Monday, November 12, 2012

Ribadu’s report drama, ploy by Presidency to cover oil sector rot – Malami, SAN

By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North
ABUJA—The open disagreement over the report of the Nuhu Ribadu-led committee, which investigated the rot in the Nigerian oil industry, has been described as a premeditated action by the Presidency to rubbish the outcome and prevent the administration from accepting and implementing the recommendations.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Abubakar Malami, who made the claim in an exclusive interview with Vanguard yesterday, pointed out that the drama over the manner in which the report was written and presented to the government was masterminded by the same government that set it up.
“The purpose of what the government did was simply to divert Nigerians’ attention from the monumental looting by certain well placed individuals and top government agencies so as have justification for not implementing it.
“These elements are well connected and the government does not appear to be in a hurry to touch them given the weight of the evidence in both the Ribadu report and the Subsidy panel against them.
The legal practitioner said it was wrong for the Presidency to set up a committee to probe the infractions in the oil sector only for the same government to openly rubbish the outcome.
According to him, the President should have allowed Ribadu to hand in his report and ask for any other dissenting opinion on the matter, thereafter.
“The drama we saw was so clear that the government had planned to discredit the report turned in by the former EFCC chairman and it does not help this country in any way.
Turning to the political turf, Malami, who is the National Legal Adviser of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, noted that Nigerians should de-emphasise the issue of region and religion in the choice of the next President and focus on the capacity of the person to serve the nation.
According to him, the choice of the next president should be based strictly on the ability of the person to take the country to the next level, the preparedness of the person to take appropriate measures to tackle rising insecurity in the land and check mounting corruption that has eaten deep into the fabric of the nation.
Malami said, “No sectional presidency can salvage this country from its present decay and despondency. What we really need is a man who has the courage and the determination to confront the menace of corruption and insecurity that has stifled the nation’s progress.
The legal practitioner also dismissed as a waste of time and resources the current move to amend the Nigerian Constitution, pointing out that Nigeria’s problem was not caused by the constitution but by the treatment of issues with impunity by both the government and the people.
He said that without a deliberate and sustained effort by the government to tackle corruption and other challenges that have tended to keep the nation down, Nigerian would continue to slip daily even if the constitution was amended daily.
On the type of government that is most suitable for Nigeria given its complexity of religion and culture, Malami suggested that Federalism, which is currently being practiced in the country remains the best but called for serious reformations in the system to serve the people better.
He opined that the cost of governance should be drastically reduced so as to free some funds for the development of the critical areas of the economy and take care of the majority of the citizens who have been cut off from governance and thrown into the abyss of poverty.
“We should continue with Federalism but reduce the cost centres to the barest minimum by making government highly unattractive at all levels. All expenses associated with all tiers of government should be slashed substantially while accountability should be strengthened at all levels.
“We do not really need a full time National Assembly, which has taken a lot of our resources at the moment while the Executive should cut down on several areas of waste and save  the money to improve the welfare of the majority of Nigerians who are languishing in squalour.

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