Senator Ibrahim Gumba is chairman of the Transition Committee in Bauchi State. In this interview with BEATRICE GONDYI, he speaks on the task ahead of his committee and other matters arising
What really are your terms of reference?
Our terms of reference are many. I cannot easily memorise them now. But we are supposed to analyse the activities of government and take them over for the incoming government. In doing so, we have divided ourselves into 38 sub-committees and each sub-committee is to handle an aspect of government. For example, a sub-committee on the ministry of Justice is in charge of handover notes of the ministry, stating the structure of the ministry, the personnel, funding, infrastructure like offices, vehicles and so on. When the handing over is read by the sub-committee, if there is any reason to ask for additional information, we can raise questions to the ministry for those additional information, that is the sub-committee working on the ministry of Justice. For example, the ministry may have outstanding cases against the government, we will want to know how many? how are they? There maybe a lot of judgment dates against the government, we will want to know what the judgement dates are. From what date, who are the people that are involved and where was the judgement given, have we started paying? If no, why? If it has, how? So these are some of the questions you ask. If you go to the sub-committee handling ministry of education, that sub-committee is expected to receive handing over notes from the ministry of education which will have all gamut of activities from the ministry of education stating the structure, directorates, divisions and then the various infrastructures controlled by the ministry. Running of the ministry, the finances of the ministry, for example, if you take over notes, you will want to find out how many schools? Are they well staffed? What is the staffing position. You will want to also know if the day and boarding schools? And if they are mixed boarding schools, are they well catered for, are they owing contractors money for the supply of materials? Are there outstanding debts of the government? You want to know because you are taking over a government. If there are outstanding debts, you have to prepare, you want to know them so that you arrange to pay during your tenure, then you take also the various aspects of education so that when you take over you want to know which area you should pay special attention to. These are some of the things we ask about. Like I said, we are not an investigative committee, ours is to take over the handing over notes and ask questions and seek explanattion so that government will know what it is taking over. What is the position of government as at when it is taking ove? You know the assets, if there are liabilities, you will know if the liabilities are being paid, the source, is it direct from the ministry of finance, is it from the federation account? So that you don’t default when you take over. This is essentially the work of the transition committee.
What successes have you recorded so far in the course of your assignment ?
Initially, there were mixed feelings especially when a new government is coming into place. It is even more intriguing when the opposition is taking over. People feel we have come to witchhunt or to conduct investigations. We have not come to do that. I can give you an example, we had a ministry, a department that refused to comply as we were trying to round off quickly. They refused to provide their handing over notes to us. They have refused to interact, interface with our sub-committee in the ministry and the organisation is universal basic education SUBEB. They were supposed to give us an office they refused, we contacted the SSG and he gave us office in the Secretariat. We wrote them to come and appear but they say they have already handed over to the SSG. We wrote to the SSG that this particular office has refused, if it does not cooperate peacefully now, it will have to be forced to cooperate some other day. We didn’t say when we take over but we said some other day. They should understand that some other day means when we take over they will have to come and explain their activities. As for last minute contracts, we told them that we didn’t cause the problem, they delayed their matter up till the end of the tenure. So if they are unable to process the contract properly and then award them before we take over that is their business. And should they rush to do it, that is if they don’t go through the normal procedure, such contracts will be revoked when we come in. So why waste time? They should cooperate with us and then we will know what to do. If there are certain things we feel we should allow them to do, we would say okay, go ahead, you have gone through all the procedures for the award of the contract of those items, go ahead and award it. It is within your purview, but those ones that you have not done leave it for the next government. He could have done that easily but he has refused because the quantum of money is high and so he wants to do it himself. And he is not willing to cooperate with us but he knows that constitutionally by May 29 this government has to go and we will take over at that point in time, we will now investigate whatever we want to investigate. We are not investigating now. It is the only institution that has refused to cooperate, others had cooperated. The other ministry that has not cooperated fully as we wanted is agency for allocation of Land. I understand, that organisation also is in the process of last minute allocation of lands particularly around the old airport. They have been hurriedly surveying and parceling plots of land trying to process and allocate them before they move out. We have tried to ask the man in charge but he is being intransigent, so we will leave him to do so, he has the right to do. It is within the tenure of his government now, but after May 29 may when the tenure elapses and the new government has arrived to do what it wants to do, we will tell him that he should take note, if he does what he wants today, we will also do what we want tomorrow. So it is better he cooperates with us. If he cooperates with us, we will tell him those lands you want to allocate, you have not done the process properly, the ones that you have processed very well and you have taken all steps to ensure that procedures be done, go ahead and do it. Then when we take over we have no reason to challenge his activities because it is already discussed and agreed. But he too is being intransigent and he is not willing to cooperate. So these are the only two institutions out of about 38 that we are finding some lack of cooperation from.
Is there any hidden agenda or ulterior motive from your findings by the outgoing government?
Our function was not to find out whether they have hidden agenda, or whether they have stolen or whether they have embezzled whatever they have , no. Ours is to take over government as it is. If you made certain expenditures give us and say we have made these expenditures. It is left for the governor when he takes over to say whether those expenditures were properly done or not. But the mandate of our committee is just to take over even if there are areas of suspicion, ours is just to identify them at the point of handing over and report to the governor, areas we think need deeper investigation in order to establish the right thing that has to be done there. He will know whether or not there were cases of embezzlement. But for now we have taken over and these are things we have been given. So we have not identified any wrong that has been done because it is not our responsibility to do that, we are just taking over everything but then where we are not satisfied, we recommend to the incoming government that further investigation be conducted.
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