Executive Chairman of Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Debo Adeniran, in this interview speaks on the 2023 presidency, Transparency International ranking of Nigeria and Imo Supreme Court verdict.
What is your view on the carpet crossing that has characterised Imo State House of assembly since the Supreme Court declared Senator Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC ) as the Imo governor?
Ordinarily, carpet crossing within the parties in Nigeria seems not to be much of a problem; it’s not new or strange. People reserve the right of association. However, it would be electoral robbery for people to have voted for a representative under a political party that is expected to have exposed certain ideology, then take the mandate to another party that has different ideology. In Nigeria, most of the political parties do not campaign under any ideology and that is why we see it as a common place that they change party at will. There is very little difference between one party and the other; if both parties don’t have cut ideology, there won’t be much loss to the people who voted the representatives to power. It is a sin against them anyway.
But let it be known that this does not happen in other countries, especially UK and USA. When it happens in such countries, the people will rise that they didn’t vote for the party. But in Nigeria, INEC doesn’t look at the party’s ideological lining before they register a political party and that is why you have a myriad of political parties parading in the country.
Do you feel our judiciary has been subdued with the Imo State verdict?
Unless you are a member of the jury, you might not know the tenets the Judiciary used to give the verdit. They have done several landmark verdicts in the past that nobody questioned. Remember that the court didn’t allow some ruling party member to keep some seats they won in their state for some reasons; that shows that the court is neutral in the dispensation of justice. For those that were affected, they will always pick holes, most of the political actors are bad losers, all they want to hear is wining and they can do it at all cost. In River State, the ruling party could not find its way through the judicial process in that state. The party has lost several cases, so we should just see it as the best we can get from the judicial circle for now. People should not deride the judicial system, otherwise frustration may set in. Granted that a number of judicial officers have been found guilty of malpractices in the past, if there are genuine cases, there are ways to seek redress even from the supreme court itself. I didn’t see any perversion or travesty in the verdict. Although I have not read the content of the judgement but whatever we have at our hand is the best we can get at that moment. There is nothing we can do about it. As long as the supreme court is the arbiter and the last interpretation of the law, that is what we can get. Otherwise, we will deride our system ourselves.
What will you say about the recent ranking of Nigeria on corruption by the Transparency International?
Fighting corruption does not mean you will always score high in the global ratings because there are several factors that lead to the ratings.
The rating is based on the perception and perception does not mean facts. Fighting corruption is like building a house; the beginning is not admired at the beginning until the it is finished and that is when you appreciate it. As far as we are concerned, we know that the present foundation will lead to good outcome. So many times, we have seen governments lacking political will to continue on laid foundation but this government is continuing on laid foundation. Prevention of corruption foundation has been laid long time ago but the government has not given it the necessary instrument and they remain dormant and had become a toothless bulldog. The present system has activated all those things that have laid fallow. It is difficult for us to think that the government will tackle all the corruption in the country in eight years.
What has your group done about these cases?
We made a protest to EFCC about Mohammed Adoke but nothing was done about it; he had a hand in Malabo, Harliburgton and others. He collected some money from Julius Berger with a view to try them and they were never tried for their roles in the Harliburghton scandal. We protested against Diezani Allison Madueke as far back as 2013 but all the governments didn’t do anything. We believe that the present government really mean business to fight corruption, but then know that those in political circle are the ones perpetrating the crime.
The recent ranking is political. It was meant to deride the government Effort; they want the public to think the government is not keeping to its promise but they are feeling the heat and that is why many of them are trying to run away using sickness to avoid judgement.
Transparency International is a group like us and has Olusegun Obasanjo as one of their principal advisers. This is a man whose view on the current government is well known.
What is your view on the imposition of candidates on the people; is that not corruption?
It is no problem for anybody to have a preferred candidate; Buhari is just one of the many in the country as a person. He can’t impose anybody on us as such is not an acceptable practice but we know that he would not do so because he knows that is not how to fight corruption.
We cannot urge Buhari to behave like Obasanjo when he single-handedly imposed a successor. Obasanjo has been the president until Buhari came. Obasanjo never supported Buhari until Buhari won in the first tenure. Obasanjo was supposed to be an elder stateman. There are things that are not necessary like the Amotekun issue. It has been condemned by the North but thank God that the major Northern group has accepted it and Yerima Shettima has implored the region to accept it.
There have been different comments on Amotekun but know that such comments are to be expected and they might be the ones waiting to rob your region. Amotekun has the capacity to checkmate criminals and criminality in the region.