Senator Yusuf A. Yusuf, from Taraba State, is the Chairman of Senate Committee on Special Duties and member of several Senate Committees bares his mind on what he vehemently feels is the unfair report about his alleged links to the affairs of the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending, NIRSAL.He says the story published by Newsdiaryonline was unfair and untrue as he has no plan to make his wife an MD of NIRSAL He contacted Newsdiaryonline by telephone and insisted on a one-on-on interview to hear his own side of the story published earlier about the intrigues at NIRSAL. He spoke with Newsdiaryonline’s Publisher, Danlami Nmodu, mni at his Abuja office on Tuesday April 12, 2020.This is Part ONE.Watch out for the very revealing Part TWO on national issues on transparency tomorrow, Tuesday May 19,2020. Excerpts:
Q: I like to start by seeking clarification on some of the impressions in our earlier report.First that you wanted a better Senate position. But you were given Special Duties Committee; that you didn’t see it as good enough.. What’s your impression of this?
A: Well, it’s a wrong impression, because Special Duties Committee is a Standing Committee, and has been there much much earlier.A standing committee is one of the most important committees of the senate.So I don’t think it is a good impression that your paper or your reporter has in that respect.
Q..What makes the Special Duties Committee unique?
A: Special Duty in our Order Book is all-encompassing.It has a lot more areas of paying attention to.So for me, it is one of the most important committees.As a matter of fact, any standing committee is a very important committee of the Senate…For me as chairman of Senate Committee on Special Duties, it is a wonderful Committee, wonderful assignment and it is a wrong impression to think (otherwise).
Q: You feel our story itself was not fair to you. Can you react to some aspects you feel you were wrongly portrayed?
A: Well, like I have said, one of the things is that I didn’t lobby to become either the chairman or member of the senate committee on banking. I don’t think it is fair for anyone to think that I have done that. Also, for one to think I lobbied not because I want to make good laws, you know, but because I had some personal interest is also very unfair to me.It is not right.It is an unfair impression, because how would you know. That I am exploiting it for my personal benefit, what for?
Q: The report was about what seemed like a looming power tussle at NIRSAL, giving the impression that a woman, who happens to be you wife is seeking to dislodge the incumbent and probably with her connection to you, that you are using you position to help her get to that post of MD.What exactly is the true position?
A: How will that be true? How? She is just an AGM.The MD of NIRSAL, you know gave her that position.
The MD of NIRSAL gave her that position. How would she come to be more powerful, I mean to even have a tussle between her and the MD when there are even executive directors in between. So I don’t think it is also a fair relecttion or a fair representation, that there was a power tussle.Power tussle between who and who?
Q:Are you saying categorically that you are not lobbying to make your wife MD of NIRSAL?
A:Why should I lobby?I have reason to lobby, what for? I met her there.She is a staff of NIRSAL.I didn’t bring her to NIRSAL.I mean who made her Assistant General Manager? Is it not the present MD? So why should I lobby for me to make her MD?
Q: As a senator overseeing this kind of agency, what is actually the problem? What could be the source of this kind of insinuations that are coming to the media?
A:I don’t know.Like inside your story,there are areas in which it was insinuated that some insiders that may be leaking some insiders of these issues. For me,I don’t even discuss NIRSAL in my house. I don’t. For me what is it? Why should I discuss?
Q:You don’t discuss your wife’s office in the house?
A:Because I don’t allow her to discuss my office. My office is my office. Her office is her office.
Q: So where is this impression coming from that you are lobbying to make her MD?
A:That is what I have said I don’t know where the impression came from.I don’t know.I wish your reporter would have dug deeper to find out oh , if he is lobbying ,why should he lobby? How is he lobbying? Is it that Iam very close to the people, that I’m close to the Central Bank Governor? I cannot remember when last I even saw the Governor of CBN nor even talk to him and to lobby, because they are the people who are making the MDs.Or is it the Villa? Who do I know in the Villa outside official (work)?How many Senators have access to President Muha!madu Buhari to go and lobby? And is he even the kind of person that you are going to lobby and say okay remove this and put my wife?That story has actually not captured whatever, it must have other ulterior motive and I think it is only your reporter that can be able to tell us really what is the motive?
Q:What do you suspect is the reason behind this?
A I don’t know…When did this report come this report came I think February or so if I remember very well.I cannot really do a speculation to it because it was shocking to me for somebody to sit down and concoct this kind of thing and say this is what is happening,this is what has happened, this one will happen.
Q:For me it is very important that Iam having this kind of interaction with you for you to actually get us know what you think is the fact and debunk what you think is not correct.
A:That is what Iam saying.If you ask me what is behind this? I don’t know. I don’t know what will give somebody an impression to say that Iam lobbying for my wife to become MD of NIRSAL
Q: Why even me ,Iam shocked at your response is that there was a time a protest was staged at the Senate and it was also said probably you organised it.I was wondering if there is nothing, why would anybody be linking anything like that to you sir?
A: Beautiful. When that protest took place,I was not even in this country. Point number two, it was not the first protest. So many protests have taken place in the past. So why will this one be linked to me? How? In what way? Am I a farmer? Have I borrowed money? After all what they say in their own write up, the people are not happy, the rice importers are not happy with what NIRSAL is doing. Iam not an importer of rice. So maybe they are just imagining things. Or the MD of NIRSAL is not in a good position to do certain things, so, the question should be to him.
Q: As distinguished senator, what do you think exactly is happening,I mean from your insider point of view,because if there is nothing wrong, this kind of report will not be coming out..What exactly is the problem?
A:You see, I wouldn’t want to speculate because as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, if I have my facts and figures, I will tell you. I will not hide it .I don’t have the facts.and figures to tell you precisely how NIRSAL is being run.
Q: .How do we put an end to this kind of speculations especially since it is being linked to your wife?
A:This is why Iam saying. You know this thing (answer to your question), has to come from the MD of NIRSAL. Yes go and interview the MD of NIRSAL because you are linking my wife to NIRSAL and you are speculating that it is power tussle.Why should there be power tussle between my wife and MD of NIRSAL? What for? Is it between MD of NIRSAL and myself power tussle or between or between MD and my wife,why should there be power tussle?
Q: One clear fact I have gotten from you is that your wife is not a threat to anybody and you are not a threat to anybody there, that all these speculations are not true
A: The speculations are very very faulty, they are baseless, they are unfounded and I fail to understand what the motive is.
Q: Is there any other issue in the report you like to correct?
A: (Quotes from story, the assertion that) ‘the ambitious senator will certainly do what he wants to do to achieve his family’s objective’. What is my family’s objective? I have no objective? I have no objective to make my wife MD.What for? To look for more trouble? Do you know what it means for your wife to become an MD? And then look at this: quotes, ” that it is an opportunity too tempting to let go for a man who suddenly found himself..’ This is a very very unfair assessment of me .I told you,I have been up to Assistant General Manager in ICON Merchant Bank as far back as 1996.So I have been comfortable. I have been running my consultancy. I work as a pre-shipment inspector, so why would anyone say I suddenly found myself. Suddenly? So Iam not capable to become Senator? Suddenly. So I need the motive. What is the motive that one will tell me that suddenly, I have become so important.Of course, every Senator in this country is very very important.
And look at this wrong thing, that your paper has said, quotes: ” prior to becoming Senator of the Federal Republic, he was an ICON Limited Officer” .It’s wrong.I worked in ICON,but prior to me becoming Senator, I was not an ICON Limited officer.It’s wrong,it’s incorrect. It is a terrible misinformation. After I left ICON, your report said later ” he later worked at Ministry of Finance.Which Ministry of Finance? After I left ICON in 1996, then I went to Ministry of Finance to work?
Q: So what is the correct sequence of events?
A: They have reversed the whole thing. I graduated 1980.I finished my NYSC 1981.I started my job as a Planning officer in Ministry of Finance, Gongola State .After some few months I left, I went to University of Maiduguri as Graduate Assistant .From there, I went to do my Master’s degree, came back and I joined ICON Merchant Bank as an Officer .From there I grew to the level of Assistant General Manager.And when ICON was liquidated, I formed a company that is called Global Inspection Services. We had our license and we did our pre-shipment inspection for three years.Year 2000 our contract was revoked. Since then,I have been doing my own consultancy until 2014 when I decided to venture into politics. So they(your reporter) reversed the whole thing. You see ” He later worked at the Ministry of Finance”. It is not later,it is the first thing I have done. Continues quoting “where he was a planning officer. He thereafter, became graduate assistant at the University of Maiduguri and later got promoted to the position of Assistant lecturer.They reversed the whole thing. So it’s like somebody telling your reporter, somebody that does not know Yusuf,telling your reporter, this is this about Yusuf and your reporter just carried it wholly . I thought he would say let me go and see this Senator Yusuf; this is what somebody told me about him, let me go and find out about him. Let me go and find out, is it true? I think that is what should have been rather than to tarnish the image of your paper by writing something that is false. These statements are false.
Q: So can you just correct them now.
A: This is what I have given you the correction .I graduated 1980.1981 I finished my NYSC, I joined Ministry of Finance in Gongola State. After some few months, I left, I went to the University of Maiduguri(as) graduate assistant. From there,I went and did my Masters, came back.In 1984,I joined ICON Merchant Bank as an officer and therefore grew to the position of Assistant General Manager and Area Manager of ICON Merchant Bank in Abuja here as far back as 1996.When the bank was liquidated, I left.I joined Global Inspection Services, as an Executive Director, and there we worked for three years, our contract was terminated. So we left.I dusted my papers and then started running my own consultancy, Subran Investment Limited…
(To be concluded. Watch out for the revealing PART TWO which will be published Tuesday April 19, 2020)