By Emman Ovuakporie&Johnbosco Agbakwuru
MR. Kayode Oladele represents Egbado North/Imeko Afon Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives. Oladele, who is a former staff of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and is presently the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes, in this chat speaks on the fight against corruption among other issues.
What is your evaluation of the anti-corruption fight?
Before you can determine whether a particular administration is fighting corruption, you have to look at the determination of that government on the matter.
The first thing you look at is the political will and I have said that the current administration has the determination and political will to fight corruption. I worked with the EFCC before becoming a lawmaker, so I am sure of what I am talking about. Political will is key to fighting corruption. So the current administration has the political will. Even the President has given the EFCC the free hand to operate unlike in the past when the executive interfered with its work.
Since I became the chairman of the House Committee on Financial Crimes, I have not received any petition against the EFCC or on executive interference the way it used to be in the past.
In addition, there is this international organization called the International Action Task Force. It is an inter-governmental organisation that works on the procedure and modalities for fighting corruption as well as terrorism financing. It is an organisation that every country that is really desirous of fighting corruption desires to join. In 2014 Nigeria applied to be a member of the organisation but there was no follow-up. But upon the assumption of office, this administration applied to the secretariat in France and I can tell you that I followed it up alongside my colleague in the Senate. So far, South Africa is the only country in Africa that is a member of the international task force and with Nigeria’s acceptance we would be the second country. Of course, Nigeria is very vital to them in the fight against corruption and terrorism financing.
Don’t you think the fight so far is selective?
When you talk of selective prosecution of anti-corruption cases by the EFCC, I always don’t understand the objectives of such assessment.
You will remember that the PDP ruled Nigeria from 1999 to 2015 and the APC just came in less than 2years. Definitely, if you are looking at where the EFCC is likely to focus attention, it would be on those that have been controlling the federal government for 16years. And I can also tell you that as a former Chief of Staff at the EFCC, we did some investigations, anti-corruption profiles of the arms of government and discovered that about 70 percent of the corruption cases are from the centre, while the local government was second. The state government was third. 70 percent of the funds in Nigeria belong to the federal government. How many states were controlled by the APC?
So it is logical that most of the cases being investigated are linked to those that were in power before. We are looking at individual cases, not even the political parties because some of the former office holders have also crossed to the APC and some of them are being investigated. It is not true that when someone crosses to the APC he will be pardoned. There is nothing like selective prosecution.
What about the issue involving the EFCC boss about the document the DSS released to the Senate indicting him?
If the executive had met, do you think that report would have gotten to the Senate? Whether that report is porous or it is credible, it shows that the President did not have a hand in it. And it only goes to support what I am saying. It supports my view that the President does not interfere in any operation. But in any event we are not talking about the credibility of that report itself.
What is your take on the 2017 budget presented by the President?
Before we can go straight to discuss my take on the 2017 budget, I think we have to look at the 2016 budget and where we are. The 2016 budget was estimated to be about 6trillion naira, out of which 1.4trillion was for debt servicing, 2.6trillion for recurrent expenditure, 1.5trillion for capital expenditure among others. If you look at all of these, let’s see how that has been implemented this year, in doing so we also should be mindful of the fact that the budget was passed late. It was signed in May. We are not really at the full implementation stage.
But then if you look at the capital expenditure for instance that was put at 1.5trillion, as of the time the President made the presentation last week, the executive had implemented about N700billion that is close to half of what we have on the capital expenditure.
And if you also compare that N700billion to 2015 budget, you will agree with me that even as at October this year, the federal government had exceeded what they spent in 2015 on capital projects because what they spent on capital in 2015 was less than N700billion and by October this year more than 700billion had been spent representing close to 49 percent of the capital expenditure.
One of the reasons implementation has been very slow is partly because of poor revenue generation from either the oil sector or non oil sector. By the middle of this year, government was expecting to have collected in terms of revenue about N1.9trillion but within that same period about N900billion was collected leaving a deficit of 51 percent.