A presidential aspirant, Senator Datti Baba-Ahmed has explained why President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption war is failing, saying a government that was elected with allegedly stolen funds cannot fight corruption. He spoke with Abiodun Ajala: Excerpts:
Why do you want to be the President of Nigeria?
It’s very obvious. The situation that Nigeria is in today is not a good one. The future of Nigeria is scary, and it is only us, Nigerians that can provide our own solutions. Amongst us, there are those that God has set aside to work for others. I happen to be one of them.
We have had many heavy weights that have occupied that position but disappointed Nigerians in their delivery. Are you not scared of what you want to go into?
No I’m not scared. The powers in that exalted office are commensurate to the challenges of Nigeria. I need the power of that office to address the enormous challenges that we have. The previous occupants of that exalted office are entitled to their own opinion as regards their challenges. I have not been into that office to know how difficult it is but I am never scared by difficulties, rather I am encouraged by results that are positive.
Who should take the blame for Nigeria’s under development over the years?
I don’t want to put all our former leaders in one category. I will rather address the current situation. Do me justice by allowing me to address the current situation. Now, if you want to know why this government is finding it difficult to run Nigeria’s affairs, the reasons are not far-fetched. One, APC was an accident. Strange bird fellows felt they had to quickly form an alliance. Two, PDP committed a strategic error that was cashed on by the APC. Three, a government that claimed it was coming to fight corruption must avoid looted funds – APC has not been able to do that. Four, no responsible political organisation plays politics with insecurity. Five, you must never come to power without vision, without plans. These are among issues I can adduce as the reasons for the failure of APC.
Having identified all these factors, how do you plan to correct them, if you become the president
Absolutely! Take them one after the other. If I don’t really recall the order, but I can assure you that I will never use looted funds to run my government and I will never be indebted to corrupt individuals and questionable business interests. I will not be forced to make appointments that are suspicious, which will have attendant consequences on the affairs of government. I will never play politics with insecurity. I have a clear vision and strategies for achieving the vision. Note that our movement is not by accident; we have carefully chosen ourselves. We are not picking losers who are hungry for power. There are principles we are strictly following in our movement.
Past leaders made a lot of promises but they still failed. What are you going to do differently?
It may be contrary to public opinion. We have not tried many. We have only tried a few. Among these few, they keep saying they are fighting corruption, fighting corruption. How are they fighting corruption? Nobody knows. Arresting people? But before I come to corruption, let me state how I intend to do things differently. Let us take insecurity for example. Like I told you, we will not play politics with insecurity. It is too important. I want to keep it short and simple. We will account for every square metre in the Nigerian territory, and I beg not to say more than that. By accounting for, it covers everything else. Some people would play politics with it, but I won’t. I want a Nigeria where citizens will move freely, any time of the day, from any origin to any destination whatsoever. I want a Nigeria, where remuneration of all public servants irrespective of status will take them from the first day of the month to the last day of the month.
I want to redefine and rearrange Nigeria’s economic order, and take it away from the system where success is tied to who you are or who you know in government.
I want to redefine and rearrange Nigeria’s economic order, and take it away from the system where success is tied to who you are or who you know in government. Success and wealth will hence forth be adjudged based on how well one identifies and utilises opportunities; how industrious the person is. By so doing, the procurement system in Nigeria which is largely responsible for corruption will stop. Inflating government contracts will stop immediately. Technology would be used to capture all possible revenues for the government. Again, extortion by public servants would be brought down to the barest minimum, and it will trickle down to the private sector. Then education is the zenith of service to humanity and I have been participating in the highest level. I will bring this experience to bear in my government.
Can we have a little background into your past?
Well, I have been able to develop myself and many things before I dabbled into government. I was into consultancy, construction and real estate before I launched myself into higher education. By the special grace and power of the Almighty God, I have established one of the best private universities in Nigeria, where graduates who can stand the test of time are produced. Education is the very zenith; it is the height of service you can offer to your society and I have been privileged to participate in Nigerian education at the highest level. I have also been donating cash and materials to secondary schools in my constituency.
And if you would like to know what I did while I was in the parliament, of course, I will tell you. You know what the parliament is meant for. We make laws. I was the first, and I recall the only one to fight against inflation of government contracts; that was in 2004. You can go to the National Assembly to confirm this. I also passed a resolution or rather, I sponsored the resolution which allows victims of accidents and violent crimes to be treated in our hospitals without police reports. This is among many others as I can recall.
Again, I sponsored the resolution against wrong or false medical diagnosis in addition to sponsoring a bill against environmental degradation of the Niger Delta though I am not from that region.
Now what’s your message to Nigerians
My message is simple. In 2019, we must make a real change, and vote in Datti Baba-Ahmed for president. We must shun religious and ethnic politics, and vote for the right person which I represent – which I am.
A government that claimed it was coming to fight corruption must avoid looted funds – APC has not been able to do that
The situation that Nigeria is in today is not a good one. The future of Nigeria is scary