•EFCC’s style cannot stop corruption
•What we expect from incoming govt
The outgoing Speaker of Kwara State House of Assembly, Dr Ali Ahmad, is a lawyer. He was a lecturer in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria when Dr Bukola Saraki invited him to join his government when he was elected as governor in 2003.He was Special adviser and commissioner for Justice at different times during the eight years of Dr Bukola Saraki as the governor of kwara state.
He was afterwards elected into House of Representatives, representing Ilorin East/Ilorin South federal constituency between 2011 and 2015 after which he returned to kwara to become the Speaker in the state house of assembly. He was also one of the governorship aspirants in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last election. He lost to Hon Razaq Atunwa, the party’s candidate who ultimately lost to Alh Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).Few days to his exit,he granted interview to selected journalists…..DEMOLA AKINYEMI was there. Excerpts:
What happens after the defeat of Saraki political dynasty?
We have taken a decision that there will be peaceful transition, which
is happening. We will not at all interfere with government. It is not they that the people voted for. It is we that people voted out. They never cared of who was on that ballot. It is this government that the people were tired of and booted out. We never had that feeling of disaffection or what we have done wrong. The people have ‘kobokoed’ us.
Now we are feeling the pains. We will correct ourselves and appeal to the people that we have changed for another come back.
Do you think the political dynasty of Dr Bukola Saraki can still bounce back?
For sure the dynasty will definitely bounce back but only God knows when…
How will you describe the arraignment of some officials of the state government by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged N20.3 million fraud?
Well, EFCC has the right to do what it has done. It has the right to invite anybody for investigation. I learnt that EFCC asked the state government to supply the earnings
of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki for his eight years as governor.
It is bizarre. You have the powers and abuse them. We cannot stop them. EFCC has that power to arrest anybody. Don’t be surprised I can be invited because of this my comment. EFCC has that power that was willingly donated to it. I just hope it will use it very well to fight corruption. It took these people to court for alleged N20.3 million fraud after eight or nine weeks.
Look at the houses that litter Abuja. They are owned by civil servants. I have not heard EFCC invite any of these people. I always said it that if Buhari leaves in 2023, this same system of fighting corruption is not sustainable.
You don’t fight corruption that only you believe in. You should take Nigerians along. I have said it that Buhari is the best person that can effectively fight corruption in this country. It is a great opportunity. Buhari could have brought corruption to a standstill in this country, he has integrity, he does not care about personal wealth. It is hard to find five percent of politicians like him. And people around him know that. I don’t know whether God has not answered our prayers but we will keep praying that God gives us somebody like Buhari that will now come and sit down with Nigerians, asks them questions on how to fight corruption. If you ask me I will not fight corruption through the courts.
It is slow. I have said it in some of speeches and writings. All these bamboozling of EFCC on what and what it has recovered and gotten judgments are just nonsense. That has not stopped corruption? That cannot stop corruption. Why do things that are not effective. That is not how to stop corruption.
Opposition is saying that the passage of the non dissolution of council executives is meant to shield corrupt politicians?
Answer….It is appropriate for the opposition to ask question, but they should also listen to our own response. The enactment or amendment of the law was fallout of a recent law. When you pass a law it is not yet a law until the court pronounces it. It is what the court says that it is a law. In this case it is true. We passed this law so many years ago.
Hitherto, everybody believed wrongly that governors had powers under the constitution to dissolve at will. Just three months ago, the Supreme Court, now declared that all these beliefs were wrong that no governor, under Section seven of the Constitution and subsidiary legislation of the state, has the right to dissolve a democratically elected executive members of the local government. So Supreme Court has spoken. Now that is the real law. So that means that everybody is under obligation to respect that law.
The law of Kwara state that says governor can dissolve has become obsolete. I don’t want to leave the assembly with dead laws in our statue because whether we like it or not it has become dead. So that answers the criticisms of the opposition.
Supreme Court did not decide last year. If you are looking at the correct, modern and most reflective law, Kwara state House of Assembly should be commended. But as I said, the opposition is entitled to its opinion.
As a politician in the state, can you tell us the foundation you have laid that the new government can build upon?
Government is in the continuum. We would want the incoming government to continue from what we have done. Let me start from the legislature. What we have done fundamentally. We have established budget passage from January to December. It is only two or three states that have maintained that in the country. It will be regrettable if the 9th assembly cannot continue with that. Even the Federal Government has not been able to maintain that.
Business people know that budget commences in January and ends in December. For successive three years in Kwara state we have been able to do early passage of budget. National Assembly has been battling with the presidency on that.
They even passed a law which the presidency failed to assent to. Early passage of budget is an excellent process that will aid good governance in Nigeria, which is what we are lacking. So I will want Kwara state, forget about Nigeria, by September or October, the governor should present his budget, the house does its work by calling experts so that by December it is passed and by January it becomes a law. This is a major thing I want the incoming legislature to continue with.
Secondly, on Wednesdays in the house, we have a tradition for the past three and half years not to wear any foreign attire to the assembly. We wear local materials from the tops to the shoes. This is what the Senate President Bukola Saraki has championed. With this we have been impacting on local tailors, local fabrics. We expect the incoming government to key in so that on Wednesdays, the whole assembly men will wear local materials. It might look simple but it will have
Another thing is that the outgoing government has not defaulted in paying salaries between 25th and 26th of every month. It is not easy because the federal allocation comes at the beginning of another month. We want the incoming administration to emulate that as Kwara is a civil service state. Elections have been won and lost but service to the people is paramount. I believe they are ready to continue on that.
As a proponent of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) in the country, how do you want that to operate in the state?
The bill was a private member bill and we brought to Kwara. We want the next government to continue on that. Before the 8th assembly private sponsored bills were not common in the state. What used to happen was to wait for the governor to send in bills to the assembly, but from our time we have instituted now that private member bills should take pre-eminence. Most of the landmark laws now in the state are private member bills. We have instituted it as a culture in Kwara state that members must look at what is happening and bring out those fantastic bills that people are yearning for. The Health Insurance Scheme law now in the state is a people-oriented bill.
The same thing with the ACJA, as a lawyer before I went to the National Assembly, I knew that that gap was there. Criminal cases could go on for ten to 15 years because of some steps and some loopholes, so when I got there it was easy. It was a bulky law. It is something that nobody cares about as it will not bring in money. For over three years former President Goodluck Jonathan did not sign it into law until the last days of his administration.