Senator Robert Ajayi Borofice is representing Ondo North in the Senate. In this interview with RUTH CHOJI, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology talks about the gale of defections from APC and the issue of money-for-vote, which he said must be dealt with because it could affect future elections, among other issues.
Some Nigerians were disappointed with the outcome of the Ekiti state governorship elections. What is your take on what played out?
What happened in Ekiti was a reflection of what the society has become. It is a pity from the reports we saw in the papers and on TV but I think the PDP should be blamed for what happened during the governorship election. It is failure of leadership on the part of the state government because if the state was doing well and people were not that poor, they won’t sell their votes for money. The issue of money for votes has to be dealt with because this could effect future elections. My children will not vote for money but what will happen to the children of the poor? Does it mean that a poor man with good vision cannot aspire for leadership because he doesn’t have money? These are things we must look at before it is too late.
How do we change this trend?
Single elections are every difficult to hold but for general elections, it is different. There is always a heavy concentration of party bigwigs in single elections and tendencies to manipulate and rig the elections is high. That is why you saw different personality in Ekiti from the different parties, a convergence of bug wigs all trying to ensure that, their people win. Another reason is that, the politics the state has already been over heated in Ektit and the turnout was loud. Politicians spend money during elections because they have already been blackmail by the electorate.
Do you still have faith in Nigeria’s electoral system?
Yes, I believe a generation will come up that will do the right thing and not collect money from anybody to vote. What played out in Ekiti should not be encourage to happen in other places or else we will never have credible elections. The whole world was watching and they saw and heard what happened in Ektii state. what happen there was the effect of poverty on the land. It shows that people are very poor and would do anything to get peasant, including selling their conscious.
Do you see APC beyond 2019?
I don’t want to be like the PDP which says they will rule for 60 years but APC has come to stay. Because Buhari is putting the right structures in place. Our economy will improve and things will get better. We will soon get to the point where people will learn to be contented with what they have and do the right thing instead of being greedy. APC is a party that has come to resolve the ills plaguing the nation. If successive government had done the right thing, we will not have the problems we have now. Everybody comes to Abuja, believing this is where it is happening, but why must everybody come to Abuja or Lagos when there are lands to be cultivated in the rural areas? I am not exonerating government in what has bedevil Nigeria, but this government wants to create an environment that will make development move faster. I believe with the drive to diversify our economy from oil to other sectors, Nigerians will appreciate all the pains they are going through now. Our Over dependent on oil has inoculated us against improvement. For the party, I will say that, APC was a new born baby physically which has problems but grew very fast but was not born spiritually. We will reborn ourselves. I don’t bother about people who say they don’t like APC again they were never a part of us in the first place. These people will all fade away.
Some Nigerians see the ongoing anti-corruption war as selective…
I think those people have eyes but can’t see very well. Are you not surprise that for the first time in the history of Nigeria, two former governors were jailed and many more are being prosecuted right now? This government has succeeded where others have failed. Look at how many prosecution EFCC has gotten since the coming of this government. Buhari has succeeded in putting fear into the hearts of Nigerians that people are now afraid to touch public funds. I pray that Buhari will leave people after his 8years that will continue with this legacy. I am not saying there is no corruption in this government but we all know that it has been reduced to the barest minimum.
What about the prosecution of the Senate President at the CCT?
I think most Nigerians are not sincere. Just because you are facing prosecution does not mean the government hates you. The president of Brazil is in jail, a South Korean president who is a woman is in jail. I could go on and on. So if someone has committed an offence or is suspected to commit an offence, the law says, he must be prosecuted and if he is found not guilty, he will be acquitted. I don’t think there was anything wrong with what Saraki went through. It is normal. Besides nobody is above the law. I am glad he is now free. But I don’t think there was anything wrong with what he went through. The agency was just doing its job.
The Senate is presently divided…
No, the Senate is not divided and if it is true, then there is something wrong with the leadership. But I am not aware that the senate is divided. Everyone was sent there to represent their people and make laws for Nigerians. I don’t think there is any division in the senate. Naturally, in a place where there are many people, one is bound to have people that are loyal to him more than others. It doesn’t mean the senate is divided.
The National Assembly was accused of tampering with the 2018 budget again. What actually happened?
I don’t think it is true, we have the mandate to temper with the budget. We have also explain why we tempered with the budget. For example, there was a ministry that budgeted one billion naira (#1bn) for TV station and we asked, what does a ministry need a TV station for? We removed it from there and sent the money to another critical sector. So Nigerian must also start asking the executive questions because some of the budgets they make is wrong. We tried to ensure that the budget followed federal character because there are some places where you will see that all the projects are sited in the minister’s zone or state. Will you encourage us to overlook such things?
The Senate was said to be aware of the fact that Mrs Kemi Adeosun did not serve her father’s land but opted to ‘blackmail’ her for money. What do you have to say?
That is not true. It is not our job to investigate her certificate, it was the security agencies’ job and they gave her a clean bill. Even if we know, our job would be to pass it to the appropriate agency not take it up ourselves.
Coming back to your committee, What are the main hindrances to the development of science and technology in Nigeria?
Perception. The perception is that science and technology is not for Nigerians but for America and British. So if you dare to come out and do something usual, people scream. When we wanted to start talking of satellite, many were surprised that we want to go to space, but Nigeria needs more research center so that Nigerians will benefit form the dividend of democracy. Without science, we cannot develop. There is no area of development that will not involve science. The whole world is using technology for development and Nigeria has to join them or be left thousands of years behind
Going back to your party, APC. So many people are beginning to abandon the party, does this bother you?
These people are not politicians. True politicians will remain in their party no matter what happened. Some have used the herdsmen crises as an excuse but it is not the fault of this government. This problem started before this government came and I want to believe that, the government is doing everything they can to ensure that, it is checked. We need state police like it is done in America. We also need to secure our borders because foreigners from places like Libya, Niger and Mali come into the the country, go to communities, create havoc and run away. So we need to be up and doing and ensure that Nigerians join hands with the government to stop these killings. The state police must be properly guided by law so that state governors will not hijack them for their selfish use. Since we are copying America democracy, then we need to copy their security arrangement because the National police is not enough to resolve this problem. Over the years we have had insufficient number of security agencies, we are among the least police state in the world. That is why government want to recruit more policemen, civil defense and the rest. In spite of the deficiency of past administrations that has come to the forefront now, Nigerians need to join hands with the FG to end this killings. We cannot continue to blame the present government. If the minimum ratio of policing is one to 400 and we have one policeman to 1000 Nigerians, then we need to employ more people.
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