As an individual, I have had a personal experience with Magu, where he stood up for what is right. I remember during the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, where he because we were fighting some of the issues then, some of us were sent to the EFCC. I remember I was sent to Magu’s office. They were trying to get him to investigate something of ten, twelve years ago. I remember Magu said nobody was going to use him.
You said former governors have cases?.
Some of them have cases that have lasted over ten years. Was it Magu that brought the cases? Magu did not bring about the cases. Magu did not know about their cases. Their cases are in court. Can Magu go to court and withdraw the cases.
These are just cheap blackmail. We have to decide whether we want to strengthen these institutions or not.
By the type of democracy we are practising, check and balances, independent arms of government, you present I confirm, so it means that there will be a day you will not confirm. So if you don’t confirm have I committed a crime? The days I confirm, I don’t commit a crime, the day I don’t confirm, all hell will break loose. These are processes.
It is very unfortunate. When people say we don’t want to fight corruption, does fighting corruption start and end with an individual? It doesn’t.
We have played our role. We will leave posterity to judge us. It was done live. It wasn’t that we did it at night in a close-door and then announced the result to the public. They saw it. You can ask them if it looked as if this gentleman was not given fair hearing or something. Our argument is; Today it is Magu, tomorrow it could be a president. Today we have an honest transparent President, tomorrow we could have a corrupt dishonest president who brings his best man to be the Governor of Central Bank and together they want to connive and steal money.
They take the name to senate and if senate rejects it, the president will say, my friend, continue. So it is about systems and processes.
Some will win, some will not win and I think what we should do, this institution, whether you like Saraki or you don’t, like Ekweremadu, it is not about us. By the end of our tenure we will go. It is the institution. We cannot belittle or weaken the institutions because it is that institution that separates democracy from dictatorship.
In dictatorship, you have government, you have judiciary. The only thing you don’t have is parliament. When you weaken the parliament, you have weakened democracy. If you think by so doing you are weakening Saraki, you are not, but the institution.
Some people have vested interest and instead of them to declare their vested interest, they pretend as if they are fighting for the system. They are not fighting for the system because we know they are not fighting for the system. Unfortunately those that don’t know would believe they are fighting for the system. We have moved on from that, as you can see, the last few weeks we have passed about three or four anti-corruption bills, again trying to support the system. Whistle Blower Protection Bill: trying to support the system, we’ve also passed the Bill on witness and then recently after we got suspended by Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, we quickly moved so that this suspension can be lifted. So whatever way we can do, we’ll help the fight against corruption. We are playing our role.
In the wake of the Northeast crisis, the National Assembly took a lot of steps to support IDPs, including the pledge to donate N300,000 by each senator to assist. What really is the situation and has that pledge been redeemed?
To the best of my knowledge that is already happening, we are contributing the money like we promised. But I think it goes beyond just that. We have shown that we will continue to support them in form of appropriation and providing good funding.
As you saw just last week, we also approved some foreign loans that will go towards supporting activities and palliatives in the North East to fight the humanitarian crisis. I think it was about $800 million that we approved for the executive from that point of view.
We are always ready to support men and women in uniform to ensure that they get whatever they require.
We have been meeting with a lot of NGOs working in the North East. We are looking at the possibility of seeing what we can do to create more incentives for Nigerians, individuals and companies to make more donations for the North East.
Recently SERAP alleged that some of you are collecting pension and salary. Is it justified with the allegation?
Well I am not collecting pension or salary as former governor of Kwara State. When it started some of us did not see that part of the law, but the moment I saw that, I wrote to my state and said they should stop my pension.
So I speak for myself on that part, I am not doing that and I leave everybody to their own decision.
I think the pension law was made assuming that when you leave office you were going to retire to the farm. I didn’t think they were expecting you to still remain in government.