From ERIC OSAGIE and
IHENACHO NWOSU, Abuja
Elderstatesman and former Minister of Finance, Mallam Adamu Ciroma, has lashed out at the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, describing it as full of “too much corruption.”
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Saturday Sun at his Abuja residence, Ciroma said the subsidy payment scam, pension scheme fraud, alleged mismanagement and corruption at the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), among others, are indices of untamed corruption running wild in the Nigerian field.
Courageous and blunt, Ciroma, a former minister under the Shagari, Abacha and Obasanjo governments, had harsh words for General Babangida’s administration as well as Obasanjo’s. On Babangida, he says: “He destroyed the civil service, he destroyed the economy,”while he describes Obasanjo as a leader “who failed his country.”
Below are excerpts of the Ciroma interview:
What are some of the things happening in the country that make you sad?
I feel sad when I see some awards flying around for some people who clearly do not deserve them. Take the case of Yobe State, where the former governor was recently said to have been given the Mo award for what he did in rural development. I was talking with one man and he said: ‘Look, Yobe is the most wretched of the states in Nigeria; it is the poorest, the least developed.
There is lack of security there.” I said look, this man is one of the worst governors that has ruled any part of this country. But he was given an award in South Africa before; he was given the Mo award. What now happens is that some people who have no honour will meet and create one thing or the other and send it to somebody; ask him to finance the offer. The offer itself is worthless. The man who is receiving it is not worth it; that is what Nigeria is all about. You would never hear or see me accepting this honour or award because a lot of them are worthless. In your own case, you make me change my mind because I am not claiming to be any leader in this country, am not claiming anything; on your own you decided to give me the honour.
In this country, till date, we have not produced Nelson Mandela. Obasanjo, my very good friend, is not worth it. Nobody has reached that position, in terms of keeping to justice, fairness and honesty. Mandela is always concerned about the fate of the masses. We don’t have that leader who is always concerned about the fate of the masses, the ordinary Nigerian, the farmers.
If all of us have agreed that we would work for the good of the poor farmer, if he lives by an inch, it means that all of us would be richer by millions. But are we doing it? What we have is a National Assembly that eats one quarter of the resources of this country. We have a government that is greedy. So many billions of naira go into payment of oil subsidy. The children of big people are involved in these billions. Some people steal billions. And nothing is done to them.
The President says he is fighting insecurity; he said he was going to end it six months ago. Where are we today? He said he was going to stop subsidy. Where are we? Even before people knew how bad subsidy was, he gave impression that he was out to address it. But now he is talking about it again. The individuals in NNPC, look at what they have done with the national resources; nobody has said anything. I pity this country. But I am not hopeless. I believe things will come right some day.