Former chairman of the Subsidy Re-investment and Empowerment Programme, Christopher Kolade has said he resigned his position in 2013 because the Committee’s operations were being riddled in some scales of corruption and needless politics likely to taint his integrity.
The former Ambassador said he bowed out of the Committee early enough in order to safeguard his hard earn integrity.
According to him, some officials in the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan were practicing “something that was lower than the transparency”, which he said Nigerians expected of an interventionist agency like SURE-P.
Kolade who bared his mind on issues in SURE-P in an interview session with the Channels Television said all attempt he made to stop the acts of corruption in the operations of the interventionist agency was stiffly rebuffed by those he had worked with.
He said he predicated his resignation on old age, stating that he had resolved to cut down activities likely to sap energy from him by the time he clocked 80.
He said, “I explained in the letter (to the president) that having done this SURE-P programme for two years and because within the next month I would be clocking 81, I am giving up some activities that take my energy,” he said.
He said although he was prepared to live by the terms of reference which set up SURE-P, he was soon to learn that some interests within government were eying the agency as an avenue for corrupt enrichment.
According to him, “President said ‘we need to gain credibility with the people in this programme. So we believe that if you and your committee can manage this thing transparently in accordance with what we agreed, then that credibility will be there’.
“Now that’s fine. But when I discovered that there were individuals in the system that were practicing something that was lower than the transparency that we went in with, I raised the issues. And I discovered that political affiliations and things made this difficult.”
The former SURE-P boss cited an instance when the agency decided to employ 5000 youth from every state of the federation.
According to him, when it commenced the process, it was told the arrangement it adopted was not acceptable.
He said, “We started by saying that we would offer employment to 5000 youths from every state. Of course if you are sitting in Abuja, and you want to identify 5000 youths in all the states, it is difficult unless you involve people who are on the spot.
“Now, it was the feeling of our committee, led by me, that to identify people in the states, we needed people who were political neutral. In other words, get civil servants to go in there and say according to the criteria you‘ve agreed, these are the 5000 youths from this state. But we were told that would not be acceptable.
“So something was set up called State Implementation Committees made up mainly of people with political affiliations with one party or the other. When that was brought into play, I pointed out that I feared this would politicize what we were trying to do. And that therefore I felt we should take politicians out of this. But I was overruled by those who had the power to overrule me.
“And then, it started happening. I got complaints from Abia state, from Ekiti state that many of the youths being recruited into the programme were supporters of party A or party B and I went back, and said what I suspected is beginning to happen.
“So we need to kill this thing right away and go back to what we agreed. Now, somehow, we couldn’t do that. And for me, if you destroy the foundation on which you are setting up something like that, if you feel that credibility is the key to success in this thing, and then you undermine credibility by politicizing the issues, you are shooting yourself on the foot. And I’m not very good at shooting in the foot because I find out I can’t walk very well after that.”