Subsidy probe justifies Jonathan’s claim – Seigha
On April 26, 2012 · In Politics
BY DAPO AKINREFON

MR Manager Seigha is the chairman of Niger Delta Nationalities Forum in Lagos State. In this interview, he argues that the outcome of the subsidy probe by the House of Representatives has justified President Goodluck Jonathan’s claim that subsidy exists. Though, he welcomed the convening of a National Conference, he opines that the dialogue may not address the issue of Boko Haram. Excerpts:

WHAT is your reaction to the threat by the Boko Haram Islamic sect to bring down the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan within three months?
For some of us, we see it as a good signal.

Why do you say so?
It is a good signal in the sense that an American agency has predicted that Nigeria might break up by 2015 and for us, if Nigeria breaks up, it is for the better especially for the South South people. We think that the prediction of the USA is about come to fore and if God is going to use Boko Haram to achieve that, we do not have any problem.

We the South South people are not scared if President Jonathan is removed from office, then our existence has come to an end. We do not see Nigeria from that perspective. But if some people think that the presidency is their birthright, then let God use Boko Haram to break up Nigeria, but we will continue to develop at our own pace because we have oil which will sustain us.

But don’t you think that the convening of National Conference will address most of the problems especially the Boko Haram menace?

We believe in the convening of a National Conference but not because it will address Boko Haram even though there are clear indications that Boko Haram is a political tool aimed at destabilizing the government of the president. The national conference is to look at Nigeria in a holistic way and find ways at restructuring the nation; but to us, Boko Haram is a small challenge to Nigeria.

Presiednt Jonathan

The convening of a national conference is to look like Nigeria from a nationalities view and finding ways to address the many problems facing the country and see if we are able to live together as a country. I think the national conference will specifically address these areas and not boko haram.

A section of the country hold the view that the reason there is resumed hostilities and bombing of oil installations in the Niger Delta, is because of 2015. Do you support this view?

The issue of bombing of oil installations in the Niger Delta area is a call to challenge the boko haram, I do not think it is because President Jonathan is seeking to contest in 2015. That northerners believe that the presidency is their right, is a political issue because the constitution allows every citizen, from all regions, to contest for political office.

What is your take on the Steve Orosanye recommendation that some Federal government agencies should be scrapped to cut government spending, while some should be unbundled?

President Jonathan should be very careful. I say this because it is one thing to be a good man, it is another thing to be able to implement a report. Orosanye, who gave the recommendation is a technocrat who is respected. That his recommendation should be taken, is a dangerous step to take. The president should be careful before implementing the recommendation.

For me, it is a very dangerous recommendation; and why I say so is that, the president is looking for money to implement some of his programmes. Jonathan and his economic team need to look at other areas that can bring in more money from other sectors. There are a lot of complications that will come with that report. We have the agriculture and manufacturing sectors which can fetch sufficient revenue for the country.

If all the sectors are well developed, we do not need to cry that there is no money. I think it is intellectual laziness on the part of our economist who are focusing on getting revenue only from the oil sector. For me, he (Jonathan) should throw away the Orosanye recommendation because if the president goes ahead with the recommendation, many people will be out of jobs. The civil service is not functioning not because of the proliferation of agencies, it is because there are no standards in the civil service.

If he (Jonathan) wants to succeed, he should give a benchmark to managers of these agencies in the service and one of the reason(s) he can tackle the Orosanye recommendation is for him to appoint fresh hands to run the agencies. He should also give them a deadline. If they fail to perform, then, they should be fired. The Orosanye recommendation is a dangerous signal, which should be treated with caution.

The House of representatives panel has submitted its report recommending sanctions to those involved in the subsidy regime. Are you satisfied with the report?

As far as I am concerned, the panel did a good job by way of having a public scrutiny of those involved in fuel subsidy corruption saga. But in terms of what they have churned out, I am not satisfied with their recommendation. Nigerians were interested in knowing how much it takes to refine a litre of PMS in Nigeria through our refineries, the recommendation did not show that.

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