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"Give Localities Autonomy of Their Resources" Ishola Williams - Part 2 (Posted 13th May, 2002) Tell your friends about this page! Email it to them.

Let us at the Savannah bank and the Central Bank/NDIC saga from a transparency and due process perspective. Do you feel that Nigerian banks and other financial organisations can become more transparent and by implication increase people's confidence in the sector?

Gen. Williams: I've said earlier on that Nigerian banks are not transparent sincerely and it's because of the way they were formed and those who were members of the Board of Directors. The first generation of private banks apart from Union bank, First bank, and so on, those who formed them were dependent on government putting funds in their banks. That is what they depended on, they did not depend on the economy, they did not see their banks as motors for the economy. And can anybody be in business environment of Nigeria today? Can you say that banks help businesses? Nobody. If you have a business plan go to any bank you won't get money, no matter how brilliant your business plan is. If you are not even careful they will give your business plan to another person. So, overseas banks will beg you when you. Talk to the banks here they say, “no you know Nigerians are crooks”, as if they too banks are not crooks. So in what way is the bank helping Nigerians in business to grow? That is the question we need to ask ourselves now, in what way? In what ways are Nigerian banks helping the Nigerian businesses to grow? And when you compare them to U.K and other countries, are they really part and parcel of our economy that is developing? Which one of them has gotten you venture capital to help young people in business? Which one has gotten special programmes to help young people in business? Which bank in Nigeria is taking any risk at all? No, very few banks in Nigeria take risk. First bank went and gave $96 million to this people who are bidding for NITEL, why should they do that, why? Was that a wise investment? Did they do their home-work properly? In fact, if they do not return the money back to that company, the Managing Director of the bank should resign OK.

Ishola Williams, Honorary Secretary General, Transparency in Nigeria.Now we have a situation in which the Central Bank says it’s investigating about 21 banks, if you are an investor abroad, will you come here? And some people are telling me yesterday that between now and June some banks are going to go on distress; they are going to be distressed. Some State Governments are owing banks, some of them 40 billion, 50 billion what did they use the money for? And the banks are interested in borrowing the State Governments money, when they know that they are not viable business partners. The stock exchange is allowing State Governments to raise bonds, some State Governments who are finding it difficult to pay salaries and you are telling them to raise bonds, they want to leave debts for the next generation OK. Look at the interest rate, you go to the bank when you borrow money from the bank and you are paying one quarter of that amount of money in interest, how do you want to make a profit? And at the same time when you put in a fixed deposit they will give you 16% to 17%, whereas they charge people who will get from them for 25%, you see the margin. You go to the bank, somebody sends you money in foreign exchange, in the parallel market it is about N135 to N137 to the US Dollar, the bank will say that official rate is N114, they will give you N114, they start carrying the money to their friends in the parallel market to make a handsome profit. So if you have a friend that works in the foreign exchange department, goody goody. So if you are in university together after 3-4 years you won't know him again because his low cut and the pomade that he uses for his hair is something different not to talk of the car he or she rides. Is that an economic system? Your financial system does not support any business growth at all, it does not support any business.

And what I have seen in this, sincerely, there is no single African that is in charge of his national economy, no. From South Africa to Egypt, some even try but when you look at Sub-Saharan Africa we are not in charge, we are not in charge. What are we pushing now? NEPA. What are we looking for? Money to finance NEPA. How much is African government raising to finance NEPA? They are holding conferences, Clinton was here on Thursday to tell them that I will give you some money towards NEPA, haven't we heard that before. In about 2,3,4,5 years time they would be tired of NEPA and be looking for something else. Is their anything that we can sustain our self? Is their anything that we can sustain our self? We have no sense of quality, Asians countries, they just produce anything because it is cheap we will buy it or we buy them, no sense of quality, no sense. Luckily we have one lady now in NAFDAC who is saving us from drugs, God bless her. To be frank, there are people there before her, people like her give us hope that there are good people in Nigeria, look for them and they will do the job. So, when you come down to the banking sector, they help those they know, they help those who can share money with the managers and things like that and they are just there, they are (supposed to be) the motor for business development in Nigeria or for any new ideas or development at all. So, and in that system there can be no transparency at all. The amount of fraud that is going on in banks is disgraceful I am telling you. At Central Bank now that is what they are investigating. So if you are investigating 21 banks in the country, it is a very serious issue.

Are you saying that Mr Sanusi of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is doing a good job in the banking sector?

Gen. Williams: Yes, he is making inspectorate branch to work. It's not that the Central Bank is a hall of saints, no there are crooks within the system too OK and there are people who couldn't stand up to Abacha and co. when they were dealing with all this money. But, the point is that they are now realising that without a good banking system, you cannot have a strong economic system and no investor will come in when you have a rotten banking system and they are taking steps to do something about it OK. I don't know the details about Savannah Bank, that you mentioned earlier but if on what one reads in the newspaper, I'm not trying to even look into details. What they are doing is not different from what these other banks do, yes what they are doing is not different from what these other banks do. And I am telling you that some banks, most of the banks in Nigeria, if State Governments and Federal Government and all these people remove their money from those banks, they will collapse. And if you stop all these banks dealing in foreign exchange, they will collapse, they will collapse, that is the point.

How do you assess the Nigerian terrain from the angle of infrastructural decline, lack of electricity, good road network, the issue of Sharia, absence of security (using the Ige assassination as a case study), resource control clamour by the State Governments which you've mentioned earlier on, the cry of marginalisation, ethnic crisis, religious intolerance and even the clamour for Sovereign National Conference and the problem or the defects in out federalism which is not a true federalism and many other issues like. How do you assess from your view?

Gen. Williams: Ehm! In fact, most of these issues have been covered, what I have said from the beginning of this interview. Everything boils down to economic democracy. Decentralise infrastructures like I've said, communication, transportation and power, decentralise them. Most important thing is the resource control. If communities can be rich, Nigeria will be rich. As long as communities are poor you will have all these problems of ethnic conflicts and things like that. People fight over scarce resources, they don't fight over plentiful resources, they don't. And prosperous communities don't fight, they don't kill each other and that is why you find that in Ikoyi or Victoria Island people don't bring out cutlass to quarrel, because when you are very rich and life is comfortable you don't want to die. Therefore, if you create that sort of situation at the community level all these conflicts will stop. And like I said that decisions by the Supreme Court was a mistake (Control and ownership of sea area and resources in littoral states of Nigeria by the federal government).

I am told that when judges sit to pass judgment they don't look at the legal implications of their judgment alone, they look at the social implications also of their judgment. They look at socio-economic implications of their judgment. If you say Federal Government, resource control we don't even need to go to the Supreme Court to test that because the constitution is very clear now and the laws of the land are very clear especially about petroleum, you don't need to go to the Supreme Court for that OK. And if those State Governors expected they were going to win, they must be stupid, they should sack their Attorney Generals, if I were the Governors I will just sack all the Attorney Generals OK. Now as long as we continue to do top-down financing, allocation, we are not going to get anywhere. As long as we control infrastructures from the centre, we are not going to get anywhere OK. As long as your banking system is not working well, you are not going to get anywhere. But, the key issue I will continue to say in this regard, let the communities get direct sale and direct benefits from their resources so they don't wait for any money from the Federal government, that is, the key. So you create communal capitalism from the bottom and then you build everything on it. And when people then have money from the community level, private capital will flow, you don't need to bother yourself about primary school, they will have enough to build primary schools, even secondary schools. You don't need to bother yourself about primary healthcare, they will do all that.

People of Nnewi when they were looking for telephone, they contributed money and gave money to NITEL to build them a digital exchange because they need to contact people in Hong Kong and so and so forth, for their business, they built it. So people if they have direct benefit of resources they can do most of these things on their own and all these ethnic conflicts, do you hear of any conflict in Nnewi, they don't fight, there are so many things to occupy them, they are busy making money. People busy making money will have no time to fight, even if they see a fight they will run away. That is why there is no surprising thing in Nigeria, Kano, Lagos or anywhere, whenever Oshodi, as an example, when there is a riot in the morning, in the afternoon what do you see, all the market people are back, as if nothing happened. (laughs) everybody will run out, give them some few hours after that people there are coming back to the streets to come and start selling their goods. That shows you, what it is at the community level. So how do you make them do more if you are providing resources for them and they cannot come from the system? And that is why the Poverty eradication programme (PEP) or Poverty alleviation programme (PAP) of the government it will always fail and they know. It is the business of Local Government and they can only get resources from their own Local Government to provide that and in the real sense of it there is no poverty, no poverty. It is a question of sustaining the livelihood of the people at the bottom, adding value to whatever that are doing. So if you are a palm wine tapper, how do you bottle your palm wine so that it does not go bad and it is fit for drinking and it can be sold in the store? So a palm wine tapper of today can become a bottler of palm wine tomorrow by just providing him the capital. So all those issues I have mentioned boils down to this issue of resource control and even corruption too. Because when you give money to the community, if one man chops the money they will kill him, they will kill him, that is it. So you can also reduce corruption to the limit and improve the lives of the people, because they have direct allocations of resources not from the top but from what they are sitting on in their own area.

Transparency International, that is, the parent body, has consistently categorised Nigeria as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Do you think this is a fair assertion and what is the situation in 2002?

Gen. Williams: Yes if you ask an average Nigerian he will tell you that Nigeria is a corrupt country OK. And this is an impression of people who are doing business with Nigerians in various parts of the world, that is their impression about Nigeria. And even Nigerians who work in foreign embassies to get forms there you tip them to give you forms. How much more if a Nigerian is sitting down in a Ministry and you want to collect a form. How many Ministries do you go to and you ask them for a form, nine or ten of them will tell you that the form is not available. Have you ever gone to any Ministry in which they put forms outside so that you can collect it, you just go there, take your own. A clerk will hide them and tell you that "Ah you know this is the only one that is remaining and I can only make photocopy for you, bring N20.00". Whereas there may be thousands of forms that have been printed there but just to make money for himself. You are a foreigner and you are in a Danfo and you see policemen collecting N20.00 from every Danfo that stops, what is your impression of that country. Or a businessman you take a friend to a bank and you are discussing with the Manager and emh, the manager says that let us see later, let us see later, what does that mean, he or she wants a cut from that, except he is really God fearing one OK. So when you then go into every area, which one, if you know Nigeria you come into Nigeria everywhere you go to you are against on obstacle or the other until you produce money and there have been cases in which you even give the money you don't even get what you asked for and for you to collect your money back and you go and report to the Police ah! To a foreigner and you are in that situation, if you go and report to the Police what do you expect.

Then the key problem, how do we stop 419? Anybody that has an email in any part of the world about 6 out of 10 would have received one email or the other from a Nigerian that has some 30 million (US Dollars) somewhere that he wants you to keep in your own account, but to be able to do that he needs you to send him some money to be able to bribe those people who are going and some people had been duped that way. Some have even travelled to Nigeria. They don't operate in Nigeria any more, some were caught in Kenya in Nairobi doing business with some Americans. Someone telephoned me the other day saying his talking from London, he wants me to do some business on mineral and the president of the company they are dealing with is coming here and so on and so forth. I told him that this should be the last time he should talk to me and he claimed that his name is Williams, can you imagine! When somebody calls you from abroad, you will know because their will be a click, their was no click, so I knew that he was talking from some where in Lagos, he wanted me to give him my email and then for him to send me these lists and we receive that everyday, this one was even bold enough to telephone. So these are the sort of people, sort of citizens that you see, there is a case of somebody who went to a place in Ibadan, somebody called from London and told her to go to that place in Ibadan. The person that was seeing her there had a bible on his table claiming to be a member of the Redeemed church where that person goes to so that person trusted him, gave N10,000, went back to the same address to go and collect the goods, he promised, they said they don't know that person there any more. How do you want people to have a good impression of the country? So Nigerians do things really that you know is dirty. Then the issue of drugs, some few Nigerians were shot in Thailand, some few months ago. Why? Drugs! The things we do really cannot be said to improve the image of Nigeria. Luckily there are some few, there are more good Nigerians than the few bad ones, that is just what is saving the image of this country. And luckily too Obasanjo has a good image abroad, if not. And Transparency International in particular are taking into consideration the effort of the Nigerian government in fighting corruption, but are the people themselves, are the civil servants helping? That is the question.

Before May 1999, General Obasanjo was a member of Transparency International does he still maintain such a status at the organisational level and if yes how has the organisation impacted on his anti-corruption crusades.

Gen. Williams: He was a member, Chairman of the Advisory Board of Transparency International, but you know normally once you become a head of state you must resign so that it will not give the whole thing some form of political connotation. Because Transparency International must be seen to be independent politically and otherwise, therefore he had to resign. He has since he got to power been working very closely with Transparency International and other bodies too at the international level under the World Bank, DFID and so on and so forth, in dealing with the issue of corruption. So, and at least one thing that all Nigerians say is that they have never caught Obasanjo doing any dirty thing, getting involved in contract, getting involved in one business deal or the other or transferring money illegally or so. So, as a person he has maintained that personal integrity but whether his Ministers and others he has been able to make them do the same as he is doing is another question altogether. He has set-up his Anti-Corruption commission and I hope they are getting the assistance to be able to do their job and I believe that in anyway he has not interfered. The only thing that ehm ... is that all the ministers that have resigned. If they have resigned because of corrupt practices then they should let us know and they should be taken before the Anti-Corruption Commission that is the issue. So you just don't allow people to go like that without being punished because if not those who will come after them will just come and go they will not be punished. So those people should be made to account for whatever they have done. If they have resigned on their own, yes for inefficiency or for what reason or the other, it's alright, but if it is for corrupt practices then they should.

Recently, one time Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme stated that the Federal Government should declare a state of emergency in the education sector. Would you agree with this assertion in view of the incessant and long-standing face-off between the government and Academic staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and so many strikes? If you agree, what do you think is the way forward to return education in the country to its great height of the past years?

Gen. Williams: Again, I will come back to this issue of resource control, if the State have resources Federal Government should get out of running universities and leave the States to run universities and then what the Federal Government should do is this. Federal Government should build one Post graduate institution or take university of Ife and say university of Ife as from now on anything that has to do with electronics and computers you only do Masters and Doctorate programme and you be a centre of excellence for research into that for Government. University of Ibadan, your medical school will be that and so and so and so forth. So that Federal Government will only run post graduate schools, we have one in the North and one in the South of this post graduate schools in engineering, in health and other related areas, in finance and management and so on and so forth. States will run universities, Federal Government will run post graduate schools, with this now the States will have enough resources within the resources in their resource control in such area in which they don't need money from the federal Government, they have their direct resource they can run their own universities that is the only way.

The second thing in this issue is that every State Government keeps creating mush room universities and they all keep running the same course Law, Philosophy, Political Science etc. How many Philosophers do we need in Nigeria? Haven't we got enough lawyers, that when you meet some of them in the streets, their white shirts have become brown and some them just hang around in front of the Magistrate Court or something like that. If we are not very careful we shall get to the stage where India has got into producing so many graduates and some of them have become bus drivers or okada drivers, is that the state we want to be? OK. Federal Government will never never have enough money to run the universities, never. Secondly, now that private universities are coming up the people who are rich enough to pay fees will send their children abroad even to Ghana, Togo and to private universities within Nigeria. They will not send them to public universities because private universities don't go on strike, you see. Seventh Day Adventist University at Ilesha, have you ever heard that they have gone on strike? Many people don't even know that they exist. So you send your child their, N150,000 or N200,000 a year, they don't go on strike. And their degrees are recognised by American universities. So if you have no money to send a child and you have about $5,000 you send him/her to Ilesha. The point is this, we continue to deceive ourselves, they form a committee. The committees will bring out the same report that the old committee has brought out, we are afraid of making revolutionary changes. We want to be like Europe, America and so on and so forth. In United States we have mushroom universities too and we have good universities, but we have Americans they know the good universities.

The third thing is that our alumni of various universities, they are not doing enough for their universities. Those of them that are rich enough are not doing enough for their universities some are doing now thank God, but they are not doing enough. The fourth thing in this thing is that if somebody like Okoya is building one estate, I don't know whether you know that Estate on Ibeju-Lekki road which looks like the story we read about Ali Baba and the forty thieves in those days. Couldn't he give that money to a university, hasn't he got enough estates? Is he going to carry them to heaven? And there are so many rich people like him like that. What do they do for education in Nigeria? Even if they give N100 million it is not even enough because they could afford to give N1 billion. Turner of CNN, he went to the United Nations and said for over this period of time I am going to give you $1 billion, have you got any of these people going to the universities saying that over the next 10 years I have reserved N1 billion for you? Like everything in Nigeria we need some structural changes and ASUU believes that the Federal Government has enough money to be able fund universities but it's a matter of opportunity cost if you give so much amount of money to universities, you have to deprive some other elements of that part of that money. So if civil servants are asking for 25% raise, as soon as they get that, university lecturers too will ask for the same raise, doctors and every body OK. So which one do you take care of first, salary raise, universities, Armed forces or which? These are the issues, so everything boils down again to resource control.

Sincerely I will want to assert that many ordinary citizens of Nigeria are not aware of the organisation and the important role the organisation play in the Nigerian society, how do you plan to bridge this gap?

Gen. Williams: Yes, ehm you know the point in the issue is that it is not even important that people don't get to know of us right now. Nigeria is a very big country, we need a lot of money for publicity and everything and we believe that once we start getting to Local Government level then we shall become well known. In most cases people invite us to come and give lectures on issues of transparency and accountability at various workshops, so people do know that we exist at various levels and we've had one or two interactions with some community based organisations, especially when we were drawing up the code of conduct for the members of the House of Representatives and for some of the workshops in which we have done. So we do know, the business sector do know that we exist because we have had series of interactions with them, the public sector knows we exist because we've had series of interactions with them, Code of Conduct Bureau, the Anti-Corruption Commission and all these bodies they knows because we've had series of interactions with them. At the community level that is the gap that we want to cover now and we hope that between now and May we shall be able to cover that gap.

Sincerely I am impressed about your capacity, the vastness of your knowledge on even issues that doesn't pertain to corruption and things like that and it makes me to want to ask, what has been your staying power? The things that has been motivating you at this height of commitment.

Gen. Williams: You know, I look at the whole of the black race and wonder why we should be where we are having seen that the brains of the Asians or the Americans are not different from the brain of the black man and I keep asking myself why haven't we got to that level of our own potential? Because in every country you go where there are black people they are the last set of people either in economic terms or in other terms and you ask yourself why? You go to the West Indies for example the Asians dominate where there are Asians there, in economic life. You go to Europe, the Asians are above the black people in terms of economic activities. You come down to Africa from South Africa to East Africa and so on the Asians dominate. You come to Nigeria where we pride ourselves that we are very vibrant, you know with our women in various economic activities, go and look at all the textiles factories, go and look some of the factories who are the people controlling them?

Do you also know too now that most of the Multinationals that used to have Nigerians has M.Ds (Managing Directors), what do you see now? You just go and make cursory study, they have replaced all of them with foreigners. What does that say for Nigerians? Are we really in the commanding heights of our economy? Is it building of estates and things around and renting out houses that are really the commanding heights of our economy. The production and sometimes the provision, they are in the hands of foreigners. When they just put on a façade of Nigerians as the Chairman and members of the Board of Directors, we are deceived.

When Savannah bank issue broke out, is it not that time that we knew that there were some foreigners who are behind the whole thing and they were forced to come out. You see, the Nigerians who are there they were hiding their heads. It was even rumoured that a great politician who was a former Minister was behind the whole thing. He never said one word, nobody even knows where he his, I am sure he his within the country but he excused himself. If he has the honesty and the courage, why hasn't he said anything with his wife and you think that if Savannah bank is saved for example you think those foreign bankers will want to put another Nigerian there except if they are crooks themselves and many foreigners who even come to do business in Nigeria are crooks, many of them too are crooks because they know the corrupt system exist and they come and exploit the corrupt system and that is all. So those who cannot exploit the corrupt system, they stay away. You see, you look at the Stock Exchange what is the quotation in terms of dollars on the Stock Exchange on a daily basis? Who is investing? But Savannah bank was on the stock exchange when it was collapsing and how many of these things have collapsed in this Stock Exchange that we don't even know about and people's money have gone down the drain? And who are the people responsible? You link them to auditors, accountants, they will tell you "ah! Why should they blame us? It is what has been presented to us that is what we inspected, we are not the internal auditors". When you look at the balance sheet of a company you know whether that company is sick or not, You don't need to be an internal auditor, if a good well trained chartered accountant and for you to get to the stock exchange you must have an auditors report, to get up there and you must be submitting your annual auditor's report every year, so we know which ones are sick. These are all the things that you know we see and you just find out that we are not reaching out to our potentials.

A few people get rich, yes of course and they flaunt their wealth, but how does that help the country, the image, the young generation that is what I'm very particular about, how, where is the future for them? Why is it that everybody wants to go to America, everybody want to go to Europe? Everybody wants to go somewhere. Some young people just want to go to Ghana because they believe that there is no future for themselves here. And if you see, sometime the hostility against Nigerians in some West African countries, in the business circle it'll surprise you. And many people believe that Nigerians are crooks but other West Africans too are crooks, whether they're from Mali, from Senegal or from anywhere. So the agreed impression is that Nigerians are crooks. So these are some of the things that bothers me and we continue to deceive ourselves that we're a great nation because people call us so but internally there are so many problems but these problems have answers. We have refused to take that revolutionary steps, to use those answers to be able to solve those complex problems. Yet they will tell you that it is difficult and things like that of course people want the status quo to remain who are benefiting in this, but nobody can stop the movement of the people, so people like us we are advocating that, the issue of resource control must be tackled from the way from the point of view that I have described. And I have never seen anybody who has been able to say, ehm that your argument is not right, I have never seen anybody because I have told them what is it that you have against this argument, the community level up? So if you have had a system, a structure for 36 years, 34 years and it is not working and you still want to continue like the Supreme Court did, we should have our heads examined. It's a decision that has taken us back, it has taken us back. It has not changed the status quo, and does not help the economic development of Nigeria. People will talk about political unity, see maybe we don't know that because America is prosperous that is why America is unified. If America were as poor as Nigeria they would have broken up. Soviet Union was not as strong economically as the United States that is why it broke up. Economics is the key and we must always remember Claude Ake, economic democracy is the concern of the common people not the political democracy.

On a final note sir, we just want to know what advice will you give to people outside the country wishing to or considering investing in Nigeria? Foreigners and probably Nigerians that are not in Nigeria now, foreigners, the Asians, the Europeans, the Americans that are wishing to invest even the Nigerians themselves. What kind of advice will you give them?

Gen. Williams: Sincerely, I'm not interested in any foreigner, I'm interested in Nigerians, Nigerians abroad in Europe, in United State, in Canada, or where ever they may be, in Brazil, in Asian countries who are doing very very well for them to remember that no matter how rich they are abroad, they cannot stop being black, they cannot being stop being African, they cannot stop being Nigerian, and that when people see them they look at them as that before their riches and if they respect them and do not respect their country then they have no respect as individuals. Therefore, they can help, they can help in giving Nigeria a better image and in what way? If only they don't want to get into business, let's say they will just want to come and start a technical school to train technicians because one of the big problems we have in Nigeria is that you call a technician to come and repair your fridge he will stop it. All this roadside mechanics they just spoil cars and have we got good technical schools to train these intermediate technologist and technicians.

There are so many of them who are qualified abroad who have taught in many technical schools, can they come home and start something so that we can train quality technicians? And you know that if people know that you have quality man power they can come and invest because of that, they can just come and invest because of that quality manpower that you have OK. So in the area of education they can help, they can help a lot. The second area in this thing is that there are some of them who own factories abroad I am told that Nigerians own factories abroad, why can't they establish same here in Nigeria? Why can't they not produce quality products in Nigeria instead of Nigerians importing all those things? Why can't we have pride in our own products, especially now that the government has made up its mind that no matter how bad our products are we should buy made in Nigeria goods?

Then the third thing is this, we're going far and far behind in technology the whole world is leaving Nigeria behind. The Asians have left us behind with I.T. (Information Technology), what are we doing in that particular area? There are so many Nigerians who are geniuses in this area. One gentle man has started this Zinox computer, building laptops and everything with a South African and Asian working with him. I have not seen the sample, I'm just trying to get some body to let me see one and see how the whole thing works. I'm happy that they are going to use it for the All African Games. And I think all of us should buy from that man, if it is bad we should write to him and tell him your computer is bad, do something about it and he too should do something about it. Nigerians who are abroad who can help him with the knowledge and expertise, even if he cannot pay them well, let them help him two months, three months, go back, let them come and help him. Though some people too can come and teach at our Nigerian universities for two or three months, pass on knowledge to the students and then go back.

Then we also have one very bad habit, when Nigerian's come home and they see that things are not working well they run back, no. No country has grown without some people making some sacrifice without some people becoming pioneers then you look at Nigerians also when they establish a business, when they start, it will look beautiful, it will be so good, take two, three, four years what do you find, the quality will just be declining and you wonder "ah ah, is this not the same person when he started this thing, that has maintained this quality? How come that this quality has fallen below? So, what do you find? when Nigerians start making money what's at the back of their mind is how they can have some money abroad. They will have no time to keep some money here and therefore, the money that Nigerians need is abroad, so why should we borrow? Why should we borrow money? Why should we beg for money, because Nigerians have enough money abroad? So if a Governor can buy 2 houses, one in U.K and one in America, what is he proving? Has Tony Blair got a house in Lagos or Jos? Has he got? He has not got?

So, you then find that we have a situation in which we are not looked at from outside as very serious people. Because we are more interested in foreign goods, we are more interested in having houses abroad, we are not interested in developing our own country. So we have to change that attitude and it is Nigerians abroad who will change that, then you can start talking to investors. If not you bring in crooks and you only bring in people who want to exploit Nigeria, not to help Nigeria.

Editor's Note: NEPA is now called Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN from 2005.

Concluding part of interview with Gen. Ishola Williams (Retired), Honorary Secretary General, Transparency in Nigeria held on the 7th of April, 2002.

See Also: Part 1 of Interview with Ishola Williams

See Also: Transparency in Nigeria,  A Profile

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