Dr. Moses Iloh, an elder statesman and renowned advocate for good governance commends President Muhammadu Buhari on his decisive war against corruption in the country. Iloh, in this interview with SUNDAY ODIBASHI, says that Nigeria is in an emergency and whatever way the President handles looters of public fund is lawful.
WHAT is your view on the revelations from the $2.1 billion Dasuki scandal?
I am happy that these things were revealed; it is good we discovered all these. First, these revelations show how dead the country called Nigeria is. So, since we have discovered them, a drastic illness, they say, calls for a drastic cure. This shows that Nigeria is as filthy as one can imagine. It is such a shame that human beings, because of money, they allow people to be killed, deprive them of their homes, deprive them of everything that made them Nigerians. People have taken money meant to be used to purchase arms to fight Boko Haram into their pockets for their own luxury, leaving thousands dead or become refugees in their own country. This is not just corruption but wickedness. I don’t like people looking at corruption as stealing. Stealing is nothing compared to corruption. Corruption means spoiling. These people are out to spoil Nigeria. They must be dealt with drastically. No other way, otherwise, this country will be ruined. For you to take money that belongs to everybody, you are callous. Some young soldiers were arrested, charged and convicted; they were to be killed because they ran away from fighting Boko Haram. They complained that there were no weapons to fight; they were fighting with bare hands. Anybody who took part of this money should be looked as a murderer, then, let him prove that he is not a murderer. So, government should collect the money back but charge them for murder, then, let them get all the lawyers in this world to prove how they cannot be accused of being accomplice for murder.
Are you not aware of those who admitted collecting the money but for election purpose?
That is a point. Let us now assume that they were given the money for elections. Now, the EFCC should find out who gave them the money for election. EFCC should find out the source of the money. If it is government money, then, that will take you to the root source of who the actual murderer is. So, if they accept they were given the money for elections, collect the money from them, return it to the national treasury. Then, those who gave them the money should tell the government where they got the money from. The murder charge should not be swept under the carpet because people who shared in the $2.1 billion arms money are murderers.
Are you worried like some other people that former President Goodluck Jonathan has not made categorical statement on the issue?
I remember clearly reading in the newspaper where Okonjo-Iweala said she told Jonathan to order the people to give account of the money. All of them should now be rounded up to explain where all this money came from. If the money is from the arms fund, that is murder. Secondly, if it is government’s money, that is robbery. So, there are many charges against them.
People have been accusing President Muhammadu Buhari of undermining the rule of law in handling the anti-corruption war; do you feel same way?
No corrupt person will sit down without fighting back. Now, somebody comes to your house, a robber, burgles your house and he is about to escape, you hit him with a stick to incapacitate him. Then, the Police will come and because you incapacitated the robber, the Police was able to arrest him. Then, somebody says no! the trouble is who incapacitated him, did the Police give the man permission to hit the thief with a stick. This is clay-footed excuse. A thief in Nigeria today is a thief. People can buy private jets in this country and in their villages, people cannot find food to eat. People have big houses and mansions in Victoria Island, Maitama, Asokro Districts, in their communities, yet, people are cracking palm kernels to be able to find something to eat. Anybody who likes to quote law is just joking. Whatever way government handles these people who stole our money is legal. I don’t want to listen to lawyers. Today, lawyers in Nigeria are 100 for one kobo. Everybody is a lawyer; everybody say what they like. You come on the television and say all kinds of ridiculous things. Nobody should listen to them. We are in an emergency, whatever way they handle Sambo Dasuki and other looters of public fund is lawful.
What is your assessment of President Buhari on the management of the economy?
For Buhari, I feel sorry for him. Buhari did not know the Nigeria he was coming to be President. He took Nigeria like a sick man that you can quickly take to the hospital, take good care of him, then, put him back to life. When he came in, he saw that Nigeria was a dead man who had been buried. To start anything, you have to exhume him. Now, to exhume him, since you were not there when they buried him, you will tell them to exhume him from the leg. Buhari met a Nigeria that is dead. So, he is trying to exhume Nigeria before he tries to resuscitate the country. Buhari is there because God sent him there to save Nigeria. What Buhari is able to do, without God, he cannot do it. This guy is calm, taking all the insults. All he is there for is to fight corruption. God brought Buhari, some may say he is not a Christian. Nigeria has 80 million Christians, God did not see one of us good enough to send to save Nigeria. He saw a man, who is destined to destroy corruption. The only problem Nigeria has is corruption; no earthquake, no ocean surge or any other form of natural disaster. All we suffer in Nigeria is leadership disaster, human disaster. God loves Nigeria. One man who feels the way majority Nigerians feel, that man is Muhammadu Buhari. Whether he is a Muslim, that is not what God is asking anybody. This man is a genuine fighter. That is what God has sent him to do and some people are talking nonsense. They want to kill him. God sent Buhari, anybody who wants to touch him, God will punish the fellow. Those who are talking bad against Buhari, are the evil ones. If you are clean in Nigeria, what you should do is to support Buhari. He is fighting corruption that is fighting Nigeria. Anyone who thinks of ethnic groups in Nigeria is joking. There is no more Biafra, no more Hausa, Ibo or Fulani or Yoruba. What we have in Nigeria today are three tribes or social segregation. The tribe of the corrupt, very large, is one tribe. They don’t care whether you are Kanuri, Ibo, Yoruba. As far as you are a thief, in that tribe, you know yourselves. They don’t care whether you are a man or a woman. The second tribe constitute of people who are honest. They don’t have much, they are enduring. They are very few. Most of them are poor but they are honest people. All they are after is that the right thing is always right. Then, the third tribe is the tribe of the hypocrites; and that is why you have religious people. On Sunday you see pastors exploiting people, you can do miracles and wonders and so holy but you are a thief. They are changing Christianity into religion; we call them leaders of Christians not Christian leaders; they are not Christians, they are religious Christians. When they see the righteous people, they are moved to get money, when it is dark, they are evil. They are hypocrites. The Lord says woe unto yea hypocrites. They are gathering dangerous crowd. In that crowd, you have pastors, top Imams, all religious people, are there. When they go to the politicians, they tell them God says you will be President, you will be governor, you will get money. You can recall how many pastors told Jonathan he will win the election. When they go somewhere else, they say, don’t mind them. These are the three tribes in Nigeria. So, you are either in the thief tribe or in the righteous tribe or the hypocrite; anybody telling you you are Ibo, Hausa, Yoruba is garbage. If I was Buhari, I will influence the National Assembly to expunge ethnic identity from all national documents.
You were at the Freedom Park about four years ago protesting removal of petrol subsidy, now, the government has removed the subsidy, are still holding on to your opposition?
I have never understood the subsidy regime. Why I said don’t remove subsidy was because my understanding of subsidy was that if something is costing me N10 and government puts subsidy there, I should buy it for N5 or so. The subsidy is meant for me to pay less because the government has paid part of the price. That was why I said don’t remove subsidy. Now, this subsidy is a disaster, the most fraudulent thing. The price of petrol goes higher every day, the subsidy beneficiaries get richer. The poor man gets poorer every day. So, this government has come to do justice, clean up the system. Now, those who benefit from the subsidy are crying. I am even ashamed that the Organised Labour are threatening to go on strike if government removes subsidy. Labour is an instrument of change not oppression. So, we should remove this subsidy because it has bled Nigeria.
But what has actually changed between the time you opposed subsidy removal and now that you are supporting it?
Nothing actually; only we have been suffering on it. So, they should remove the subsidy. Recently, they were selling petrol at high price but the government said don’t sell more than N86.50 per litre. Today, even though they are cheating in quantity, petrol dealers have adjusted their pumps, doctored their metres to reflect the price but the quantity is less. Nigeria is a fraudulent country but they no longer exceed government’s approved price. Corruption is boiling. Whoever fights those who fight corruption will go to hell; corruption is evil.