The federal government has not taken a decision yet on the 2015 national conference report because it has been too busy with more vital areas of governance to care about it, the secretary to the government of the federation, Babachir Lawal, has said. He said the current government viewed the national conference initiated by its predecessor as “a job for the boys” and so does not intend to spend its time reading the report.
Lawal also said that the reason anti-corruption agencies have been investigating more members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) than members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is because the PDP was in power for 16 years and so had access to public funds which the opposition did not have.
“They probably produced a document that is good and commendable but I mean, this government is too busy with very more vital areas of governance, and we are not intending to spend our time reading reports. The exercise of governance is not about reading reports,” he said in a wide ranging interview over the weekend. “The reports are here, so many volumes that for example, it would take me like seven days to go through. Economy needs attention I wonder what happens to my work while I am reading it.”
He denied being behind the legal challenges which the national assembly leadership is currently facing, saying his office is “the punching bag of everybody” because it is hard to attack the integrity of the president. He accused the opposition of attacking those around the president who are not well known, like the chief of staff, petroleum minister, CBN governor and himself.
“I do not understand the psychology of, when you are accused of something, instead of defending yourself, you waste your time hunting for who could have been the cause of your travails. If they remove Ekweremadu as the Deputy Senate President, how does that personally benefit us?” Lawal said.
He however pointed out that he was not happy about Ekweremadu’s election as deputy senate president because before becoming SGF, he was the national vice chairman of the APC and felt the party should produce the occupant of the number two seat in the senate. He conceded that the senators had a constitutional right to create the “aberration” of a PDP man becoming deputy senate president. “So, whoever tells you that I am responsible for the travails of Sen. Ike Ekweremadu is burying his head in the sand rather than running,” he said.
On why APC members are not being investigated and prosecuted, Lawal pointed out that PDP was in power for so long, “enjoying the booty in a flagrant manner.” As members of the opposition at the time, he said APC members were not given contracts and had no access to government money.
“Throughout the last tenure of the Goodluck Jonathan campaign, their goodwill among Nigerians was on the decline and they were spending, and it got to a stage that they did not care about following the due process anymore because they thought they were in power and they thought they could buy their way through and remain in perpetuity. So, they became even careless about the manner they were taking the money,” he said.
“Remember Nigeria even borrowed $100million from the international market to fund the war on Boko Haram and they simply shared it. APC did not go to borrow anywhere. We were not sharing oil wells. We had no access to NNPC funds. So, if these agencies were converted into agencies for looting and pilfering, it is obvious that even if we had corrupt men in the APC, they did not have the opportunity to steal, and that is assuming we had. I cannot, in all honesty, say that all of us in APC are saints, but the truth is, we did not have access to funds to steal in the first place, and so we did not have opportunity also to reject the stealing. So, let them roast in their stew. Let them carry their cross. They can make all the noises and try to deflate APC, but our hands are clean by providence.
“Look, let us face it. If they arrest you, why don’t you say, ‘I shared the money with so and so persons’ and then let him turn out to be in APC? Those that they are arresting, it is from the interrogation that the information burst out. Let them leave us alone. This is just the beginning. They will return our money by the time we finish digging their soak-aways and bringing down their (overhead) tanks; we would recover our money,” he said.