North not Afraid of restructuring – Yakassai

Elder statesman and chairman, Northern Elders Council, NEC, Alhaji TankoYakassai has said that the fight against corruption would come to naught as long as what attracts people to corruption remains unblocked.
Speaking exclusively to Nigeria Pilot, he maintained that as long as Nigerian leaders continued to live above their legitimate earnings, the fight against corruption would be a child’s play.
“The problem is not the money recovered or doubt about the actual amount. In any case, anybody who wants to fight corruption should know, first and foremost, how he can we block the way and manner people take into corruption.
“My problem is not with the doubt over funds recovery by government and the need to give out names of those who return looted money to ascertain what actually was recovered from them, but the percentage of the cash recovered to the federal budget,” he said.
Continuing, Yakassai said:“Let’s talk of the cash returned, which is about N115 billionas announced. What is the percentage of the cash and the properties to our N6 trillion budget? It’s small amount of money compared to the budget. Let’s agree that we can use the looted money now even though they said we cannot use it. Supposing we can use the money, it cannot balance up our budget for this year because it’s only about 2/3rd revenue we require to execute the budget. 1/3rd is N1.8 trillion. Now if you put these monies into the budget, it’s still not balanced up.”
Yakassai further argued that “supposing we put the money into the budget what will happen next year when we join those money?
“So the problem is not the money recovered or doubt about actual amount.”
Yakassai noted that “as long as the lacuna remains unblocked, fight against corruption would be a child’s play,” adding that what the present administration should have done is to come up with programmes that would block further corruption in the country.
“The way people steal our money, as long as we live above our legitimate income we have no alternative than to go and steal public money.
“There is no business that you can do to get money in Nigeria today. This is the reason why when people get money they go into politics. None of them is a politician;they are business people.When they have money, business is not paying, so they put their money into politics, go to party they know that can win in their area, put their money in the primaries so that they emerge as candidate for chairmen, councillors, states assembly members, governors, reps, senator and president.
“They use the money to win nomination and others. They use the money to fight opposition in the budget. Any candidate, including Buhari, must have spent a lot of money for electoral commission officials, voted money for the police, SSS. If you don’t have the power to find out as journalist, just go and select three that you know at INEC, police, SSS, judges who served at election petition tribunals, look at their financial standing by collaborating with the officials of their bank to know how much is their balance. After six months, go back and find out how much is in their account,” he said.
“Unfortunately for Nigeria, you, our journalists, neglect the most important section of journalism, which is investigative journalism. If you target one, two, three people, take your time for one, two or three months and publish after extracting information from them, you will make a lot of difference in your report.
“So the problem is what to do and how to generate economic activities in the country,” he maintained.
According to him, there are two ways to achieve this; one of which he said is industrialisation, but “you cannot industrialise until you have enough power.
For agriculture, he said”Nigeria is blessed with rainfall much more than what we need. For instance, if you go out, 10 kilometres outside Nigeria in northern part of the country, the rainfall there cannot sustain good farming, the same with two kilometres of the border of Nigeria in the south, which is seen everywhere, that you cannot grow any crops. But the land in Nigeria, everywhere, there is a type of crop you can grow in north, south, east and west and middle belt. So what we require is commitment to the agriculture industry.
“Agriculture is the only area you can create employment for more than two-third of the population. It will be like magic if we can organise irrigation with dams we have all over the country, example Tiga Dam built by AuduBako.
“So, what we need is leadership with vision that will consult with an expert that will tell you how to do it, get other experts that can tell you how to get money if you lack money.
He further informed: “I red about people talking of restructuring Nigeria. If you restructure Nigeria 10 times nothing will change.
“The problem is not with structure of the country but there is part of the system that you can change.
“For instance, I supported the presidential system of government from the beginning. And my reason was that the leader of the country will have the entire nation as his constituency.
“And therefore, since he will require their votes for you to win, one will not discriminate any side of the country, but what is happening is not the case. What we have now is that when you vote somebody and is elected, he turns his attention to his people even though he got elected through their popular support.
“So, now I discovered that presidential election is not suitable for Nigeria. The two reasons are: one, our differences in terms of culture and religion.
“Our headache at that time was that we had three regions led by very powerful figures.
“All of them have gone – Sardauna, Zik and Awo- they have no replacement, and nobody has an equivalent of the trio in Nigeria now.
“So we can go back to parliamentary system and the beauty of it is that the government will be cabinet government. The power will be vested in the hand of group of people, unlike in presidential system where power will be concentrated in the hand of one individual. You can’t remove the individual except through impeachment process which is very expensive.
“So, I’m now a born again supporter of parliamentary system. I am in this country and I know all as a democrat. On constitutional problem now is that you have to convince the members of the National Assembly, governors and president.
“Members of the National Assembly will not vote anything they will not gain because in parliamentary system only the assembly legislators will be ministers. President or the prime minister has no right to pick people in the street and make them ministers like we are doing now. So legislature will be more powerful. The checks and balances is what made me to like it. If government is not performing you don’t need to go for impeachment; all you need to do is file a motion of no confidence in that government.
“If other members of the political group feel like the way you’re feeling and are convinced that government is not performing, they vote along with you.
“The moment you voted the government out, it will collapse and goand a new government has to be formed. That alone will send a very good signal to any incoming government that if they misbehave they will be sent parking; they I’ll be very careful and therefore, a minister will not behave the way they behave under the presidential constitution where a minister will acquire hundreds of billions of naira to himself, and no body will benefit except his children and wife and few of his relatives. That will not happen in parliamentary system. That is the only system that will move this county forward,” Yakassai posited.

  • chukwudi

    Good talk , though not only in Nigerian that Muslims are bringing bad name to Islam.