New Telegraph

My Grouse With President Tinubu’s Ministers, by Anthony Sani

Anthony Sani was a former Secretary General of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF); in this interview with CORRESPONDENT BABA NEGEDU in Kaduna, Sani said even though the Tinubu administration has started on a good note, it is key for it to always think through its policies before making them public to guide against policy somersaults. Sani also said his grouse with some of the ministers appointed by President Bola Tinubu was the fact that some of them had been rejected by their people as Senators, Governors at the polls and also their reported cases with the anti Corruption agencies. Excepts:

How would you rate the caliber of new Ministers appointed by President Bola Tinubu?

I do not really know many of them. As a result, I cannot rate their performance and content of character. My only grouse with some of them is the reports that many of them have cases with the anti graft agencies; a situation that calls into question the resolve to fight corruption. Also to appoint people who have been rejected by the voters during the election as senators or governor suggests feelings of voters have not been taken into account by the new administration. This government should act the lode- star and bellwether in whatever it does with its electoral mandate.

What will be your charge to them in view of the social economic malaise facing the country?

The regime was voted to deliver on the promises contained in the manifesto of the party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). They should try and deliver on the promise of their electoral mandate. Insecurity, corruption and diversification of the economy are still challenges facing the country. The regime did its best and consigned insurgencies to the fringes of North East. It is for the current regime to put an end to the menace posed by the insurgence.

As insurgents were being decimated across the North, there arose bandits, kidnappers, clashes between herders and farmers, all of which pose security challenges across the country. What should be done is for the government to ensure adequate number of trained and equipped security personnel who are well motivated to protect the nation by taking the fight to the insurgents in the forests. I am happy that the president said that much during campaigns and after inauguration. Since corruption is a national malaise, I expect the administration to step up both preventive and punitive measures against corruption.

The anti graft agencies should do their work and judiciary should also play their roles by delivering substantive justice, instead of using technicality to free corrupt people.This is because substantive justice derived from natural justice and common de- cency are the ones to make people have confidence in our courts rather than the current belief that our judiciary are like spider web which catches only small flies and let go the big ones. Since our economy is still very much in the doldrums, efforts at diversifica- tion must continue unabated.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should be up and doing by bringing up monetary policies that can improve the economy.They should be pursued with more vigor. A situation where CBN would up lending rate and make saving rate unattractive to those who wish to save as happened under the immediate past regime must be avoided. Diversification of the economy is never a day’s job. Nigerians should come to terms with the reality that subsidy cannot be sustained, given the dramatic reduction by more than half of our production quota and price of crude oil. We need to note the import of the saying that adversity is both cathartic and productive as well.

Following the removal of subsidy, the Federal Government said it is disbursing billions of Naira to states as palliatives, is this the right thing to do in the circumstance?

I am not sure about the wisdom of such an approach especially when regard is paid to the fact that the removed subsidy is expected to be put in productive ventures, and not applied in consumption. More distressing is the fact that N5b is being given to each state irrespective of its size by way of population and land mass. Apart from the fact that such would not add any productive value to the economy, treating unequals equally is injustice. To use N500b for payment of N8,000:00 per head per month and for 12m out of 216m people for 12 months may not add any productive value to the economy also.

The popular opinion among many Nigerians is that using military engagement to dislodge the coupists in Niger is not the right thing to do, what is your take on the Niger Impasse?

Using force or war in any circumstance is never the best.That is why it is often the last resort when other options fail to achieve the desired result. The world is against coup because coupists use force and govern without recourse to the citizens.Hence not only Nigeria, West Africa, Africa and the whole world abhor coups, lest coup legitimize MIGHT IS RIGHT.

Nigeria is in ECOWAS but not ECOWAS in itself.That the president of Nigeria heads ECOWAS does not mean Nigeria is ECOWAS. So, nobody should hold Nigeria responsible for any decisions taken by ECOWAS. I have noted ECOWAS is acting Leo Force.That is belligerent as lion and as savvy as the fox for the purpose of negotiating from position of strength in order to secure the best of terms.

Whether at individual or national level, one must not necessarily have enough before helping others.Tanzania under President Julius Nyerere did not have enough before it helped remove President Idi Amin. Nigeria did not have enough or had no domestic challenges before the country helped to remove apartheid regime in South Africa.

Nigeria did not have enough or no domestic challenges before it helped Liberia and Sierra Leon. In the same way, allied forces did not have enough or no challenges before they liberated Kuwait from Sadam Hussein. So while ECOWAS and the whole world prefer diplomatic approach to the use of force, I believe acting Leo Force is for strategic reasons.

Insecurity seems to still be a lot of concern, how can the new administration tackle the menace?

Terrorism is not conventional warfare and that is why hard power of military might alone cannot put an end to insecurity posed by terrorism. That is why UN had Resolution 1966 of 2010 which enjoined the affected states to address the underlying causes. But you and me know poverty and ignorance are the underlying causes which cannot be ended like ON and OFF of a TV. Overcoming terrorism requires con- sciously directed efforts by both leaders and the led to make desires possible and then actual.

That is why President Bush mistakenly said he had defeated Iraq within seven days with precision only to discover that was just the beginning of the campaigns which cost America thousands of people and billions of dollars.The same thing happened in Afghanistan. Defeating terrorism is not that easy.

How would you asses the way and manner the new administration has taken off and the policies put in place so far?

The regime has started very well except the manner the president announced the removal of fuel subsidy tended to give an impression that it was after thought. Imagine the removal of the fuel subsidy was not included in inaugural speech. Also, though I am not a fan of former governor of Kaduna State Mallam Nasir El-Rufai because he is a grim man who loves duty more than humanity, I feel his case was not handled properly.

More so that he is a seminal figure of the ruling party who has played productive roles in the success of the party. There is the need for the government to think through all its policies and programmes before making them public.

The new FCT minister Nyesom Wike is already talking about demolition, is that the way to start, What is your advice to him?

To destroy is much easier than to build. Also, the minister should know that the law is made for man, and not man made for the law. He should therefore let his actions have human face.

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