Mr. Richard Daniel is an international business man with interest in Real Estate. However, Richard is known more in Nigeria as a social critic. In this brief chat, Richard talked about his foundation, Daniel and Asabe Foundation which feeds over 750 pupils daily in public schools in Adamawa, his state and the need for the Federal Government to have an amnesty programme for corrupt public officials in the country.
The recession in Nigeria, is presently, as some have argued that it is essentially a function of bad and inconsistent policies of the President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government.
First and foremost, all the indices to indicate there is recession in Nigeria, in my view, is not available. We are a country without genuine data. Once you don’t have data and statistics, it is pretty difficult to come to such conclusion. The only reason people are alluding to that fact is because there is no cash flow in circulation. Lack of cash flow, in my mind, is not recession. Again, the way country and the people have been living on false lifestyle, once there is a little break in transmission, it automatically affects everything around you. As it is, the naira has been on a free fall for close to two years now and yet, nobody is held responsible. It is only in this country you see people play the blame game. Nobody owns up in this country. If it were in other climes, the minister of finance, Governor of Central Bank would have resigned or even sacked by now. In this situation we found ourselves, somebody or persons must be accountable for it. But as you can see,nobody has been and will be penalized.
How true, there is no difference between APC and PDP?
That is true. There is no difference. If you have seen, let me know, there is no economic blue print agenda of all these parties, including the ruling APC. This is one of the reasons why the economy is in this prostate situation. Unless the parties are ideologically drive, there is really nothing we can do. You can’t blame APC for where we are now because they didn’t promise anything. If through their economic blue print, they said they would do this and that, then, you can hold them accountable. Apart from the word of mouth particularly during the campaign, there is no blue print on what and what to be done and how it will be done. Unfortunately, the electorate too just jumped into the train without knowing the direction or destination. What we have now is just a change of name of party, there is no difference between Pre-2015 and post 2015. More than one-quarter members of PDP are now in APC. Everybody is now joining APC. Recently, the former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, joined APC. So it is not a matter of ideology, it is a matter of friendship, religion, tribe and business interest. It is not based on patriotism or service. With the way it is going, we are going to create a bigger monster from APC. It will be bigger than PDP. When PDP was in power, it appeared then that without the party, Nigeria would break into pieces such that the party too was saying it would rule the country for the next 60 years. That is the impression APC is creating too now. APC is bent on killing PDP, so that it can become another monster in the policy.
About 40% of your earnings is directed towards humanitarian services. What brought about that?
I have a foundation, called Daniel and Asabe Foundation and I have been running this foundation for the past seven years it has been solely sponsored by me. I am doing this based on the conviction that God has blessed me more than my expectation. God has given me in excess of what I required. He has blessed me with more than I would required. The balance of what I have and the grace of God over me is what I put together to make up the foundation. The core mandate of the foundation is empowerment, health and education. We undertake renovation of schools, school laboratories, feeding of the pupils. The headquarter of the foundation is in Yola, Adamawa State where I come from. At the moment, we have offices in five local government areas of the state at the moment, we hope that by the end of next year, we would have covered the entire state and then extend to other parts of the country.
Is the foundation into scholarship too?
Before I answer the question, let me say that the foundation feeds more than 750 pupils everyday. The effect of this feeding programme is so impactful that communities within where the schools are located are coming forward to participate in the feeding programme. When we started this feeding programme in 2010, the level of students who have 3 to 4 credits and above was just about 20%. Now, we are achieving about 76%. The success rate now not only impressive but also motivate me to go further. Renovation of schools is usually based on demand by the affected schools. Once we have a request, we move in and settle such request. On the issue of scholarship, you will need to provide the infrastructure for conducive learning, you will need to pass your examinations, just before talking of scholarship. You can only pass your exams if you are in the right frame of mind and in a good conducive atmosphere. Scholarship will come but not now.
Are you surprised about the revelation of corruption cases being unearthed by the Buhari administration.
I am not. The Nigerian system is based on corruption. Corruption is the glue that has bonded us as nation. We are not a nation of role models. It is corruption that has kept us this far. The reason why there is no fight between Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, Christians and Muslims is corruption. Once corruption is involved, you can never hear any noise. Once there is enough money to be shared among the elites, there wont be problems. It is when someone is trying to shortchange another, that is when there would be whistle blowing. I have said it before, anybody that wants to stop corruption in this country will have to be a saint from heaven. The moment he switches on as you will switch on electricity, the country will collapse because corruption has become a way of life. Again, we must make the distinction between corruption and theft. In Nigeria, we assume it is the same thing. Former President Goodluck Jonathan rightly said corruption is not stealing. What the Nigerian elite is involved in is not corruption but stealing, outright stealing. Corruption is mild compared to stealing, even though none is good. For example, when you appropriate for a certain project in the state running into hundreds of millions, instead of getting the job done, the governor decide to pocket the entire money. That is pure stealing, that is exactly what, is common among our leaders. Corruption is more of inducement. What these so called leaders do is outright stealing, not only that, they still as if the world is coming to an end. They steal blindly
So, you are not surprised by the revelation of the over N3b recovered from the former MD of NNPC.
Surprised? Do you know he has gone to court to reclaim the money? So, which is more surprising between the money recovered and he going to court to reclaim the money? That is Nigeria for you. What was recovered is just a fraction of what is in the hands of these people not yet apprehended. Honestly, this government has done well. The Buhari administration has reduced the impurity associated with corruption. The corrupt officials no longer flaunt it to your face. They do that now under the table. That is what this administration has succeeded in doing. Corruption is still going on because it is part of our life. However, I think this their whistle blower thing should be backed up with amnesty. If they can have amnesty that would encourage any of them to come forward and reveal how much he/she has stolen so that certain percentage will be returned to him/her without making any noise. We are lucky that the NNPC MD’s money was found, how about several others that we don’t know about. God forbid if the person dies, the money is also gone. That is why I think amnesty will be appropriate so that this hidden but stolen money will e recovered. For any stolen money to be brought forward, I think giving back certain percentage to the corrupt official. At the end, nobody loses. It is a win-win situation.