The renowned anti-corruption crusader said Tinubu, Atiku, and other politicians that are 60 years and above should go and rest.
Former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar and the national leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, have been told to forget their 2023 presidential aspirations and quit the stage for younger elements.
Giving the advice in this interview with TUNDE THOMAS, the renowned anti-corruption crusader, Major-Gen Ola Ishola-Williams said Tinubu, Atiku, and other politicians that are 60 years and above should go and rest, adding that they have nothing new to offer the country again. He explained why the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole is desperate to sack Godwin Obaseki as Edo state governor.
“Look at what is going on in Edo state, an individual wants to decide who becomes the governor of the state, and the reason for that is that he wants to ensure that he installs his own candidate because he wants to protect his personal interests. I’m talking about Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the APC national chairman. Having served his own term, he should allow Governor Godwin Obaseki to be. Why is Oshiomhole so desperate? Oshiomhole is afraid because he doesn’t want to get exposed. He wants to install somebody that will cover his track”, the retired Army General stated. He also spoke on other national issues.
What is your assessment of efforts being made so far by the Federal Government to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria?
Honestly speaking, I have to confess that the Presidential Task Force set up by the Federal Government headed by the Secretary to the Government of the federation; Boss Mustapha has been doing a yeoman’s job. The Task Force is doing a good job in spite of all the challenges. Lagos, and Ogun state governments also deserve kudos. Both states have done well in the way they’ve handled the pandemic. One lesson we should learn from the whole saga is the need for us as a nation to develop more interest in scientific research. Our leaders instead of looting or wasting the nation’s resources on frivolities should budget more funds for research to enable our scientists carry out work in areas of human health, and well being.
Federal Government should continue with the good work the PTF is doing in tackling the pandemic. However, I will also like to advise that our philanthropists, and other organizations like the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN should not wait until when there is an emergency or crisis before donating money for research work. In other parts of the world, especially in the advanced clime you see different organizations regularly providing funds for research work whether there is a crisis or not, and that’s why you see many Nigerian scientists, and professional health workers living abroad thriving in their different fields.
I also like the way the PTF has handled the issue of ease of the lockdown in a gradual manner. No one could have predicted what would have happened if the lockdown had lingered without the government providing concrete alternatives on how to ensure that millions of Nigerians don’t die of hunger as a result of the lockdown. The lockdown seriously exposed our leaders as lacking in knowledge on how to provide essential social services to the people. There was so much confusion, and lack of planning during the distribution of the palliatives during the lockdown. The palliatives including money, and food didn’t get to those people who actually need them. You can imagine, they also brought palliatives to my house but I chased them away. I asked them whether I look like somebody that is hungry or need palliatives to survive. I asked them to take the palliatives, which include some food items, and noodles to those who really need them. I will like to advise the federal government that the gradual ease of the lockdown should continue in order to avert serious economic crisis. But it is also important that Nigerians should keep, and observe the rules of social distancing.
What’s your assessment of the five years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration?
I don’t see any cause for celebration .For those who want to roll out the drums to celebrate, especially Buhari’s apologists, they can do so but left to me I don’t see anything worthy of celebration. Has anything really changed with Buhari, and APC’s Change slogan? It is all deceit. However, for those who want to roll out the drums to celebrate, especially Buhari’s apologists they can do so but left to me I don’t see anything worthy of celebration in the last 5 years. Has anything really changed with Buhari, and APC’ Change slogan? It is all deceit. However, there are two areas where I think Buhari deserves commendation, and that’s in the area of community policing, and signing of the Executive Oder granting financial autonomy to the Judiciary, and the State Houses of Assembly.
By accepting ‘Operation Amotekun’, the community policing put in place by the Southwest governors, I think this is a big achievement for Buhari’s administration. It is making community policing which I have been canvassing for a long time a reality. The idea of community policing should be embraced across the country .It will help to strengthen the existing security architecture across the nation.
On the issue of granting financial autonomy to the state assemblies and the judiciary, this is a right step in the right direction. It will help to promote accountability. State Assemblies will no longer have excuses for not performing. The lawmakers will also now have no excuse for not being able to deal with the excesses of some state governors who behave like emperors or tin gods. It will equally help to checkmate some principal officers like the Speaker from becoming despotic, and corrupt because House members will no longer have any excuse not to put in check any Speaker that wants to turn the legislative funds into his own oil block like the situation you have in Lagos where the Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa is reported to have 64 different bank accounts. But is this not ridiculous? This is why I’m surprised when I hear some people saying that APC or Buhari is fighting corruption. Is Obasa not an APC member? People like him ought to have been put on trial for corruption.
To me Buhari has not recorded any tangible achievement. Look at the education sector, ASUU is still on strike; the strike started before the advent of COVID-19. What’s ASUU’s grouse? Members of the union are insisting that they don’t want to be part of the normal IPPS payroll system but on this I don’t support ASUU’s position. Why must their own system of payment be different from that of others? Even the Army, and the Police personnel are on the normal payment system with other civil servants. Is ASUU trying to tell us that they are making that demand because universities are centres of accountability which is clearly not so. But thank God, ASUU’s rank is being broken as they now have a splinter group.
Although the Federal Government is setting up new universities, and polytechnics, and they want to count these as achievements but I clearly disagree because the danger in what they are doing is this, how are they going to fund these new institutions? Now COVID-19 has paralysed academic activities across the country, and for now the education sector is dormant and to show you that our leaders never get their priorities right, while the education sector is suffering neglect, see the amount of money they’ve budgeted for the renovation of the National Assembly. The Parents Teachers Association, PTA, of many schools now even spends more money to run schools at times more than the government.
We often make mistake in Nigeria, when leaders construct roads, both the leaders, and their supporters celebrate this as an achievement, but the question is this, what is supposed to be the job of government if it can’t construct roads? If these people construct roads, what they are doing is normal, it is only when they fail to do so that it becomes abnormal.
I read a report recently where it was reported that the federal government has refunded a sum of N148 billion to some state governments for money spent on construction of roads in their states. To me, this is wrong. What is then the duty of state governors if they can’t construct roads that pass through their states, and this is why I have always been saying that government has not been getting its priorities right.
In a way, are you supporting PDP’s claim that Buhari’s administration has recorded no meaningful achievements?
It has not been all that failures like I mentioned earlier. We must also give it to Buhari that his administration has continued with railway, and roads construction, which were started by the Jonathan’s administration. So in a way we can say that Buhari is consolidating on Jonathan’s achievements.
For PDP, the party should not be taken serious on its assessment of Buhari’s administration. Was PDP not in power for 16 years and what was the party able to achieve? If PDP had lived up to expectations, Nigeria would not have voted for APC in 2015. PDP is only engaging in propaganda by describing Buhari’s government as a failure. Instead of engaging in politicking, what PDP should do is to have a think-tank that will provide alternatives to any APC policy that it considers being a failure. Unfortunately, while PDP is good at criticizing, the party is short on providing or suggesting credible alternatives. It is unfortunate that Nigeria is not a nation where political parties have think-tanks or strategic committees that will always come up with ideas that will put any government in power on its toes at all times. This is why we need a new set of political parties, and politicians that will come up with such brilliant ideas.
How would you react to the claims by some Nigerians that Buhari’s administration has been doing a yeoman’s job in the fight against corruption?
To me, that’s nothing but propaganda. I have not seen any real attempt at fighting corruption by the Buhari’s administration. Whether some people will accept it or not, corruption still thrives in Nigeria. The political system in Nigeria encourages corruption. How can Buhari fight corruption when members of the National Assembly can’t checkmate him? Even at the state level, the State House of Assembly can’t curtail the excesses of the state governors. It is unfortunate that majority of Nigerians are docile. Instead of demanding accountability from their leaders, they sing their praise. They praise those who loot their common resources.
Look at what is going on in Edo state, an individual wants to decide who becomes the governor of the state, and the reason for that is that he wants to ensure that he installs his own candidate because he wants to protect his personal interests. I’m talking about Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the APC national chairman. Having served his own term, he should allow Governor Godwin Obaseki to be. Why is Oshiomhole so desperate? Oshiomhole is afraid because he doesn’t want to get exposed. He wants to install somebody that will cover his track. This is part of the reasons why I said earlier that Buhari is not fighting corruption especially where APC interests are involved.
Again, we can’t conclude that Buhari is fighting corruption until when he leaves office. It is when he leaves office that Nigerians will be able to know the extent of corruption under his administration. When former President Goodluck Jonathan was in office, his administration was generally perceived to be corrupt but it was not until after he left office that it was discovered that the level of rot was much higher. The presidential system we practise makes the President all too powerful. Even the anti-corruption agencies like the EFCC, and ICPC which some people will want to claim are working have their own limitations as they can’t go beyond the scope of what the President wants them to do. Their powers are limited as the executive can still influence them, and this is why some people have described the on-going war against corruption as being one sided.
Concerns are being expressed over the resurgence of armed banditry in some states in the country, especially Katsina where the state government at a time even signed peace treaty, and gave amnesty to the bandits, what’s your reaction to the development?
It is an unfortunate development. I warned those state governors against granting amnesty to bandits, and also giving them money, but my warning was ignored. Now my fears have been confirmed as the bandits are now on rampage. They are back in full force to wreak havoc on innocent citizens. If care is not taken, these bandits may take over the entire North, and sack the state governors. They are now using the money they were given by those state governors to buy more arms to terrorise innocent citizens .It is now clear that it was a big mistake and error on the part of the state governors to have entered into any deal with the bandits. The other time when these bandits surrendered their arms, those state governors made so much propaganda out of it but now their action has boomeranged. The danger in what is happening now is that these bandits will become more ferocious, and deadlier, and to deal with them may be a little bit difficult more so when the war against insurgency is still raging. We may be sitting on a keg of gunpowder with renewed armed banditry, Boko Haram insurgency, and the government still battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the war against insurgency, how do we bring it to an end?
The question should be directed at President Buhari. But it is obvious that Buhari, his service chiefs, and every other person that is involved in the insurgency war have run out of ideas. If not, why has it become so difficult for the Nigerian troops, especially the Service Chiefs to come up with the right strategies to win the war. While it appears Nigeria is finding it difficult to tackle the insurgents, look at the exploits by the Chadian soldiers against the same Boko Haram that our troops are finding it difficult to tackle, and yet Chad has only got one tenth of what Nigeria has got in terms of equipment, logistics, and ammunitions.
Buhari knows what to do to end the insurgency but it seems he is not interested in doing it .For over five years, he gave a mandate to the service chiefs on the insurgency but they’ve failed on the mandate given to them.
So why still retain a team that has failed? Why is Buhari still keeping the service chiefs when they have failed on the mandate given to them? Giving excuses will not win the war, only adopting the right strategies will do. Buhari should fire the service chiefs. They’ve outlived their usefulness, and as long as you have the present service chiefs in charge, Nigerians should be prepared for more excuses. But they should just stop giving excuses over the Boko Haram war. Nigerians want results and not excuses.
Some registered political parties that were recently deregistered by INEC have gone to court…
Cuts in…. They are just wasting their time. INEC is in order by de-registering them. Of what value have they been to the nation’s electoral system? It doesn’t even make sense for us to have over 70 political parties when most of these parties only exist in name. They have not been active over the years. Most of them are not only redundant but are long dead. Most of these political parties are made up of unserious people. It is time that people that are under the age of 50 take over the nation’s political landscape. Politicians that are over 60 should go and sit down. They should quit the stage for younger elements. All these people including Atiku, Tinubu that are over 60 should quit politics for younger elements. They should stop strategizing for 2023. They should go and rest. If independent candidates are allowed in 2023, then I will support one of them for Presidency What does Tinubu, Atiku, and other old politicians have to offer in 2023? They should vacate the stage for younger elements.
I also want to appeal to members of the National Assembly, especially the committee in charge of constitutional amendments that they should make recommendations for, or pass a bill incorporating independent candidature in our constitution. It is time independent candidates are allowed to run for elections in Nigeria. There should be constitutional provisions for independent candidates to run in 2023 general elections. There is no hope for Nigeria in either APC or PDP, or even in any of the existing political parties. Neither PDP nor APC can take Nigeria anywhere. There is no difference between the two. Nigerians putting their hopes on APC, PDP or any of the existing political parties are wasting their time.