‘Nigeria can only fight corruption with strong institutions’

The negative aspect of corruption is that people take the money outside the country. they will go and spent it elsewhere, so that we will all miss the opportunity for development. If they can steal and spend it within Nigeria, Nigerians will benefit. But, when they take it out, we will start to lose as a nation. That is the most terrible aspect of corruption.

People in Gujba and Gulani are displaced by the Boko haram insurgency. The communities needs rehabilitation and reconstruction. Can we know the position of the Northeast Development Commission?

Well, Gujba and Gulani were once completely taken over by Boko haram militants. For over two years, I have not been able to go to my village. this is to tell you how serious the situation was. now, peace has returned. Most of the boko haram have been killed or disappeared, and people are going back to their villages.

It‘s fortunate that we could not hold election in some of the liberated communities, because pockets of the Boko haram militants in those locations are still heating on soft targets. but, definitely, they don’t have a territorial control of even a square inch of Gulani and Gujba local government areas.

As peace gradually returned, the state government is helping a lot in carrying food and all sorts of basic human requirements to those communities, and people will use the facilities to clear their farms in this rainy season.

The Northeast Development Commission is a permanent body just like Niger Delta Development Commission; it will attract budgetary attention and allocation every year. We have gone through the first reading and second reading. what remains is the third reading and the passage of the bill. And there has not been any opposition from anybody on this commission. So, it is just a matter of patience and things well be all right.

But people in these communities have returned without shelter, some even sleep in an open…

The return of peace is the biggest consoling factor in all the equation. things will continue to get better and government will continue to help at the local, state and federal levels. In addition to that, the national assembly members’ caucuses on geopolitical zones are also helping matters. We have recently met and agreed that every senator should donate the  sum of N1 million and every member, house of representatives N500, 000. The money will be directly deducted and then, whatever the national assembly leadership gives will be put together and brought  to them as assistance. We have been doing that over and over again.

What is your take on the Saraki case?

Well, Saraki saga is an unfortunate saga.  The  saga is a saga, it will still continue. Saraki will be tried; the court will definitely make their pronouncement. Whatever the court decides, we will obey the court. The worst that could happen is to go to the Supreme Court where everything ends. But, I can assure you that 99 percent of the senate is behind Saraki for a simple reason that we are all human beings and we do make mistakes.

When you stay as a governor for eight years or a big man for many years, there is no way you can account for every kobo. So, if anybody wants to investigate you thoroughly, he will find a fault here and there. They may not necessarily be a falsehood you are intended in any way to harm the economy or not intended to be a financial crime as being speculated.

But, do you believe that the trial is politically motivated?

I believe so, but politically motivated from which angle? It looks like it is a local political motivation from Kwara. Definitely, President Muhammadu Buhari has no hand, and definitely the federal government of Nigeria did not initiate it. It was a local politics in Ilorin. People made complaints. They gave out the details of what they thought Saraki had and he didn’t declare. That was how EFCC came in and started investigation.

You said it would be difficult for somebody to be a governor for eight years and make no mistake. Do we assume that former governors in the senate were in solidarity with Saraki?

Of course, yes. You pretty knew that there are so many governors who are in the same shoes with Saraki, whose trials have been initiated, but they were not publicised like that of Saraki because he is the Senate president. Almost every former governor in the senate with the exception of Bukar Abba Ibrahim has one case or the other with EFCC or CCT. Some had even died like the case like Alamas… or Alamesia (Alamieyeseigha) and others.

It’s not easy to fight corruption, especially when it comes to an individual. That is why those of us do believe that corruption can best be dealt with through institutions. Let’s strengthen our institution. Stop giving out bribe and also taking  bribes. If nobody gives out, nobody takes and all things being equal. Institutional fight against corruption is actually the best fight we can have as a nation. It has begun and it will continue for a very long time.

The negative aspect of corruption is that people take the money outside the country. they will go and spent it elsewhere, so that we will all miss the opportunity for development. If they can steal and spend it within Nigeria, Nigerians will benefit. But, when they take it out, we will start to lose as a nation. That is the most terrible aspect of corruption.

But, there is this apprehension that, if the court verdict does not favour Saraki, the PDP will take control of the House. In fact, some even said that the PDP has taken over the Senate?

How, Why? The APC is still in the majority; whether Saraki is in or out, there is no way PDP can take over senate presidency with the presence of over 60 senators from APC against 50 PDP senators. There is just no way.

The last time, they had what they had. The PDP had to come in and assist Saraki to win Senate President. Because so many APC senators were asked to go to the International Conference Centre, we were there and we don’t even know what was happening. they had the election. So, the PDP were in the majority then and they forced the APC who are in the minority then to agree that Saraki is the President and Ekweremadu is the deputy senate president.

It‘s not that in any way we are against Ike Ekweremadu. he is a good legislator. I don’t mind him continuing to be deputy senate president, because he is a very decent human being. But there is no way the leadership will be taken over by PDP.

When you contested for Presidency with President Muhammadu Buhari, you said at the eagle square that Buhari was unsellable.  Do you still hold to that impression?

I attempted. I absolutely believe in Buhari. I absolutely believed in his leadership. He has been tested, tried and found to be worthy leader. He is a leader who is incorruptible, honest, transparent, and straightforward and a leader who will tell you direct as he knows and understand.

Besides, at that time I wanted to be president, do you want me to be praising Buhari or what?

Is it because you are in the same political party that is why you are praising him now?

No, we were in the same political party when I stepped down for him, and condemned him. Because I wanted to be president, so I needed  to get something against him, no matter how minor. But now, we are on the same page, the same party, and I really trust him.

The government of APC will be one year old on May 29. As a senator, what do you think is the problem with the administration?

You know, when things go wrong for a very long period of time, improving it  and bringing normalcy will never be easy, it takes time. President Muhammadu Buhari has collected, now in his custody over N2.5 trillion from people whom with impunity stole our money within the period of nearly one year you have talked about, and he is still collecting.

What is now delaying things is the lack of the passage of the bill on the budget.  It will be illegal for the President to spend any money without appropriation. He is waiting for appropriation, and I understand that by next week, he will sign the budget, budget would be law and once it becomes law, Buhari will be the most anxious to implement it. I know the kind of hardship people are going through. We, the elected people, know how it bites our pockets, everyday from Monday to Friday I have to send out N300,000 to N400,000 to people in dire  need in my constituency and other areas. I believed other legislators are also under the same problem. So, our hope is that thing will be better very soon, InshaAllah.

You have been elected three times as governor and now senator for the third time. There is the rumour that Governor Gaidam will contest your position, having come from the same zone. Will you contest with him?

Well, 2019 is still very far away from now. I haven’t thought about it at all, but I can assure you if the governor wants to have my senatorial seat in 2019, it is all his. I have had enough. I made my contributions, I  have made my point. I have a lot of other things to do, particularly educating my children, taking care of my farm, my constituency, my state and appearing in national affairs. So, I don’t think there is going to be any controversy at all. If he wants, it I will hand over to him and he doesn’t want it, I will take it. And, definitely, will not have primary election with governor Ibrahim Gaidam not to talk about having election again him in the PDP. I will never be in PDP; of course I will always oppose PDP because they are on the right wing politics and I am always at the left wing politics whether slightly or further down.

The name Bukar Abba Ibrahim is a household name in Yobe politics and the country as a whole. Can you survive without politics?

I started politics right from primary school like Malam Aminu Kano. I have been in politic for the last 60 years, on and off. So, I do intend to be on the left till I die, and I will continue to contribute till  I die because no human being will live forever.

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