….That allegation is not correct- Emodi
By Chioma Gabriel, Deputy Editor
Human Rights lawyer, Dr. Tunji Braithwaite was the presidential candidate for the Nigerian Advance Party (NAP) who came into political reckoning towards the end of the first phase of the Second Republic when his party NAP was registered to contest elections in the second phase of the Second Republic.
NAP failed to clinch a seat at any level in 1983. Dr Braithwaite has been vocal on national issues and in this encounter, he hails the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi for speaking up against the corrupt practices in the national assembly as it concerns the 25% overhead expenditure.
What’s your take on the face-off between the CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and the National Assembly?
The young man Sanusi, the CBN governor is absolutely correct in standing against the profligacy of these people in the National Assembly. After all, most of them did not win the election. But all we keep hearing is their demand for more money and more influence that there was even a time that the former late President Umaru Yar’Adua wanted to cut down their earnings.
The recent tribunal judgements on the elections in this country portrayed the facade of Nigerian elections. There are many imposter in the elections of this country that it required the judiciary to upturn some of these impostors who parade themselves as elected officials. This vindication is seen in the judgements of the courts in the gubernatorial elections in Edo, Ekiti, Osun, Ondo, Anambra who and several states, even in the National Assembly. It is a direct indictment of PDP which has been in government since 1999. So, I know that the people of this country must support anybody stands against the corruption and profligacy going on in this country.
I have gone down this memory lane in the past to highlight the steady and irreversible but dangerous descent into anarchy now facing us in Nigeria, due to our penchant for seeking an easy way out of a looming doom, and ignoring alarm bells.
Corruption, reckless corruption is the order of the day in the governance of this country with attendant horrible social consequences all round. I need to save time and space by not repeating what is already notorious in the context of rotten governance in Nigeria.
All these, believe it or not, affect the psyche of the average Nigerian. Indirectly or directly, these are the things that drive the young ones and the ones who are not able to achieve it in life to want to get it at all costs. That is what make people to cheat in the universities and even in the secondary schools
As far as we are concerned, there will be a revolution either before or during the elections. I’m very certain that this country is not yet erected on a foundation for democracy . What obtains in Nigeria today is nowhere near democracy, but a wholesale fraud, whereby a gang of impostors have for so long engaged in systematic destruction of national and personal aspirations of a potentially great country. Perhaps, the reality is that, the vaunted potentials of the country have been frittered away
But since our primary objective is to entrench a genuine democracy in Nigeria, the Interim Administration must “clean up” the country and dismantle all power blocs of corruption in the land, to make a nation governed by law, Justice and fear of God, instead of the present rule by criminals.
But from the point of view of the national assembly, Sanusi has not substantiated his claims order than trying to put the legislators in a bad light in the eyes of Nigerians.
What we are talking about here is figures. There is this saying that figures don’t lie. So, it is for the national assembly to explain why the legislators exceed their annual earnings rather than asking the CBN Governor to explain. He has the figures and quoted what was already in the papers. The election tribunals have proven right what Sanusi was saying. And like I said earlier, a revolution would sweep out all these impostors.
Would you say that INEC would conduct credible elections going by the statistics on the ground?
The present regime cannot conduct credible elections. There is nothing on ground to prove that there is serious preparations for elections next year. This year has already ended. Constitution amendment is not yet resolved. Electoral Act amendment is still at the National Assembly. There is nothing to ascertain the seriousness that conduct of elections require. So, really, I think there has to be an interim national government in place if we want to conduct any meaningful election.
It is the Interim Administration shall organise and conduct genuine, free and transparent elections in 2011 or shortly thereafter, depending on how quickly its sole mandate of cleaning up the nation is accomplished.
What’s your opinion of Atiku Abubakar as consensus candidate of the North and Jonathan contesting against the zoning policy of PDP?
The zoning pattern is an idea of the PDP. Zoning is not constitutional no matter how you approach the argument. Nigerians should stand up in defence of the constitution. People like us are not interested in what is going on in PDP because PDP as a political party does not have credibility. They rigged themselves into power and whatever they try to do by way of zoning or consensus does not bother me. So, we are not interested in what is not constitutional or how these people are rigging themselves into power. We are concerned with having a revolution that will push them out because I don’t see any of these people who were rigged in conducting a credible election for Nigeria.
We need a revolution. I have been saying this for years and I know what I am saying. No sensible person would look around and say things are okay.
That is why I am proud of the CBN Governor for starring at the truth and uttering the truth. We need a revolution and it would come.
Anybody saying that Nigerians are peaceful and would not want a revolution is talking nonsense. No nation has made it without some form of revolution. Revolution can be political, social or industrial or whatever. Or haven’t you heard of American war of independence.? Haven’t you heard of Boston Tea Party which was a rebellion of the colonised enslaved people of the US against imperialism across the Atlantic Ocean. So, if you are saying that Nigerians are not ready for a revolution, then, you got it wrong.
That allegation is not correct – Emodi
Senator Joy Emodi represented Anambra North Senatorial District in the National Assembly before her election was nullified by the Court of Appeal, Enugu, on the grounds that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, wrongfully declared her, winner of the 2007 election.
Her opponent in the election, Chief Alphonsus Igbeke of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP was declared winner of the senatorial seat, which Mrs. Emodi had occupied for a period of two years and ten months.
Emodi who was the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, came into the Senate in 2005 after winning her petition at the same Appeal Court against Senator Emmanuel Anosike of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, who contested the April 2003 Senatorial election with her.
Since the annulment of her election, Emodi has decamped to All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, where she is seeking to re contest in the forthcoming elections.
In this interview, Emodi reacts to the statement of the CBN Governor on 25% overhead cost to the National Assembly saying there could be a misconception as the earnings and allowances of legislators is different from the cost of running the office of a legislator. Emodi suggests the two be separated saying that as a senator her earnings were not outrageous. She advised that the issue be properly looked into to avoid putting legislators in bad light in the eyes of the public.
Do you think the National Assembly is innocent of the allegation made by the CBN governor on the issue of 25% overhead?
That allegation is not correct. I was in the National Assembly and I think what the CBN governor is talking about is not the personal income of the legislators in terms of earnings and allowances because if it is that, I don’t think that is correct. But if he is talking about the general spending including earnings, allowances and the budget used in running the office of a legislator, that is different . Everything added up could amount to that but that has to be verified. I have the pay slips of my earnings and it is nothing near what the CBN Governor said.
I am not a Mathematician but I know it is not true. I don’t have the facts and figures but from my earnings, I know it is not true.
But if what I am suspecting is right which is the inclusion of the overhead in running offices, that is different because that budget is usually retired. It is the officers of the National Assembly that handle that. If it is the personal earnings, it is not outrageous . That amount for the running of the offices is not part of the earning of a legislator but it seems what they have done is add up all these and then conclude is the what is being spent by legislators.
I can even tell you that the committees in the National Assembly are under-funded and if you have a very large committee like my Committee on Education, we find it very difficult to do an effective oversight. I don’t think legislators earnings are outrageous. It is not something that can be hidden because its all figures. I think what really needs to be done is to separate the earnings and allowances of national assembly members from the cost of running their offices which is done separately by officers of the national assembly and retired
at the end of the day.
There is so much poverty in the country and legislators cannot be insensitive to this. I don’t believe this allegation is true.
What’s your take on the legislators concentrating more on what should benefit them personally than on the issues of national interest?
I don’t see anything wrong with legislators wanting to become members of the NEC of their parties if that is what you mean. In my party All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, members of the National Assembly are all members of National Executive Committee of the party. So, I don’t see any problem in legislators becoming automatic members of NEC of their parties. Except if it is because of the number of PDP members in the National Assembly that it has become an issue because of their number but outside that, I don’t see the problem there.
The only way for democracy to achieve its purpose is for the elected members of the parties in the National Assembly to belong to the NEC of their parties. That way, they will represent their people better than they are doing. APGA is doing it. Some members of other political parties in the National Assembly are doing it. So, I do not see any big deal about that. It is the right thing to do.
You know the National Assembly wants the CBN Governor to apologise for his statement because the lawmakers fear it would put legislators in bad light in the eye of the public.
Really, it will There is this misconception that members of the National Assembly earn large sums but it is not true. We have our pay slips which can be shown and that is why I said there could be a misconception somewhere. There is need to separate the costs of running the office of a legislator from his earnings and allowances. They are two different things.
How does it feel, leaving PDP for APGA. The crisis in that party is emanating again?
Really, there is no party that does not have crisis. Take a look at all the parties,. But I know, what is happening in APGA is being well managed and I don’t think t is affecting the party and the fortunes of the contestants.
There are so many judgements on APGA, sometimes they are confusing. Who is in charge now?
Well, INEC has come out with a position and they have adopted the leadership of Victor Umeh and even the last time the party had its NEC meeting, INEC sent its representatives. I think it is better to toe the line of INEC and recognise Victor Umeh as Chairman of the party which is what the party has done. All the same, I believe that whatever is dividing the entire APGA as a political party could be resolved and peace would reign. I am praying for amicable solution to APGA’s problems and I believe we will get it.
What are your plans for 2011?
I have been in my constituency in Anambra North, working and acquainting my supporters with my new party. I have been campaigning too and I look forward to an election that is free and fair and controversy-free. It is true that when elections are approaching, so many things happen , there are protests in parties, crises here and there but I believe we will have a free and fair election.