By Dare Adekanmbi
ONDO State governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, has advised the Presidency to pick a replacement for Ibrahim Magu as chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) if the Senate will still not clear him.
Akeredolu said the country must not be allowed to grind to a halt over the non-clearance Magu because “we have more than 1,001 people who can be chairman of the EFCC.”
The Senate had twice refused to clear Magu on account on damning security reports it received from the Department of State Services (DSS), which predicated the reports on the failure of Magu to pass integrity test.
The governor spoke on Saturday in Ibadan, Oyo State, on Political Circuit, a radio programme anchored by Isaac Brown on Fresh F.M.
He punctured the claim in some quarters that the Senate needed not clear Magu before he could function as EFCC chair, asking rhetorically, “If the Senate did not need to clear him, why was his name sent there in the first instance?”
“For me, the issue has to do with interpretation of the law. I think the Senate has gone to court over it. Let the Supreme Court determine what the status of the law is. The argument arose as to whether the Senate needed to clear him.
“My take on this is: If the Senate did not need to clear him, why was his name sent there in the first instance? The Presidency must clear the air on that. Then the argument changed that his clearance is in the EFCC Act and not in the constitution. But it is there.
“Is the Act in conflict with the constitution? If it is not, then you have to apply it. It is a gray area for now and needs the imprimatur of the Supreme Court to decide where we go from there.
“The Supreme Court can ask the question: Have you had an EFCC chairman who was not cleared by the Senate? That can be raised. It can say then we have established a convention that he must be cleared. The clearance is provided for in the EFCC Act and so why don’t we go by it?
“The Supreme Court can also explain if the provision in the EFCC Act is in conflict with the constitution it will explain how that happens. We have wonderful Judges everywhere and the way we give interpretation is different. It may be subjective.
“For me, I know what I believe. I don’t see any reason for instance why the clearance must not be sought. If the Senate decides it will not clear Magu, then the Presidency should pick another person,” he said.
Asked if himself, Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State and Dr Kayode Fayemi and Babtunde Fashola represented the Buhari’s boys in the South-West and the new face of the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the zone, he said he was aligned to APC and reiterated his belief in the party.
“This colouration does not fit in at all. In the first instance, I can’t be a boy to anybody. I am a man of myself. This is why I have always insisted on a few things. So, to be described as a boy to anybody can’t fit for me.
“Today, whether we like it or not, the leader of our party is President Muhammadu Buhari and you can’t dispute that fact. The party has hierarchy of leadership. So, don’t let us trivialise the position of the president. He remains the leader of the party,” he said.
“So, if I believe in and stand by the party and anybody feels otherwise, so be it. I don’t have apologies to make to anybody on that point.
“If tomorrow, the president takes a position that I am opposed to, I will come out and say it and there is nothing that will stop me. That is my life. I will first tell him in private and if he decide to go out public to maintain the same position, then he can be on his own and I, on my own. If I lose thereafter, there is no problem. If he wins, so be it,” he said.
On Ondo workers’ rejection of ‘fractional payment’ of salary arrears, Governor Akeredolu said the workers were asking that 100 per cent of the N7.6 billion Paris Club excess deduction be deployed to pay salary arrears, saying no reasonable governor would commit all his revenue to paying salary.