Blame Nigeria’s woes on political class, says Abacha’s Finance Minister

Blame Nigeria’s woes on political class, says Abacha’s Finance Minister

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Nigeria’s current economic woes have been blamed on the greedy and selfish attitudes of the country’s political class whose only mission in politics is to satisfy their personal interests.

Former Minister of State for Finance under the late Gen. Sani Abacha regime, and member of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) for over 10 years, Alhaji Abu Gidaddo, stated this is an exclusive interview with Daily Times in Katsina, weekend.

Alhaji Gidado lamented that Nigeria’s peers amongst the oil producing nations have overtaken her and have not only prudently managed their resources, but have also effectively diversified their economy to the betterment of their citizens.

He cited countries like Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Angola, noting that while these countries have been able to use their resources effectively, the Nigerian political class has only succeeded in wasting the nation’s resources.

“I visited Saudi Arabia in the 70s and they were far behind us, but today, they are far ahead of us. Angola is also overtaking us,” he noted.

Alhaji Gidado also berated the legislature which he accused of ‘selling its birth right’ to act as ‘watchdog’ of the nation’s resources by enforcing the Appropriation laws and checkmating the executive.

Gidado said the involvement of the lawmakers in ‘Constituency projects’ execution compromised their position, making it impossible for them to properly monitor budget execution.”

“The political class is only concerned with their own selfish interest. Take for instance the case of the budget; look at the time it takes them to pass it. Look at the scandals that are now coming out from the budget passage. We have developed a new concept called padding, these are as a result of selfishness, greed and lack of patriotism by the political class,” he said.

He also made a case for a strong anti-graft body that must be independent of control by the political class to enable it enforce financial regulations and fiscal policies of the federal government.

Gidado, who noted that framers of the 1999 Constitution had created near perfect modalities for checking corruption in government spending, however, lamented that the legislature had compromised its rights to checkmate the executive with the introduction of Constituency Projects into the budgeting process.

“The Executive is empowered by the Constitution to spend the money, according to the Appropriation Law; a deviation from that law is an impeachable offence. Therefore, the arm that should be subject to proper and regular scrutiny is really the Presidency, or if you like, the Executive; so that they do not squander public funds. And the body saddled with that responsibility is the National Assembly. But from the moment they began agitation for constituency projects, they lost that power of control. They took the function of the Executive to themselves.”

“As you can see, what the Federal Executive Council (FEC) presents to the National Assembly as budget is based on what has been properly thought out and what the nation can implement, but what comes out in most cases becomes difficult to implement because of vested interests by members of the National Assembly. This is also applicable to States House of Assembly,” he said.

Alhaji Gidado posited that making that National Assembly part-time will serve as solution to the current high cost of running what he described as “Nigeria’s expensive presidential system.”

“This will certainly cut down on cost of administration. If we have part-time, this will only allow for the payment of allowances.”

He also calls for strengthening of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for better monitoring of federal government finances and effective implementation of government projects.

“You never can tell what politicians can do when you leave them unchecked with money, but when you allow for proper monitoring of government resources, that will help to reduce the extent to which they can misuse government funds. This is because you can have part-time lawmakers, who can still frustrate the arrangement by coming up with so many requests for personal gains,” he concluded.

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