Monday, 24 August 2015

How Buhari should spend looted funds – Ex-Minister, Momah | Says, Projects should bear “Government’s Stolen Money Projects” on them + Why Senate’s June 9 is a Time Bomb

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One-on-One with General Sam Momah
General Sam Momah (Rtd) an ex-Minister of Science and Technology from 1995 to 1999 has been exceptionally vocal on national issues in the last three years. Momah, a prolific writer and author of several books on technology and economic freedom was more or less a disciple for the CHANGE campaign on whose platform the new government came into power.

Sam Momah as a pioneer Director of Nigerian War College, Abuja who also served as Adjutant General of the Nigerian Army,and then as Commander Train­ing and Doctrine Command of the Nigerian Army plus being a Member of the Provisional Rul­ing Council under two military regimes readily offers his wealth of experience in books that he has written in the last decade.
In a recent online engagement with your Africa’s number 1 Celebrity Encounter blog Asabeafrika, General Sam Momah who is referred to in Nigerian military circle as a Strategist, did his x-ray on the first three months of President Mohammadu Buhari in office and gave his commendations. General Momah equally registered his anger over certain undemocratic activities that have characterized the take off of President Buhari’s government like the legislative coup of June 9 which the General said is against the CHANGE Mantra and the $6 billion dollars loot revelation by the US. Enjoy the excerpts.
General Sam Momah to Asabeafrika 'All funds recovered from looters should be spent on Capital Projects and with the inscription 'Nigeria's stolen funds'
Sir, you were one of the lone voices in the last two years who spoke consistently about a General Buhari in power. You also called for a change of ex President Jonathan’s government in his last two years in office. Today we have President Buhari in power are you fulfilled?
I must say that I am fulfilled because we know the state of our country before Gen. Buhari came on board. Nigeria had been on the brink, the economy was very bad. We were saddled with a debt of $60bn or about that range, our police force was not properly organized, our borders were porous, unemployment was terribly embarrassing and was getting to the magnitude of having over 40m youths unemployed. Also the state of insecurity, the problem of Boko Haram, kidnapping, armed robbery and cyber crime were all getting out of control.

There was also the problem of smuggling of illegal arms across our borders which remained much unguarded. Then of course the worse of it was the vandalization of the oil pipelines and illegal sale of our oil by individuals, the looting of the economy was rampant and we were being told that stealing was not corruption. So, it was inevitable that we had to look for somebody to salvage the nation.
Ogbonnaya Onu is an intelligent and level headed leader that has proven himself to be consistent in the opposition all these years. He is not the type that jumps from one party to another. He is very principled like the president himself. So I believe both being of the same kind, should be able to work together”.
So I feel much fulfilled. Indeed, if not for Gen. Buhari's coming on board, who knows, perhaps Nigeria would have been written off. But we thank God that a miracle happened and he won the election despite the odds. I believe that his coming is a divine ordination and I hope that Nigerians will see his coming, as an opportunity to rebuild this country. I am happy. His coming to lead Nigeria is the dawn of a new era, an era of respectability for the country, an era of exemplary leadership, an era of visionary leadership and an era that Nigerians will aspire to actualize that great nation that we have been waiting for.
The General and the GDA searches peruse his internet facility for a breaking news during an encounter with him at Abuja
But Nigerians expected that General Buhari will hit the ground running when he assumes power, some people have even referred to him as ‘Baba go slow.’ What do you have to say about this?
It is unfortunate that Nigerians are impatient. We had a party in government for 16 years and nobody talked about go slow. Now, someone else is in power for less than 60 days and people are talking about go-slow. It’s not rational. I do not think that it is true that he is 'Baba go slow.' With the magnitude of problems that we have on ground, he is being cautious so that we do not build on a weak foundation. In spite of all the problems emanating, the treasury being depleted and the legislative coup of June 9th, which set a lot of impediment to what APC had in mind, he is still trying to do his best.
In less than two months we have seen that power has improved from less than 2000 megawatts to 4600 megawatts. We see also that our refineries are being repaired for the first time in 16 years, repaired by direct labor using Nigerians, with no scandal of awarding multiple billion Naira contracts for turnaround maintenance. So, we can see that he is a man with a vision and very prudent in spending. Hopefully, we will soon stop the prodigal buying of oil that God gave us free. And on the military front, he is trying to mobilize our neighbors, Chad, Niger, Cameroun, Benin Republic and others. The groundwork has to be done, and he is doing that effectively. Boko Haram has changed tactics from the normal conventional warfare to guerrilla warfare. They do not wear uniform; they go around in clandestine guerrillas mix up with the civilians and commit havoc. For that kind of tactics, there is no border. It means we have to change into counter guerrilla tactics and we will do so in consonance and tandem with our neighbors. In effect, he is trying to mobilize our neighbors. It is not only a Nigerian affair. I hear they have mobilized about 8700 troops which at the end of this month will swing into action.
General Sam Momah to Asabeafrika 'I feel so very sad that in a country where 140 million People are hungry just one person stole $6billion Dollars
On the economy, he is trying to bail out the states without touching our foreign reserves. He is also trying to put life into the local economy by bringing about policies that will checkmate all fraudulent practices. Example of such action is the directive to NNPC to have only one account. Also, to give a boost to local production, forex was banned for 41 items that can be produced locally and recently he directed banks not to receive deposits in foreign currency and this measure resulted in Naira gaining strength by appreciating from N242 to the dollar to N218 today.  These policies are emanating because he is in charge. With his body language alone everybody is sitting up. He has been having diplomatic shuttle. He has been to G7 even before he was sworn in, he has been to the USA, and so in just two months all these have happened and people say 'go slow.' The best is yet to come because these are the seeds; the harvest is bound to be bounteous. Nigerians should be patient because the results will soon start rolling in.
The General with son, Dr. Tobe Momah and Chief Ogbonnaya Onu
With the situation in the National Assembly do you see the president succeeding as far as he would love to do?
I believe that Mr. President is determined to succeed. He is not an accidental leader. He had to plan for his coming in the last 30 years. From 1985 to 2015, he has been thinking how to salvage Nigeria. And we know that from 2003 to 2015 he has been contesting for leadership. He is experienced at this game. So whatever is happening at the National Assembly is a momentary obstacle and I believe that ultimately, with PMB’s tenacity of purpose we will surmount it and move ahead.
The General with his Security Details and NTA's Cyril Stober
Still on the National Assembly, with the groupings, the Saraki group, the supposed PDP group, the core APC group, do you see all coming together to move the nation forward?
Well that is my hope. I hope that someday common sense will prevail because Saraki is APC. I do not see why he should not work in tandem with APC as a party because the party came in for a purpose and we believe that they have to be unanimous for that purpose to crystallize, trying to be an obstacle on an issue that has been agreed upon, will definitely not augur well for those trying to do so. So I believe that somewhere along the line, Saraki and his team should do a rethink and work along with other party members. As a true democrat the president has said that the three arms of government are independent of each other, but ours is an evolving democracy, not like that of US and other developed countries where the principle of separation of power is strictly adhered to. Here we are still learning, and therefore we need that cohesion to enable us surmount major problems. The President in consonance with his party and in this era of change should be interested on who are the leaders in the National Assembly. So whatever happens, they should talk and think like a party and not in factions as is presently the case.
“I am still very much worried. Even more worried than I used to be and that is because of the event that took place on June 9th. It is something that Nigerians should watch with vigilance and speak up against. Somebody surreptitiously got himself elected senate president by less than 60 senators instead of a full floor of 109 senators”.  
The General with his familiy during his 70th birthday and launch of 'Nigeria Beyond Divorce'
Right from the beginning of this government, the candidacy of Chief Ogbonnaya Onu an Igbo technocrat was touted for the post of the Secretary of the Federation, but many believe that he must have lost out with the emergence of Mr. Ike Ekweremadu as Deputy Senate President. Do you share this view?
No, I don't because you cannot use an illegality to discountenance legality. That will be double damage. Ekweremadu came on his own platform being PDP. He is not a member of APC. Of course his candidacy as Deputy President of the Senate is still being contested, and so you cannot use it to nullify somebody who is a strong member of APC. Ogbonnaya Onu is an intelligent and level headed leader that has proven himself to be consistent in the opposition all these years. He is not the type that jumps from one party to another. He is very principled like the president himself. So I believe both being of the same kind, should be able to work together. Secretary to the government is a very important appointment which I believe that with his track record, experience, nationalistic feeling, a sound technocrat with first class honors’ degree, he will do immense justice to that position. He has the wherewithal to really give this nation that leadership support that President Buhari deserves at this time. It is about trust and ability to act and thus synergies the change mantra into reality
The General with Asabeafrika's GDA in a recent encounter
It is probe here and probes there. The president says he will probe the last government, but people say that is selective. What do you say?
It is his prerogative. I know that one probe determines what happens thereafter. You do not start counting two when you have not counted one. If it becomes necessary to do that, he could. But in the interim, he has to start with the immediate regime. If a fraud that concerns one regime dovetails into an earlier administration, then of course, he will take it to its logical conclusion without witch-hunting anybody as he promised.
Genera Momah to Asabeafrika 'It is President Buhari's Perogative to Probe or not to probe
With the revelation by Edo state Governor that a minister in the ex President Jonathan government stole as much as $6b couple with other forthcoming revelations, as a statesman, how do these make you feel?
I feel bad that we have over 40m young ones who are unemployed graduates, some unemployed for seven years or more. Most young men are of marriageable age but are unmarried because they have no jobs and this, is now affecting our girls with no suitors. And that cycle of social problem is what is giving rise to kidnapping and the misdemeanor of our girls on the streets. Therefore, I totally agree with PMB who said during his campaigns that looters of the economy are worse than terrorists. Imagine one Nigerian looting $6b, meanwhile, America is giving us $5m as their widow’s mite in the North East, because they know that a citizen of ours has $6b looted and kept in their country.
It is absolute madness. I think they should be accordingly dealt with and money repatriated. And when that happens, the money should not be shared as it was done in previous administrations, where such looted money was shared between federal and state governments. Instead it should be used for infrastructural development such as rail network country-wide, power, steel plants, textile industries, drainage of water ways, building of dams, massive low cost housing in the Federal Capital territories and in the state capitals, so that workers will have affordable houses, and basic transport to enable their take home pay to take them home comfortably. If the little money they are paid cannot do much for them, then the problem of corruption will still continue. Such projects should be named 'government’s stolen money projects' to remind people that these projects were built with money stolen by our brothers/sisters but recovered.
“It is all I have to bequeath to posterity. Being a pensioner I haven’t got wealth to give anybody so I want to leave in the hands of Nigerians documented legacy of how the country has been managing itself all these while. Most of our children, when you tell them that there was civil war in this country, they cannot believe it”.
General Sam Momah's Star Book, Nigeria Beyon Divorce
With the impatience of Nigerians, what do you think the President can quickly do to bring more sanity to the nation?
Nigerians of course need palliative measures and that should be directed to the workers and down-trodden Nigerians particularly those in agriculture. They are the engine of bureaucracy for the government. If workers are happy, it is the beginning of sanity in the polity. There should be a commitment between the federal and state governments, to flood the federal capital and the states with means of transport and we cannot therefore ignore the rail system. It should be given highest priority nationwide. We must crisscross Nigeria with a railway system and also revive telephone landlines in order to stop impoverishing the masses through mobile phone which is destroying the economy with Nigerians spending about N500bn monthly on recharge cards and buying mobile phones. It is not impossible. Right now instead of focusing on our airports alone, we should look into the rail system. In the past we have been focusing on airports by states building airports thus encouraging people to buy personal jets. Even the roads are not as advisable as the rail, because we live in the tropics. Each time it rains, it weakens the sub-structure because we don’t have rigid pavement. As an engineer I know that what we do here is flexible pavement. In Europe and America they go for rigid pavement, they use concrete to make their road base and then put asphalt on it. That way, it remains for life. But it is expensive, we cannot afford it, and that’s why we use laterite base and then put tar to seal it. When it rains, it weakens the laterite base and the road collapses. But rail solves that problem. Its mass transit lets de-emphasize vehicular movement. Modern Rail Network should henceforth be in our master plan.
The General & His Wife, Lady Momah during his 70th birthday and launch of his star book; 'Nigeria Beyond Divorce'
You released another book a couple of months back. Why are you busy writing now?
It is all I have to bequeath to posterity. Being a pensioner I haven’t got wealth to give anybody so I want to leave in the hands of Nigerians documented legacy of how the country has been managing itself all these while. Most of our children, when you tell them that there was civil war in this country, they cannot believe it. So I have to write more books and hopefully get Ministry of Education to approve some of them to be used in our schools.
I am presently writing my seventh book. The reading culture in Nigeria is very low.  People do not read, and it is said that you have to read in order to lead. Consequently, we have to encourage people to read by getting our books into the school system which I’m not succeeding in doing presently. These local books should be mandatory so that people will know what has transpired in Nigeria in the past. I have written a book on the amalgamation of Nigeria. It is crucial this time around.
For instance, what was the essence of amalgamation and what has been the implication? Was it a mistake or a mission? How can we benefit from the amalgamation? These are the issues that I dealt with in that book. I wrote another one, 'Nigeria on the brink,' where I analyzed Nigeria's problems and proffered solutions to them. The book I am writing now is titled, 'Nigeria and the miracle of a new dawn.' Again, I am trying to document what really took place during the 2015 elections and the hope for the future. These are the kind of initiative I believe that posterity needs. It is worth reading and making use of such knowledge.
General Sam Momah's Book on Amalgamation
The recent trip to the US by the president met with criticism in some quarters. Do you think the trip is progressive, to move Nigeria forward?
It was a rare occasion for us to showcase ourselves. For the president of the most powerful country in the world to invite our president in the very first weeks in office is something that speaks volumes of the integrity of our president and how he is being received by world powers and therefore it augurs well for Nigeria. That is why I say it is the beginning of a new dawn. We will wait and see the essence of that trip. Many things will come our way but as Nigerians we should not wait for other countries to come to take charge of our problems. That will never happen. We must realize that developing Nigeria depends on us. When we talk of CHANGE, the CHANGE should start with every Nigerian. The visit is a good start particularly in the fight against Boko Haram and the investments in our economy.
Genera Sam Momah to Asabeafrika 'The Coup of June 9 by the Nigerian Senate is the biggest Challenge to the CHANGE mantra of President Buhari'
Your books portray the mind of a writer who is very worried about his country. With the new dawn as you say it is in the country; are you still very worried about Nigeria?
I am still very much worried. Even more worried than I used to be and that is because of the event that took place on June 9th. It is something that Nigerians should watch with vigilance and speak up against. Somebody surreptitiously got himself elected senate president by less than 60 senators instead of a full floor of 109 senators.  Quorum or no quorum, the circumstances are utterly unwholesome. It is not honorable. One expected that a proper election should have been done. But when done secretly and defiantly, it is not patriotically wholesome. For the senate that is supposed to be distinguished and honorable, it is obscenely unethical. Nigerians should condemn it in totality. I hope that the false step should be corrected soonest.
General Sam Momah's Book Before Goodluck Jonathan was Ousted in
Again, when the party chairman, sent a letter to be read on the floor of the senate/house, it was not read. Even when PMB talked about the supremacy of the party and urged that party decisions should be respected, the senate in defiance ignored it. This was how Ojukwu – Gowon problem started and snowballed into a civil war which has pushed Nigeria into the mess she is in today. Having won an election in which the defeated president for the first time conceded defeat, it was a golden opportunity to lead Nigeria aright but the 9th June coup left a sour taste. It is sad. I can see something that we are ignoring and thinking it is minor, snowballing into something else. When Boko Haram started, people ignored it. Now so much damage has been done. So I am still worried. I hope the senate president and all those involved will subsume their personal ambition and have a re-think for the sake of Nigeria and thus do things properly, and assure the nation that they have accepted they did something unwholesome and hence correct the wrong step so that we can get the CHANGE that we all fought for and looked forward to. I congratulate Hon Dogara and the House of Representatives for taking the honorable path. I pray the Senate does the same. I believe strongly that we will surmount eventually because with the character, tenacity and patriotism of PMB, he will definitely use his maturity to take Nigeria to the promise land.
The General, angry with Senate President Bukola Saraki for altering the CHANGE mantra with his June 9 Coup

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