IDEAS Radio 25 January 2019

 

Aghogho Oboh: All right, welcome to Countdown 2019.  It’s a quarter past four on 99.3 Nigeria Info, we’re discussing all the big and significant issues on the road to the elections and we are now in the elections month.  Crucial general elections month. And in this, the IDEAS section with Ayo Obe. You can follow the programme on Twitter @Countdown2019NG and @RotimiSankore, @ideasradiong, @NigeriaInfoFM.  You can also tweet at us on all of these different handles if you’ve got questions and comments you’re open to do that also too, to send in your comments. You can send in your questions also to our WhatsApp number which is 08095975805.  

 

On the IDEAS segment it is the Transparency International Corruption Perception for 2018, the Index, we’re going to be looking at in the segment.  We can do much more, is what, well basically, the spirit of that report is. So welcome to Countdown 2019 and welcome Ayo Obe.

 

AO: Hi, hi Aghogho and thank you for holding on for us, the traffic in Lagos is ‘tie-wrapper’ today.

 

So, yes, I think, I hope I’m going to be interrogated by my co-presenter on this matter, because the … you know, when the Corruption Perceptions Index first came out, it was presented as: Oh, there’s finally some good news!  Nigeria has moved up in the rankings. And then a second look said: Well we moved up in the rankings but that we haven’t actually improved our performance, because we scored exactly the same 27 points on the index, or in the rankings that we had scored last year and in fact, in 2017 sorry, in the previous year’s CPI, and I think that this, you know, obviously for a government which came to power talking about fighting corruption as a key strategy, it’s always been disappointing and they’ve always wanted to be able to say, we’ve done something about it.  But, I think that it comes against the background of the situation with regard to alleged corruption in so many places and what we see as suddenly an attempt by the government to, maybe, to up its, its ratings.

 

Rotimi Sankore: The really interesting thing though, is that the global focus of the report this year is: How Corruption Undermines Democracy.

 

AO: Yeah.

 

RS: And that’s what is really relevant for the IDEAS segment.  Because we’ve looked at it on the station earlier this week, but that was just talking about the report as a whole, what the report says, why it says so.  But it’s really important to undermine … to underline that the global theme being: How Corruption is Undermining Democracy, that in Nigeria, that makes it a really big deal, because as you’ve underlined in the introduction, you’ve had supporters of the government saying: Ah, Nigeria has moved up four places!  But if we’re exactly at the same, we have exactly the same marks that we had last year, so that means really, that the fight against corruption has not made much progress. And if we remember that last year’s report, when it came out, we had government people saying: No, Transparency International, it can’t be right, it can’t be right!  The same people now are saying that we’ve made progress.

 

AO: Well I think that, you see, the problem is that I think it’s always important to remember that the ratings itself is a perceptions index, and it’s done by people outside.  So to an extent it depends on the way that you sell yourself, and we all know that our President is famous for agreeing that we are fantastically corrupt.

 

RS: Well he said so himself.

 

AO:  Yes, so I think that in a way, the Index is important and it’s useful.  But I think that just as when a government decides to wear it as a laurel, and then the next day to say that it’s – you know – flowers made of ash, then it’s a problem, because it really needs to focus in on itself.  And I found it particularly interesting actually, in the context of the response that was given by the Presidency to the comments made by some foreign missions, the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union, on the saga regarding the Chief Justice of Nigeria.  And they were saying: Look, you keep on, maybe you want to have us there as a country that you can always point to and make fun of and say that we’re fantastically corrupt. Because of course, we have to also agree that some of these countries are not doing well on the Corruption Perceptions Index either.  And this is why, I think it’s always, it can be a little bit dangerous to just say we’ve gone up or we’ve gone down. The issue is: Have we done better? And, you know, because if everybody is really fighting corruption and doing better you could be at position 180 with a score of 50 or 60. So it’s always important that you have to look at the score.  Except in the context of saying that that if the global trend is towards an increase in corruption, then to hold your ground could be seen in some little way as something to say that at least we held the ground. But we all can see that the government’s one of, the second part of the government’s strategy in regard to corruption, or rather, to … in regard to finger pointing about corruption, is the way that they are emphasizing that: We’ve done more with less.  In other words, it’s like a sort of saying that the corruption is not stealing everything that should to go to the Nigerian people, and this is where its intersection with democracy I think, comes in.

 

RS: The question of resources in elections is really key to the discussion, because it’s sadly, almost accepted that if a political party has not been in office before, then they don’t have the resources to campaign, and therefore, the people who have been in office and are visible and are using state resources, are the only viable party or candidate.  It’s almost like people are …

 

AO: But you see, that Rotimi, is something that we as voters are internalising.  I mean, we had, I think just last week we had a candidate, Fela Durotoye, who was emphasising how they had tried to take a very stern and uncompromising approach to the issue of trying to raise their own funds, and so on.  We saw candidates like Banky W here, who were also in the studio, and he again talked about people volunteering their services. But it is one thing to have that approach as a cerebral commitment, and then it is another thing when you are face to face with the voters.  And the issue is the extent to which you yourself believe it, particularly in the face of those who are using the state resources, who are using … whether it’s state resources they got from being in office today, or state resources that they were able to lay their hands on through previous contacts, it still means that the whole concept of democracy is something that we as voters have to imbibe.  It’s not something that we can just fully farm out blame-wise to the politicians. We have to take a lot of responsibility for ourselves. And I think that I would also say, if you look at foreign countries, I mean, we’ve been seeing the way that countries like the United States, the President Trump has raised huge amounts of money for his campaign, because billionaires don’t want anybody coming in and talking about tax raises and reminding them that in the 50s and 60s and 70s, tax rates were very high and so was growth, and inequality was less.  So they also have their own ways. In our own country we need to understand that we have a responsibility.

 

RS: In terms of recommendations from the report, Transparency makes it clear that one of the issues that has not been properly dealt with is the origin of huge assets owned by politicians, military and non-military personnel, and public figures, that the origin of these resources has in most cases not been diligently explained …

 

AO: Well, the reason …

 

RS: … to Nigerians and that unless that is resolved, that the corruption perception is never going to improve.

 

AO: Well, I think that the … if we leave it to Transparency to define what we will see as corruption, we will be in problem.  The reason I say that is because the corruption and the state capture – if I can put it like that – didn’t start when we returned to  democracy. We all remember Ministers of this and that who had golf courses in different parts of the …

 

RS: Yes, well that’s why they are saying military and non-military

 

AO: Oh no, I understand.  But the point is, that as with so many things in Nigeria, when account is being called, it becomes either an ethnic issue, a religious issue, and we obfuscate.  So this is a problem that we are always going to face, if we are … if we’re not going to, if we’re going to, if we as voters are going to continue following those who have acquired such wealth particularly when, as it is said, it is  unexplained. And you know, there’s a lot of obfuscation …

 

RS: Well, may I just add quickly that, the owners have not explained or …

 

AO: But we are not asking really!  Except in a: Well, I’m not going to look at my own but I want you to explain yours.

 

RS: But in terms of public perception, when you hear people on the street, point at a huge mansion and say: “Ah!  Na former Governor o!” They understand! That, those sentences imply that they understand that that person …

 

AO: But you see the problem is Rotimi, is not just that they understand, there’s also a degree of acceptance …

 

RS: Ok, understand and accept.

 

AO: And this is what we have to change.  In the end, if we’re not able to change the thinking of the voters, then we won’t make the kind of progress that we need to make.  You know, I think …

 

RS: Who’s responsibility will that be?

 

AO: No, I don’t think you can farm it out.  Everybody has to light their own candle, but of course, when a government sets up the machinery that encourages or conceals this, particularly …  I have to say that I’m a little bit of a believer in a bit of hypocrisy in public life, because some of this corruption is a little bit too ‘In your face’, and therefore, it has the effect of normalising the corruption.  And really, a lot of this campaign that we’ve seen between the two major parties, is: Their own is more corrupt; Their own is a more democratic type of corruption; Their own is a more generous ‘everybody should chop’ type of corruption, this one is a secretive type  and this is the level of discourse. And unfortunately …

 

RS: That there’s double standards …

 

AO: I have always felt that hypocrisy or double standards …  everybody will, everybody has double standards, so we shouldn’t allow that to deter us from making the points that need to be made.  But it really, as I say, it depends on what we as voters will say; because we all say things about what we want: you remember when you had the Countdown poll on Twitter, and people were saying: Oh, that they want competence , that’s the most important thing for them …

 

RS: … as against ethnicity and religion.

 

AO: they will say it, but when push comes to shove, they say: Anyway…  They will see the competence of their own person through the lens of the ethnicity or the religion.  So I think that we should always use tools like the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index , even though it’s based on the perceptions of foreigners, mostly foreigners anyway, although the African Development Bank is there…

 

RS: Well, you know in terms of organisations, because, so there’s the Africa …

 

AO: Development Bank, yes

 

RS: … Development Bank yes, there’s the Bertelsmann Foundation Transformation Index, Economist Intelligence Unit, PRS International Country Risk Guide,

World Bank Corruption Perception Assessment, World Economic Forum Opinion Survey, World Justice Project Rule of Law, and the varieties of democracy projects.  So these eight sources …

 

AO: Yeah, I know.  I totally … What I’m saying is that it’s not just, it’s not just the opinions of Nigerians, because quite frankly if Nigerians had to give their perceptions of corruption, we would be … we  wouldn’t feature …

 

RS: Well, as Rafsanjani said, that you don’t need Transparency International to tell Nigerians that there’s corruption in Nigeria …

 

AO: But, but

 

RS: … it’s just to rank, globally.

 

AO: I agree, but I think it’s also important that Nigerians too are not allowed to just say …  because when we keep on with this narrative of “We’re all corrupt, All judges are corrupt, all politicians are corrupt, everybody who gets into office must line their pockets and indulge in a little bit and the only thing that we don’t see is one family capturing the whole state, but that it’s spread around.  Once we get into that form of narrative, then we normalise it. And what I think, the last thing I would say is that if this saga of the Chief Justice has told us anything, it is that maybe that everybody is not ready to normalise corruption and say … it’s not to say whether somebody is … where guilt or innocence lies, but just that people are ready to stand up and say that we need to get a grip on this kind of thing.

 

RS: Ok, thank you.  If I may just end on one additional note: the Ganduje matter.  The APC officials put out an interesting statement saying that the reason why the President is standing with Ganduje is that he hasn’t been investigated and found to be corrupt …

 

AO: No, no, no,  no, but I’m sorry Rotimi, we all know that that cannot stand.  Because the issue is not whether he has been found to be corrupt.  The fact is, the issue is: Has any investigation even started? Because previous litigation has confirmed that it is possible to investigate a Governor.

 

RS: Investigate even if the person has immunity?

 

AO: Even, yes, the person has immunity, but the immunity is while in office.  And if we don’t, if there’s no investigation until after they’re out of office, then a), the incentive goes, unless  it happens that an opposing party gets into control of the agencies which do the investigation. But secondly, that you run the risk of losing witnesses and so on and so forth. I mean, we all saw the case,  it’s not a political case, a rape accused and suddenly all the witnesses died or were killed. And, so we can’t, the investigation needs to start off, and once that investigation starts, then it cannot lie in the mouth of the President who will be receiving reports of that investigation, to say: I see nothing.  I mean, it really won’t wash and certainly with the Nigerian people, I’m afraid.

 

RS: Ok, alright.  Thank you very much Ayo Obe.

 

AgO: Alright.

 

RS: So join us again on the IDEAS segment next Friday.

 

AO: And please also check us out on our website at www.ideasradio.ng and follow us  on Twitter @ideasradiong.

 

RS: Ok, thank you.

IDEAS Radio 25 January 2019

Aghogho Oboh: All right, welcome to Countdown 2019.  It’s a quarter past four on 99.3 Nigeria Info, we’re discussing all the big and significant issues on the road to the elections and we are now in the elections month.  Crucial general elections month. And in this, the IDEAS section with Ayo Obe. You can follow the programme on Twitter @Countdown2019NG and @RotimiSankore, @ideasradiong, @NigeriaInfoFM.  You can also tweet at us on all of these different handles if you’ve got questions and comments you’re open to do that also too, to send in your comments. You can send in your questions also to our WhatsApp number which is 08095975805.  

On the IDEAS segment it is the Transparency International Corruption Perception for 2018, the Index, we’re going to be looking at in the segment.  We can do much more, is what, well basically, the spirit of that report is. So welcome to Countdown 2019 and welcome Ayo Obe.

AO: Hi, hi Aghogho and thank you for holding on for us, the traffic in Lagos is ‘tie-wrapper’ today.

So, yes, I think, I hope I’m going to be interrogated by my co-presenter on this matter, because the … you know, when the Corruption Perceptions Index first came out, it was presented as: Oh, there’s finally some good news!  Nigeria has moved up in the rankings. And then a second look said: Well we moved up in the rankings but that we haven’t actually improved our performance, because we scored exactly the same 27 points on the index, or in the rankings that we had scored last year and in fact, in 2017 sorry, in the previous year’s CPI, and I think that this, you know, obviously for a government which came to power talking about fighting corruption as a key strategy, it’s always been disappointing and they’ve always wanted to be able to say, we’ve done something about it.  But, I think that it comes against the background of the situation with regard to alleged corruption in so many places and what we see as suddenly an attempt by the government to, maybe, to up its, its ratings.

Rotimi Sankore: The really interesting thing though, is that the global focus of the report this year is: How Corruption Undermines Democracy.

AO: Yeah.

RS: And that’s what is really relevant for the IDEAS segment.  Because we’ve looked at it on the station earlier this week, but that was just talking about the report as a whole, what the report says, why it says so.  But it’s really important to undermine … to underline that the global theme being: How Corruption is Undermining Democracy, that in Nigeria, that makes it a really big deal, because as you’ve underlined in the introduction, you’ve had supporters of the government saying: Ah, Nigeria has moved up four places!  But if we’re exactly at the same, we have exactly the same marks that we had last year, so that means really, that the fight against corruption has not made much progress. And if we remember that last year’s report, when it came out, we had government people saying: No, Transparency International, it can’t be right, it can’t be right!  The same people now are saying that we’ve made progress.

AO: Well I think that, you see, the problem is that I think it’s always important to remember that the ratings itself is a perceptions index, and it’s done by people outside.  So to an extent it depends on the way that you sell yourself, and we all know that our President is famous for agreeing that we are fantastically corrupt.

RS: Well he said so himself.

AO:  Yes, so I think that in a way, the Index is important and it’s useful.  But I think that just as when a government decides to wear it as a laurel, and then the next day to say that it’s – you know – flowers made of ash, then it’s a problem, because it really needs to focus in on itself.  And I found it particularly interesting actually, in the context of the response that was given by the Presidency to the comments made by some foreign missions, the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union, on the saga regarding the Chief Justice of Nigeria.  And they were saying: Look, you keep on, maybe you want to have us there as a country that you can always point to and make fun of and say that we’re fantastically corrupt. Because of course, we have to also agree that some of these countries are not doing well on the Corruption Perceptions Index either.  And this is why, I think it’s always, it can be a little bit dangerous to just say we’ve gone up or we’ve gone down. The issue is: Have we done better? And, you know, because if everybody is really fighting corruption and doing better you could be at position 180 with a score of 50 or 60. So it’s always important that you have to look at the score.  Except in the context of saying that that if the global trend is towards an increase in corruption, then to hold your ground could be seen in some little way as something to say that at least we held the ground. But we all can see that the government’s one of, the second part of the government’s strategy in regard to corruption, or rather, to … in regard to finger pointing about corruption, is the way that they are emphasizing that: We’ve done more with less.  In other words, it’s like a sort of saying that the corruption is not stealing everything that should to go to the Nigerian people, and this is where its intersection with democracy I think, comes in.

RS: The question of resources in elections is really key to the discussion, because it’s sadly, almost accepted that if a political party has not been in office before, then they don’t have the resources to campaign, and therefore, the people who have been in office and are visible and are using state resources, are the only viable party or candidate.  It’s almost like people are …

AO: But you see, that Rotimi, is something that we as voters are internalising.  I mean, we had, I think just last week we had a candidate, Fela Durotoye, who was emphasising how they had tried to take a very stern and uncompromising approach to the issue of trying to raise their own funds, and so on.  We saw candidates like Banky W here, who were also in the studio, and he again talked about people volunteering their services. But it is one thing to have that approach as a cerebral commitment, and then it is another thing when you are face to face with the voters.  And the issue is the extent to which you yourself believe it, particularly in the face of those who are using the state resources, who are using … whether it’s state resources they got from being in office today, or state resources that they were able to lay their hands on through previous contacts, it still means that the whole concept of democracy is something that we as voters have to imbibe.  It’s not something that we can just fully farm out blame-wise to the politicians. We have to take a lot of responsibility for ourselves. And I think that I would also say, if you look at foreign countries, I mean, we’ve been seeing the way that countries like the United States, the President Trump has raised huge amounts of money for his campaign, because billionaires don’t want anybody coming in and talking about tax raises and reminding them that in the 50s and 60s and 70s, tax rates were very high and so was growth, and inequality was less.  So they also have their own ways. In our own country we need to understand that we have a responsibility.

RS: In terms of recommendations from the report, Transparency makes it clear that one of the issues that has not been properly dealt with is the origin of huge assets owned by politicians, military and non-military personnel, and public figures, that the origin of these resources has in most cases not been diligently explained …

AO: Well, the reason …

RS: … to Nigerians and that unless that is resolved, that the corruption perception is never going to improve.

AO: Well, I think that the … if we leave it to Transparency to define what we will see as corruption, we will be in problem.  The reason I say that is because the corruption and the state capture – if I can put it like that – didn’t start when we returned to  democracy. We all remember Ministers of this and that who had golf courses in different parts of the …

RS: Yes, well that’s why they are saying military and non-military

AO: Oh no, I understand.  But the point is, that as with so many things in Nigeria, when account is being called, it becomes either an ethnic issue, a religious issue, and we obfuscate.  So this is a problem that we are always going to face, if we are … if we’re not going to, if we’re going to, if we as voters are going to continue following those who have acquired such wealth particularly when, as it is said, it is  unexplained. And you know, there’s a lot of obfuscation …

RS: Well, may I just add quickly that, the owners have not explained or …

AO: But we are not asking really!  Except in a: Well, I’m not going to look at my own but I want you to explain yours.

RS: But in terms of public perception, when you hear people on the street, point at a huge mansion and say: “Ah!  Na former Governor o!” They understand! That, those sentences imply that they understand that that person …

AO: But you see the problem is Rotimi, is not just that they understand, there’s also a degree of acceptance …

RS: Ok, understand and accept.

AO: And this is what we have to change.  In the end, if we’re not able to change the thinking of the voters, then we won’t make the kind of progress that we need to make.  You know, I think …

RS: Who’s responsibility will that be?

AO: No, I don’t think you can farm it out.  Everybody has to light their own candle, but of course, when a government sets up the machinery that encourages or conceals this, particularly …  I have to say that I’m a little bit of a believer in a bit of hypocrisy in public life, because some of this corruption is a little bit too ‘In your face’, and therefore, it has the effect of normalising the corruption.  And really, a lot of this campaign that we’ve seen between the two major parties, is: Their own is more corrupt; Their own is a more democratic type of corruption; Their own is a more generous ‘everybody should chop’ type of corruption, this one is a secretive type  and this is the level of discourse. And unfortunately …

RS: That there’s double standards …

AO: I have always felt that hypocrisy or double standards …  everybody will, everybody has double standards, so we shouldn’t allow that to deter us from making the points that need to be made.  But it really, as I say, it depends on what we as voters will say; because we all say things about what we want: you remember when you had the Countdown poll on Twitter, and people were saying: Oh, that they want competence , that’s the most important thing for them …

RS: … as against ethnicity and religion.

AO: they will say it, but when push comes to shove, they say: Anyway…  They will see the competence of their own person through the lens of the ethnicity or the religion.  So I think that we should always use tools like the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index , even though it’s based on the perceptions of foreigners, mostly foreigners anyway, although the African Development Bank is there…

RS: Well, you know in terms of organisations, because, so there’s the Africa …

AO: Development Bank, yes

RS: … Development Bank yes, there’s the Bertelsmann Foundation Transformation Index, Economist Intelligence Unit, PRS International Country Risk Guide,

World Bank Corruption Perception Assessment, World Economic Forum Opinion Survey, World Justice Project Rule of Law, and the varieties of democracy projects.  So these eight sources …

AO: Yeah, I know.  I totally … What I’m saying is that it’s not just, it’s not just the opinions of Nigerians, because quite frankly if Nigerians had to give their perceptions of corruption, we would be … we  wouldn’t feature …

RS: Well, as Rafsanjani said, that you don’t need Transparency International to tell Nigerians that there’s corruption in Nigeria …

AO: But, but

RS: … it’s just to rank, globally.

AO: I agree, but I think it’s also important that Nigerians too are not allowed to just say …  because when we keep on with this narrative of “We’re all corrupt, All judges are corrupt, all politicians are corrupt, everybody who gets into office must line their pockets and indulge in a little bit and the only thing that we don’t see is one family capturing the whole state, but that it’s spread around.  Once we get into that form of narrative, then we normalise it. And what I think, the last thing I would say is that if this saga of the Chief Justice has told us anything, it is that maybe that everybody is not ready to normalise corruption and say … it’s not to say whether somebody is … where guilt or innocence lies, but just that people are ready to stand up and say that we need to get a grip on this kind of thing.

RS: Ok, thank you.  If I may just end on one additional note: the Ganduje matter.  The APC officials put out an interesting statement saying that the reason why the President is standing with Ganduje is that he hasn’t been investigated and found to be corrupt …

AO: No, no, no,  no, but I’m sorry Rotimi, we all know that that cannot stand.  Because the issue is not whether he has been found to be corrupt.  The fact is, the issue is: Has any investigation even started? Because previous litigation has confirmed that it is possible to investigate a Governor.

RS: Investigate even if the person has immunity?

AO: Even, yes, the person has immunity, but the immunity is while in office.  And if we don’t, if there’s no investigation until after they’re out of office, then a), the incentive goes, unless  it happens that an opposing party gets into control of the agencies which do the investigation. But secondly, that you run the risk of losing witnesses and so on and so forth. I mean, we all saw the case,  it’s not a political case, a rape accused and suddenly all the witnesses died or were killed. And, so we can’t, the investigation needs to start off, and once that investigation starts, then it cannot lie in the mouth of the President who will be receiving reports of that investigation, to say: I see nothing.  I mean, it really won’t wash and certainly with the Nigerian people, I’m afraid.

RS: Ok, alright.  Thank you very much Ayo Obe.

AgO: Alright.

RS: So join us again on the IDEAS segment next Friday.

AO: And please also check us out on our website at www.ideasradio.ng and follow us  on Twitter @ideasradiong.

RS: Ok, thank you.