By Tony Udemba
Oghene Emma Egoh is a member of the House of Representatives, representing Amuwo Odofin federal constituency of Lagos State, on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He stated his concern for the growing hunger in the land and the discriminatory approach by the present government in its war against corruption, just as he described the whistle-blower policy as capable of reducing the spate of corruption in the country. He also spoke on insecurity and other topical issues.
What are your views concerning the fight against corruption?
There is no doubt that the government is doing its best in the on-going fight against corruption in the country, especially given the spate of discoveries of huge sums of funds both in local and foreign currencies in the houses and business premises of some yet to be identified persons. Certainly with these discoveries, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is doing its best in fighting corruption which has continued to ravage the nation for too long. While this is going on, a major concern to most Nigerians is the pattern of discoveries of these huge sums of cash, as exemplified by grave silence maintained by the EFCC on the ownership of the discovered funds , the premises from where the funds were hidden. Simply put, EFFCC must tell the public the names of the owners of the recovered funds, as well as the owners of the properties where the funds were traced to. These are some of the questions on the lips of most Nigerians.
Nigerians must be saved the puzzle of guessing about the ownership of the funds. It is not just enough to tell us that they discovered billions in some apartments or premises in Ikoyi, Victoria Island or some other places, EFCC should go the extra mile and ensure that the names of those behind these hidden funds are made public. The truth is that everyone is getting tired of these unending entertainment going on in the country. Rather, everyone is anxiously waiting to know the true owners of the discovered funds.
What is your take on the perceived targeting of PDP members in the anti-corruption war?
There is no gainsaying that some members of our great party, PDP, are being targeted in the on-going anti-corruption war. We are greatly concerned about this sad development going on in the country, and continue to insist that those agencies that are in charge of the fight against corruption must operate in line with the laws and constitution of the nation. In fighting corruption emphasis must be placed on ensuring that the due process of the law is followed, and certainly not in victimizing political opponents or perceived enemies of the government. What we want is fair treatment to everyone irrespective of political inclinations.
A situation where political opponents are hounded into detentions, tried in the media, even before proper investigations start, is totally unacceptable. Certainly that is not the proper way of fighting corruption in the country.
How would you rate the whistleblower’s policy of the government?
I would want to commend the government for the introduction of the whistleblower policy, and most importantly for the successes so far recorded by the policy. At least we have seen, and continue to see, also on weekly basis lots of discoveries of huge sums of cash, both in local currencies been hidden by unknown individuals and personalities, in people’s homes and business premises. It has not been too long that this policy was introduced in the nation, but you can see the amazing results recorded so far.
What is your reaction to the proposed introduction of modular refinery system in the Niger Delta region?
The proposed policy by the federal government to set up modular refineries in the oil-rich Niger Delta region is a welcome development. If fully implemented by the government it will certainly bring to a terminal end many years of illegal oil bunkering and youths restiveness in the area. The policy also has the potentials to address issues of unemployment, militancy, cultism and other violent criminal activities in the region. But, like I said for this policy to be successful, the government must firstly, undertake a comprehensive census of operators of illegal petroleum refineries in the area to ensure that it has an accurate data of operators of such illegal refineries, as well as their locations.
Secondly, government has to ensure that these illegal operators are part of the new arrangement, and that they are carried along as stakeholders in the project. The truth is that if they are carried along and made to be part of the modular refineries policy arrangement of the government , certainly all the issues of crude oil theft and illegal oil refining will stop, and become a thing of the past. Again, government must ensure that these operators of illegal refineries are re-orientated and trained to understand the concept and operations of modular refineries. While the government might be considering foreign technologies for the modular refineries, my advice is that it should consider some of our local technologies with the capability of providing such solutions.
What is your take on the economic difficulties in the country?
It is unfortunate that many Nigerians are passing through hard times and find it increasingly difficult to fend for their families. If you go round the country you don’t need to be informed about the level of hardship and the many challenges our citizens are passing through. We have never had it this bad.
The costs of food items and other essential commodities are in the upwards swing and simply out of the reach of the ordinary citizens. People are really suffering in the land, and I would like to urge the federal government to as a matter of urgency come up with palliative measures to bring down the costs of living and cushion the effect of the current difficulties in the country.
Another face of difficulties in the country is the astronomical rise in the number of unemployed persons in the county. The growing number of unemployed persons in the country is simply too alarming and a big problem for the nation if not properly managed . Though this presents a critical picture for the future of the nation and its socio-economic development, there is no doubt that the situation demands an urgent attention of the governments at all levels. There is the need for the government to urgently come up with effective policies and initiatives aimed at boosting employment opportunities in order to positively engage the huge number of job seekers.
What is your take on the growing insecurity in the country?
It is quite unfortunate that for some years now the nation has been grappling with the challenges of insecurity of various shapes ranging from terrorist attacks, armed robberies, kidnappings, herdsmen attacks, youth restiveness and other types of violent crimes. The situation is further made difficult to curb due to the rising army of unemployed persons and the challenges of an under-equipped police force. The truth is that with a huge population of unemployed persons , it might be difficult to tame the increasing rise in armed robberies and other violent crimes across the land.
Again, if you look at the sophistication of crimes today in the country, you will no doubt agree with me that there is the urgent need for the federal government to provide the police with adequate funding to enable them procure sophisticated weapons and equipment to frontally combat criminal activities across the country. I know that the government is doing its best in the fight against insecurity, but I strongly believe that the government has to do more in order to safeguard lives and property in Nigeria.
What are your views on the frequent executive – legislators faceoff ?
The three arms of the government work together, and act as checks and balances to one another for the smooth running of the government. There is no doubt that there may be disagreements between the executive and legislative from time to time, but certainly these disagreements does not mean that they are fighting or quarrelling. One thing you must know is that in democracy there is bound to be agreements and disagreements. That is the beauty of our democracy.
What is your take on the crises facing PDP?
Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is like a big family, and you will agree with me that even in big families people are bound to have quarrel. But, the most important thing is that sooner after such quarrels they still have to come together in reconciliation to forge ahead, and even be more united than before. Though some PDP members are in court today, I am assuring you that sooner or later, the matter will be settled and PDP will be back again in full force. Certainly I have no doubt in my mind that our great party, PDP will come out of this crises to become more stronger and united as the biggest political party in Nigeria and Africa. I am calling all our members to continue to keep faith with the party. Our party is repositioning itself to retake power in 2019. (The Sun)