SENATOR Adeleke Olurunnimbe Mamora medical doctor turned politician was speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly at the advent of the Fourth Republic in 1999 and followed up his legislative strides with two successive terms in the Senate where he largely imprinted upon the populace through his principled and punchy interventions. A chorister in his local Lagos Baptist church, Senator Mamora who was the deputy director of the triumphant Buhari Presidential Campaign Organisation, in this interview responds to assertions of misuse of resources by the National Assembly and the alleged selectivity in the fight against corruption among other issues.
By Dapo Akinrefon
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo recently wrote a letter to the presiding officers of the National Assembly faulting the proposal for the purchase of vehicles and other sundry matters relating to the Assembly. What is your take on the stance of the former president?
Let us look at this issue from certain perspectives. The legislature is a separate arm of government, it has its own procedures, operations and ways but all these will still be under the aim of due process and must be in line with best practices.
I think what will appear to me is that people will want to be sure that due processes of transparency and accountability are brought to bear in the management of affairs across board in government.
Misunderstood and misrepresented
Of course, when you talk of government, it has three components (the executive, legislature and judiciary). I believe that the legislature has been unduly misunderstood and misrepresented a lot of times and, that is what my experience shows, to the extent that it has become the whipping boy of the arms of government.
This is rather unfortunate because it is the legislature that really represents the concept of democracy where every decision is taken through a majority process or decision. It would appear that over the years, it has become the fall guy of the arms of government. Everything is just thrown at the legislature and I think that it should not be that way.
I have not looked at the arguments on both sides but all I am saying is that the legislature has been unduly hammered at times. Having said that, I do know that it is the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission that determines the emoluments of all public holders.
I think what we should be looking at is not just the legislature. Are the funds in tandem with RMAFC provided for them? I think that should be issue? Once it is in line, then, there should be no cause for any problem because all these things have been stated.
It is just a matter of following what has been laid down and approved and ensuring the execution of what has been approved by relevant provisions of law or through a due process. That is all, this is the issue. Whether vehicles or not, I know that vehicle allowance has been provided for. What I think is not right is to demonise the legislature.
There are many imperfections in our governance system which cut across the three arms of government.
While Chief Obasanjo is entitled to his personal views on issues in the polity, what should not be allowed is any attempt to demonize the National Assembly and make the institution the fall guy of the three arms of government.
The economic realities of the moment demand cost cutting which should be across board and not selective. This should be based on due process as constitutionally vested in RMAFC.
Is that not what the former president is trying to do?
I am not saying that but my understanding on the face value is that the former president is asking for accountability and transparency but the focus should not always be on the National Assembly alone. We should understand the issues and not try to demonise the legislature.
How many times have we asked: what are the things available to the minister who is unelected? The focus is always on the legislature but transparency and accountability are components of good governance and it should be at all levels and not just hammering at only one arm of government in a manner that will portray that arm of government as the weeping boy of as the fall guy. That is the point I am making.
Do you agree with those who say that the administration is using the investigations into the reported misuse of $2.1 billion earmarked for arms in the office of the National Security Adviser to fight a selective war against corruption?
That statement is a fallacy.
Why do you say that?
The former governor of Zamfara State is from which party? Is he not an APC senator? There are others like that. I think it is just the question of which cases have the anti-corruption agencies concluded to be brought before the court? Don’t forget, there is a procedure that must be complied with before a case is brought before the court.
Assuming but not conceding in any way that it is one sided, for those that cases have been raised against, was there any one arraigned that did not have a prima facie case established against him? There is no selectivity in this thing and that is why I said it is a fallacy, it is a statement of convenience which some people will make.
Former President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan recently addressed a press conference but failed to address the issue of the arms scandal. What do you make of this?
Well, I would not be in a position to read his mind as to why he decided not address the issue but I can guess that it may be that the case is before the court and so, to that extent, it is subjudice. If that is his reason, it may be right to have done that.
Away from that, Cardinal Okogie, in his statement, said the president is running a one man show.
I do not agree. The way the constitution of the country is structured, makes it impossible for the president to run a one man show. We are not in a dictatorship, even in a dictatorship, the head of junta cannot even do it alone.
That is not true. The job at hand is too enormous for the president to run a one man show. If it were to be a one man show, there wouldn’t be ministers and Special Advisers. The president has been meticulous.
The cardinal also maintained that the president is making corruption his only agenda.
That is not true, that president is not making corruption his only his only agenda. No, the party went out, during the electioneering campaign, and made promises to the people. The three major cardinal promises to the people were: to fight corruption, to fight insurgency and then, to fix the economy. So, the president is acting within the ambit of his promises to the people, of which corruption is a major aspect. That is not to say that the other aspects of his promises are being neglected.
But Nigerians are anxious
Nigerians are bound to be anxious, I will not be surprised if they are not anxious because anxiety is part of human nature and I do not have a problem about that. It is just the fear of the unknown. If the president does not fight corruption headlong, corruption will kill Nigeria and that is the truth.
Funding deficit in the budget
If the president and his administration are able to fight corruption to a standstill and retrieve money, then, we will not need to borrow to fund the deficit in the budget. The amount of money out there is more than enough to fund the budget. It is a wise thing. If the budget is well funded, that will translate in boosting the economy. If the economy is boosted, of course, majority of Nigerians will smile at the end of the day. There will be employment, the industries will be better. It will have a multiplier effect.
Yes, because these things are not happening, that is enough to give people cause for anxiety but like I said, anxiety is part and parcel of the human nature.
What is important is that the goal is there which is being pursued. Don’t forget, we also have things we don’t have control over and that is the fall in crude oil. It is just a challenge and an opportunity.
Painful as it is, it is an opportunity for us to now purpose the cause of diversification of the economy and that is why the president will always talk about the solid minerals sector and the agricultural sector. These are the things to expect.
Are you a Tinubu boy as some of you have been tagged so?
(Cuts in) I do not think so. I have been a long political associate to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. He is a leader and my leader.
There is the assumption that there is a Cold War between the former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Tinubu and the president
To the best of my knowledge, I am not privy to that.
Just last week, the governor of Kogi State, Mr Yahaya Bello was sworn-in without a deputy, a first in the history of the country. What do you make out of this?
It is novel and never been before, there is always a first time, but it will form a process of developing our political system. It is something we have look into and know the implications and the interpretation in terms of law because nation building is a continuous process.
But does it not show a crack in your party?
I don’t see it as a crack, don’t forget that when a citizen feels aggrieved, the citizen will be free to go to court. For me, it is just testing the process and the law. The meaning of any law is not fully established until it is tested in court. That is the beauty if democracy.