Alhaji Sule Iyaji, former deputy governor of state in the Second Republic, is a federal government delegate who believes death sentence for corrupt government officials will be effective if those at the helm of affairs are themselves corruption-free. He spoke with Patrick Andrew on this and autonomy for local government.
Many have talked about autonomy for local government, do you share their conviction that they should have autonomy?
Absolutely! This is because local government is the government nearest to the people. So if we make anything meaningful out of that grassroots administration, it will affect positively a large number of the population of this country.
But then, they don’t have the wherewithal. Like everybody said, the local governments are the outfits of the state governments and therefore are being controlled by the state governors. It means, therefore, that they are not independent, they can’t function independently. But again, that is because there is not much fund and even what is allocated to them is not allowed to go down to them.
The other aspect is if you pump money to the local government, given the calibre of personnel, will they have the capacity to utilize such huge funds. So, something has to be done in that realm to make sure that they are quality staff in the local government councils which is not presently the case. So that is the side from which l look at the matter.
The other dominant discussion was the attitude of the implementers of the constitution. What is your view on this altitudinal handicap?
Actually, I agree that there is not much wrong with the constitution; the problem is with the operators of the constitution- the people who run the constitution. This is where the issue of leadership now comes.
We are operating a presidential system of government which revolves around one person- that is the president of the country. So if he is somebody who can lead by example in all areas of governance, all members of his cabinet will emulate him; the governors will emulate as would the common citizens of the country.
I agree that in terms of corruption, it is almost endemic in every Nigerian and it is a major problem. So we have the problem of inability to comport ourselves for meaningful development.
Some have advocated death sentence for corrupt leaders?
Well, the problem is somebody would have to command the execution, then you have to examine that person. How free is he from what he is punishing the other person for? How clean are his hands?
It is like in the Bible where ‘no be Isa said okay to some persons that accused a woman of adultery’, he said to them if you know you are free of sin, lift the first stone against this woman and the people started walking backward. So, it has to do with going to equity with clean hands.