15 September 2015, Abuja – Alhaji Idi Mohammed Farouk, Chairman (Media and Publicity), North-west zone of the All Progressives Congress, in this interview, spoke on the current reforms in the oil industry and corruption
A major plank of President Muhammadu Buhari’s election campaign was to tackle corruption head-on. How far would you say he has fared on this?
Basically, what had been wrong with the entire system was that there was no honest leadership. Thankfully, the president is now providing that. People talk about his body language. The Buhari body language is making the headship of the anti-graft agencies to work. The heads of these agencies have not changed. The personnel have not changed. But suddenly, they have a leader who walks his talk. When he says, “I want corruption stamped out,” he doesn’t only mean every word of it by leading by example, he is also giving the required leadership in every aspect. So, the heads of the anti-corruption agencies can’t but be up and doing.
The issue of a ‘selective’ war on corruption, as some people allege, worries me. It worries me that the leadership of the PDP, a party that I once belonged to, will come out to accuse the president of witch-hunting its members. Corruption has no party. They should appreciate the fact that the corruption we are fighting is partyless, religionless, and stateless. It is in the interest of every Nigerian. The kind of figures that we hear that had been stolen worries me. It should worry any right-thinking Nigerian. Yet, they are making a case for it. What they are saying and the approach they are using will help their party in any way. If they have evidence against anybody in the All Progressives Congress or any Nigerian, they should produce it. All hands must be on deck to fight corruption.
I’m disappointed that what they are saying about the fight against corruption is that it is only their members who are being targeted. For goodness sake, where is this country going to with leaders like that?
After 100 days, how would you rate the President Muhammadu Buhari administration?
The president came with three campaign promises. One of them is to fight insurgency to a standstill. How far has he gone on that? We are seeing an end to it, aren’t we? He also said he would battle corruption. If there is no peace and we allow corruption to grow, the next phase of his promise will never take place. Corruption is making our people very poor. Lack of peace is making our people very poor. So, he is fighting these two things head-on. It is the resultant effects of these two battles that will bring about the required job creation and poverty alleviation. As we speak, it is because of that fight that the electricity situation has improved. I heard from the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power that we have about 6,000 megawatts now. There was a time in Nigeria that it came down to 50 megawatts.
The PDP is saying that the government is not working. But now, our refineries are producing. The NNPC and its subsidiaries now have dynamic leaders. The appointment of the new Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, is putting a square peg in a square hole. His team in Port Harcourt, led by one Dr Fred Audu, made the refinery to start working. The bill given to government to make the refinery work was $297 million, and there was even no guarantee it would work. But the Dr Adu team was sent to Rivers State to put the refinery back on stream. The team did, the refinery is now producing and government spent less than $10 million. Can you see the huge savings? It’s just that when the Buhari regime came, it removed the cog in the wheel of progress. Our engineers are good. They are all Nigerian engineers. No white man is there. I also heard that they also used local Nigerian companies to put that place in order. We could have paid $297m without any guarantee.
Kachikwu visited there, and I learnt he extracted a strong guarantee from the engineers to ensure they make the refinery work. When he went to Warri, I also heard he told them the refinery must work because they are engineers. He challenged them. The Kaduna refinery is already on stream. That is why we are getting petroleum products now.
And yet the PDP says this man has not worked. Haba! What else do we need? Nigeria is working. Buhari has succeeded. Criticisms must be constructive. Nigerians are not blind. They live in Nigeria and they see what is going on.
So why is it possible for the refineries to be working within a few months into the Buhari administration?
It is because when Buhari came, he removed them. When he removed the NNPC management and brought Kachikwu, it afforded these people the opportunity to work. They know how to work. They are engineers. They are scientists. But the kind of system at the top stopped them from performing positively. They would rather import the oil. Even the oil that they were importing was not, I understand, the quality that we require in Nigeria. Our engineers have to still work on it.
Earlier, you said there has been an increase in the megawatts of electricity being generated. Is this not a product of the current rainy season as is being argued by some people?
I saw the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Power, Dr Godknows Igali, on television saying that it’s a miracle. Again, because of Buhari’s body language, the corruption in the power sector is easing away. That is what has happened.
Yet, Buhari hasn’t come out full blast. We are just seeing a gradual take-off. Why is the take-off gradual? It is gradual because the past regime did not cooperate with the Transition Committee put in place. What Buhari is doing is what the Transition Committee should have done. Very soon, when the Ministers come in place, we will see Buhari in full throttle. We will, for example, see the jobs Stella Oduah claimed she did on airport remodelling investigated properly. I just came in from a trip. Our airports are in a shambles. No rehabilitation was done in our airports.
Buhari is only three months old in a four-year tenure and things are happening like this. I’m sure that when we have the Minister of Power, the issue of estimated billing will be addressed. I also note that all agencies of government are now working. I hear that the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) is fighting on our behalf. The problem that they had has been removed. Bad government has gone.
*Muideen Olaniyi – Daily Trust