the honest people are scared to participate in it.
We need to understand what politics is. Politics is not about stealing, robbery or looting of national treasury. The actual meaning of politics is the proper management of the affairs of men, preferably, by the righteous, the good people. And these people are in Nigeria. So, the people who understand what politics is should come in and form a clean political party.
One thing that has become worrisome in the country is the issue of immunity. It is breeding impunity. What the governors are displaying is brazen impudence and corrupting this country. People do not need to steal before they are seen to be corrupt. They can say things, do things that destroy the country.
Only in Nigeria are public institutions desecrated with impunity. I am yet to see a country where people behead a policeman and nothing happens. Nowhere in the world will people behead policemen who represent the sovereignty of that country and nothing happens, the authorities keep quiet. Things like these are horrible. Now, they cannot arrest a governor because he has immunity. So, he says and does anything, including inciting violence. Now, that immunity should be removed, only the president should retain immunity. If the president does something very bad, they can impeach him. We have come to a stage that before anyone becomes governor, he must undergo psychiatric test. So, at this point, we should do something fast.
But do you not think it is about the attitude of politicians, in general, the desperation for power?
Unfortunately, politicians in Nigeria are not yet matured for democracy. Politicians are wild and they do not know that four years will come to an end and they will return to civil life on the streets. You may not steal money but you are spoiling the country by recruiting touts and thugs to carry out hooliganism. In Nigeria, recruiting hooligans is very easy because the youths have no jobs and they have suffered so much. Then, if you offer them money, they can do anything, including killing and wanton destruction of property.
The Rivers State episode you are referring to looks like a two way thing, opponents of the governor are also desperate for power, how do you reconcile this?
Anybody who promotes or instigates violence should be dealt with. There must be something in our law that says an accomplice should be dealt with like the real person who committed a crime. Corruption also includes spoiling our youths, make the youths go into violence as a business, make them disrespect the Police, be lawless; making our youths uncontrollable, lead them into destructions, that is capital corruption. So, the government should deal severely with anyone engaged in these practices or threatening national security in any part of the country.
Do you think Former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori, should face another prosecution on return to Nigeria after his prison term in the UK? As soon as he arrives in Nigeria, nobody should touch him again, they should let him go. Ibori has paid his price, he has gone to prison. There are other people who have stolen more than Ibori but they were rewarded with national honourary awards. I learnt some of them are OON, CON and so on. So, Ibori should not be tried again on return to the country. After all, there are people who got perpetual injunctions from the court and they cannot try them. There are people who bribed corrupt judges to get judgment and are still enjoying their loots. So, nobody should repeat punishment on the young man.
Would you support President Buhari for a second term in 2019?
Absolutely! If we don’t vote Buhari into office for second term, the country will crumble. Who do you put there; who can have his courage, his confidence to lead this country. God, Jehovah, must have looked around before raising Buhari for President of this country and it is for a special purpose. God has seen that Buhari has passionate hatred for corruption. This is not an issue of religion. I am praying that God should give him a second term. If Buhari had not been President, would people have known Nigerian leaders have stolen this much. People have always been going there to learn how to steal. The professional civil servants teaching the novice minister, novice governor how to steal but Buhari came to clean the system. Therefore, he deserves a second term. So, if not Buhari in 2019, who else?