The presidential candidate of theNew Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Rabiu Kwankwaso, has promised to stop the allocation of security votes if elected the president in the 2023 general election.
He also claimed that Nigeria has more than enough money to take care of every one of its citizens, adding that he would not borrow to pay salaries or take care of recurrent expenditures.
Kwankwaso stated this on Sunday night while speaking at the town hall meeting series organized by Channels Television in conjunction with UK Aid, Hope Action Progress for Women and Youth in Politics, Situation Room, Yiaga Africa and the Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL).
Kwankwaso had attended the meeting in Abuja with his running mate in the presidential election, Bishop Isaac Idahosa.
The presidential candidate tackled questions on security, the economy, education, and some other key issues.
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Kwankwaso’s position: Kwankwaso revealed that during his time as the governor of Kano state, he never collected one naira as security votes, contrary to the practice that he inherited. He said:
“For the eight years I was governor, I have never taken one naira on the issue of security votes and I have inherited governments there were taking N10m in a day seven times, ten times. In fact, at a stage, we had a record of 12 times because the governor can only approve N10m so they would take N10m times whatever number they want.
“The only thing that we did not publish for the eight years I was governor was the money given to the security agents but we have the record. So, security votes, in my own opinion, is a big way of stealing money because that is why I have never done it; if I have the opportunity again, there would not be anything like security votes in the presidency.
“So, we have seen cases where a lot of money is been siphoned in the name of security votes and nobody can defend it and, I think that should be stopped using whatever means because it’s only a good way of taking cash from the treasury.’’
Nigeria has money: Speaking on indiscriminate borrowing which he claimed has negatively impacted Nigeria’s economy, Kwankwaso said:
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“There is so much money in this country, anybody who says there is no money either doesn’t know or wants to be mischievous. There is enough money to take care of each one of us in this country; we have done it in Kano from 1999 to 2003, we met a lot of debts, but we paid the debts after eight years. When I went back I met debts of hundreds of millions of US dollars, and we settled them before I left in 2015.
“I’m talking of borrowing money either from banks or individuals. We have never borrowed. So I believe that that can be replicated, to a very large extent, at the national level. I will not say I will not borrow, but only if they are for important things. Not borrow to pay salaries, handle current expenditures and so on. I believe there is even more than enough money in this country to handle that.”
Kwankwaso also said that if elected president he would negotiate with Nigeria’s creditors to reschedule payment of debts so that government can have money to take care of other things.
“The situation, as we are being told now, is that whatever we are getting as our resources, as our money in this country is not even enough to service our debt, I think that is what we have heard. Now the issue is that any responsible government day one will sit down with all the people, and creditors and see how they can be rescheduled, there has to be a negotiation.
“You cannot be collecting all your resources and paying interest to the creditors, there has to be an arrangement to make sure that you are given a breathing space so that you can start bringing in the good things that are necessary for the country to move forward.’’