Posted by By Everest Amaefule and Babatunde Oke on
The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, on Tuesday said some state governors seeking the presidency in 2007...
The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, on Tuesday said some state governors seeking the presidency in 2007 were using public funds to pursue their ambition.
In his address to the National Summit on the Challenges of Transition in 2007, organised in Abuja by the Nigeria Labour Congress, he said the names of all governors being investigated by the commission would soon be published, to stop them from participating in the 2007 poll.
He also said the major problem of the Niger Delta was corruption of political leaders from the region.
Other speakers at the forum included the President of the Senate, Chief Ken Nnamani, and a former speaker, House of Representatives, Alhaji Ghali Na‘Abba, both of whom spoke on the importance of a transparent electoral process.
The President of the NLC, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, also used the forum to set agenda for President Olusegun Obasanjo‘s successor.
Ribadu, in his paper, argued that there could never be a free and fair election in the country unless corrupt people were stopped from participating.
He said, "You will never have a free and fair election when you have corrupt persons in the country with huge money. They have taken your own money to ensure that we will never have a free and fair election.
"It is our money, it is not their money, and so we must stop them from using the money to influence important decisions such as elections.
"We shall remove all corrupt leaders from contesting elections because our past leaders turned this country into a tokunbo (second hand) state. It is not possible to have free and fair elections where corrupt people are allowed to contest elections, because with their stolen wealth they can influence so many things and authority.
"I will not stop at any thing to expose them. I have lost friends, made enemies, lost confidants. People have lost confidence in me, but the job must be done."
He urged workers, especially members of the NLC, to help stop such people from having the opportunity to use their money to influence elections.
Ribadu blamed political leaders of the Niger Delta for the region‘s woes.
He said, "If you see what is happening in the Niger Delta, you will weep for the zone. Leaders there, every local government chairman, nearly every governor there is not clean.
"We got one already in our custody with over N20billion. Why are we fooling ourselves?
"Why are we not just being honest? How can we ever solve this problem if, really, things like these are going on in our country?"
The EFCC boss alleged that not less than N200million was in the account of each of the council chairmen in the area.
He also said many people who wanted to be president were seeking the office mainly because of the nation‘s fat foreign reserves, and he vowed that his commission would expose them.
He said, "Some of the governors jostling for the position of president are using public funds. They have seen that we have over $30billion in our foreign reserves, and they want to come have party with it.
"They have been around and they want to come back and rule us. What moral right does any one has to go after 419 people and leave the kingpins who stole the nation‘s money?
"Some of these people have no background, no education and no honour. We have been shortchanged for too long. We have been cheated and that is not right.
"When I saw the list of those attending this summit, I said today is a great day; I am going to meet some of them. We will expose them; we will tell you who they are."
Ribadu added, "If you don‘t fight them; how can good people stand for election? How can a university lecturer be able to contest election against people who have stolen billions of naira? If you don‘t fight them, an honest person cannot win election in Nigeria.
"We will take the heat. We will continue to be abused, but we will not relent. We may not be doing our job perfectly, but we can swear that we are doing it honestly. We have been given an opportunity and we want to show that we can do something. We are not in the struggle for anything."
Oshiomhole warned that Labour and its civil society allies would stage an unprecedented national protest should the 2007 poll be rigged.
The labour leader charged Nigerians to be ready to defend their votes.
He said Nigerians must ensure a free and transparent election, and collectively prevent those who corruptly enriched themselves and abused their positions from using their loot to manipulate the electoral system.
Articulating the position of the NLC on the 2007 elections, Oshiomhole said irrespective of who became the next president, some vital aspects of the present reforms must be sustained.
"What are the aspects of the reforms that can form the basis of evolving national fundamentals irrespective of the party in power post 2007? The first, in our view, is the notion of reforms itself.
"As a people, we must challenge ourselves to continually evolve new thinking and new ways of addressing the challenges of development," he added.
Aspects of the reforms which Oshiomhole said must be sustained included due process and transparency, poverty eradication and job creation, the consolidation of banking sector reforms, eradication of debt overhang, funded pension scheme and commitment to a living wage.
He, however, opposed the planned sack of 33,000 civil servants, saying, "As we have always maintained, the most enduring strategy to fight poverty is the creation and sustenance of decent jobs.
"Citizens who are willing and able to work should be empowered through decent employment to contribute to social progress and earn decent livelihood. This is a critical area that requires new initiative and creative thinking in post-2007."
On his part, Nnamani stressed the need for transparency in the electoral process so as to enhance its legitimacy.
"He said, "What is so critical is the process, not the outcome in arriving at the number. People are going to ask questions."
The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Umar Abdullahi, who spoke on "Nigerian Judiciary and the Challenges of Free and Fair Elections in 2007," said that haphazard electoral process arrangements could hamper the next poll.
He said courts should be allowed to intervene in any case of breach of the political parties‘ constitutions, so as to forestall crisis.