Hon Abubakar Momoh, a two term member of the House of Representatives from Etsako Federal Constituency, Edo State in this interview insists that the probe into arms acquisition should not be restricted to the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan if the Federal government is to be taken serious in its anti- corruption war.
By Gabriel Enogholase
Were you surprised to hear that funds meant for arms purchase was diverted to other uses?
No, I wasn’t surprised. We were aware that these things happened, not just during the Jonathan administration, but right from Obasanjo’s time. If the probe will be taken back to that time, all former head of states should be assembled to give account of arms purchased by their administrations.
It did not start with Jonathan’s administration but it is just a system that has been established which Jonathan inherited and continued with.
So, if I were the president, I will do my best to collect money from those I can and then establish a procedure that everybody will know that, once you embezzle government funds, you will be prosecuted. That is how to end corruption.
But when you decided to focus on the immediate past administration then people will begin to read meaning into it and see it as witch-hunting and victimization.
There is nothing that was done in the administration of Jonathan that was not done in the administrations of Yar’Adua and Obasanjo. The fact remains that a tradition had been established and because it is a system, you passed it from one administration to another.
We thank God that a man has come to say no, we cannot continue that system. I also believe that if the man had come when things were buoyant, people around him would have been doing it even if he is honest.
I believe that the president is on track and he is trying to set a standard for all to follow; if anybody falls below that standard, he would have committed an offense.
People see the money as huge sums of money, but during the oil boom, they saw it as small money.
Small boys had billions of dollars in their account throughout that period of oil boom. But what had happened this time around is when the prices of oil have crash and we are looking for money.
Many people who were involved in such acts thought Jonathan will continue and nothing will happen. We must also be cautious because once a person’s name is mention, people see him as being corrupt but it is wrong.
People mentioned Tanko Yakassai who collected money from Tony Anenih, Rasheed Ladoja and the rest only collected; what they were given was for election.
Were you expecting that they should have asked where the government got the money from? It is not possible. So such people should not be asked to return their money because it was given for them to do something with.
N260million is nothing to Anenih that you can say he embezzled. Mr. President cannot give him the money for election and he will ask him where he got the money from? If government wants to curb corruption, let them go to the ministries, which is where the real corruption is taking place.
They should not limit it to Dasuki alone because people will read meaning to it. People like Raymond Dokpesi should not be blamed for collecting money for advert from NSA because he cannot ask him where he got the money.
There are rumours that you are eyeing the Edo state governorship seat in the July election. What is your reaction?
For now, I cannot give you a definite answer. We hear funny names of people who ordinarily cannot win councillorship election saying they want to be governor. Majority of those indicating interest don’t have political structures; they are just fortunate to have little money.
Apart from one or two of them, none of them has ever held a serious position in government.
If I don’t contest, I will work with the person who is going to be governor to ensure that he wins. I know who is going to be the next governor and I will deploy my entire political arsenals to ensure that he wins.
There seems to be a rift between you and Governor Adams Oshiomhole, how true is that and what is your assessment of his administration?
Immediately the governor conceived the idea of contesting, I stood with him. But since he won, he has been on a war path with me. He came with a vision and I can say that to a reasonable extent, he has tried his best with the reasonable resources available.
But I will advise him to relate well with people. What will crown his success is his ability to midwife a process that will produce the best to take over from him. If he doesn’t produce a successor that will continue his vision, then he has not done well.
What is your take on the agitation for the sovereign state of Biafra?
The agitation for the sovereign state of Biafra has been on for a long time; we use to know of Ralph Uwazuruike. It is just that the baton seems to have changed hands from him to that of Nnamdi Kanu.
Those of us who were growing up during the Nigerian -Biafra war knew what it cost the nation; that is why we will call on the federal government to see how they can scale down the agitation before it escalates to something like the Boko- Haram insurgency in the North- East region of the country. It is a mere agitation that can be addressed.
It will only be a problem when the leadership wants to use force. The president can talk to the Igbo leaders to talk to their people.