From Bere Gyang
A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former Speaker of Plateau State House of Assembly, Hon. Istifanus Mwansat has said that the constitution of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s panel on Ikoyigate was grossly in violation of due process. He said it was the responsibility of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to carry out the investigation just like is obtainable in Dasukigate.
How would you assess two years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration?
Buhari is not the first President with a military background in Nigeria, we had Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as President and former military head of state with military background, but what we are experiencing under Buhari is entirely different from what we experienced under Obasanjo. I want to attribute that to their levels of understanding and the capacity of each of them to governance. What Obasanjo offered this country as an elected civilian President is far from what Buhari is offering today; there is nothing new Buhari has offered this country in the last two years. It was under Obasanjo that anti-corruption war was institutionalised in Nigeria; he brought EFCC, ICPC, Code of Conduct and other agencies of government to ensure that things are done right, these are innovations. We also had agriculture revolution during President Goodluck Jonathan, but today I have seen nothing that Buhari has done rather than the return of what we consider as totalitarianism or dictatorship.
Several Nigerians believed that Obasanjo was used the EFCC to fight his political opponent; don’t you think Buhari has restored confidence in the fight against corruption using the Anti-craft Agencies?
That is not correct, if Obasanjo was using EFCC to pursue his political opponent, then it is worst now because EFCC as an Agency of government that is fighting corruption is not been strengthened, that Institution is built around an individual and the question is whether such an Individual is doing the biding of somebody because you cannot apply the same law differently on different people.
Who is that individual?
Look at the double standard we are having in the country, you have DSS clamping down on Judges, the EFCC prosecuting them in court, you also have the DSS and the EFCC pursuing people left right and centre. But look at what is happening with the SGF, the grass cutting controversy, look at what is happening with the NIA boss over the Ikoyigate, if it where other people, I believe that by now the EFCC and the DSS would have stepped in. How do you explain an issue of corruption where the Vice President and the Attorney General and Minister of Justice are asked to investigate?
Are you saying the Vice President and the Attorney General are not fit to investigate the SGF and the DG NIA alleged corrupt allegations?
They do not have the constitutional investigation power. Where did they derive that power from? From the constitution or they were just directed to go and do investigation on an issue of corruption? Why were they not asked to investigate the Judges? The Judges’ houses were raided and it was claimed that they got some money there, the Vice President and the Attorney General should have been asked to investigate that too.
Who do you think should have investigated the DG, NIA and the SGF?
When the SGF issue came up, the Senate investigated because they have the constitutional power to do so, they came up with a report and made recommendations to the President, and of course the President replied the Senate that they did not follow due process. It is not in the place of President to say whether an arm of Government followed due process or not, what are the procedure in the Legislature? A committee was set up, the committee invited those concern to appear before it, they gave their recommendations and somebody was saying motions were not properly moved and not properly seconded, I think that is not proper. The anti-graft agencies are better suited to investigate the cases.
Don’t you think the recent action of President Buhari to suspend the SGF and DG NIA has proved that he is actually fighting an all inclusive war against corruption?
For me, I think it was an afterthought because the voices of the people was becoming very loud, people were beginning to grumble and I still insist that it was an afterthought because anything short of referring these issues to the EFCC to investigate is suspect.
Are you insinuating that there are much more corrupt persons in Buhari’s government than what we are seeing?
It is not in my place to say whether there is corruption or not, but nothing absolutely has changed, except may be, you will say you have replaced the looters, if people were looting before; the only thing that has been done now is that they have been replaced. That you have looted enough, go, we also have people that can loot, so there is nothing new, it’s like an issue of new wine in an old wine jag.
Are you saying the administration of President Buhari is made up of looters?
Is not what I am trying to say, but the fact that even the SGF itself has been suspended by government is an admission that the system is stinking. An NIA Director General, will claim ownership of large sums of money stocked in a house, for what? We call it covered operations?
What should Nigerians expect from Osinbajo probe panel on SGF and NIA DG?
Whether the Vice President Committee finds them guilty, I fault the process of constituting the committee, the process is wrong, it is a procedural thing, the process is not correct, you cannot apply different process on them, they are public officers, the way you have treated others, they have to be subjected to such treatment, you are charging Dasuki for arms deal and the DSS have been holding him for long, the EFCC have been involved. The Senate President has been charged for Code of conduct and put on trial, Judges have been docked and their homes raided by DSS and EFCC steps in but here we are today, you are saying the VP should investigate. Is the Director General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Ambassador Ayodele Oke and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal above those agencies of government that are saddled with the responsibility of investigation corrupt issues? You mean the EFCC and the Police cannot investigate them?
Are you saying the President is shielding them?
Well, I don’t know, he has his reasons but whatever his reasons are, it is not in accordance with the law, so if doing that will amount to shielding them, I don’t know but all I know is that the process is faulty and as such it is procedural wrong.
Many have blamed the current travail of the PDP on the exit of five Governors from the Party in 2014 to the then opposition APC and that of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, what will you say led to the failure and subsequent leadership tussle in the Party?
When you build institutions around individuals, it cannot stand and Obasanjo’s exit from PDP cannot be said to be entirely the reason why PDP find itself in the present predicament, and I disagree with you completely that PDP has fallen. All I know is that PDP is enmeshed in a serious leadership crisis and it is just divine that we are in this problem at this period because time is very important, the time for us as members of the PDP is correct because we will have enough time to resolve our differences and I assure you that with the effort and commitment of leaders of the party, we will come out stronger.
Former President Jonathan was alleged to have single handedly brought Sheriff and now Sheriff is back stabbing him, do you think it was a wise idea for him to have brought Sheriff in the first instance?
I told you of a biological child and an adopted child, you are an adopted child, you do not know what the family stands for, you do not know what the family’s values are, you do not have the blood of that family lineage flowing in your system and therefore if you act at variance with what the family stands for, it may not be too surprising but we will have to pay for being magnanimous because at one point Sheriff was abandoned on the streets and Jonathan thought it was fair to pick him from the sun and bring him to shade but this is how he is paying Jonathan back. It was wrong for Sheriff to be disrespectful to Jonathan in the public glare; I don’t think that was right because respect begets respect, if he does not respect Jonathan, I wonder if he is expecting any genuine party man to respect him.
Eminent Nigerians said PDP is dead and APC is gasping for breath, are you seeing the emergence of another mega party ahead of 2019?
The statement that PDP is dead is far from the truth, nobody that understands the political architecture of this country today will tell you that PDP is dead. If you say APC is gasping for breath I will agree with you because surprisingly, we have heard and seen APC talked about postponing their convention for lack of fund. The question is who is fooling who? They have over 20 Governors, all the Ministers; you have Government at the centre and you are talking about funding a convention which will not take 10 percent of what you used to install a new government? APC is really gasping for breath because I dare them, if they are not, they should hold the convention and see how they will come out of it.
Are you forecasting the collapse of APC?
I am not forecasting but this is a statement of fact, because I know what will happen. They are strange bed fellows; they have never sat down anywhere to understand themselves, AC stood for something different, ANPP stood for something different, they were united just to grab power and even in power, when you hear the likes of Lai Mohammed talking, he still sees himself as a shadow information Minister as if the real information Minister to the Government is elsewhere.