The Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, Nta Ekpo recently spoke to PREMIUM TIMES’ Musikilu Mojeed, Festus Owete and Idris Ibrahim, on the activities of the commission. He explains what the commission is doing with about 32 petitions against former state governors, what it will do with petition against President Muhammadu Buhari and other issues. Excerpts:
PT: We are surprised to find you here. There was a newspaper report that you were fired. So, what happened?
Ekpo: First, let me, on a lighter note, state that my name is Ekpo, which in my language is spirit. Those who concocted the story probably were thinking about the masquerade that you can fire. It’s all part of the corruption fighting back. As a matter of fact, they use different tactics, if they try one (and) it is not working, they try different ways. But the consequences for the country is enormous because these are things that are circulated internationally, on the internet. Much more serious countries desirous of doing business with Nigeria keep a tab on what is happening in our country and when they see such information, they are bound to be alarmed. And indeed, quite a number of country were alarmed and made calls and they discovered it was all a hoax. That also brings to play whether they should believe the information coming out of Nigeria. So whatever group is doing what they think they are doing was not looking at the bigger picture and then the mass media that let themselves to be used must have by now learnt the great cost to themselves, the damage they got in terms of credibility in terms of the reports coming out from their stable. So you must double check these things. Yes, everybody wants to sell their newspapers and wants to grab media attention, but you must not do so at the expense of the image of your country and the persons you are trying to pull down. I didn’t want to go to court.
PT: But are you anywhere near the end of your tenure?
Ekpo: My tenure actually started in 2012 after I was sworn in by the president for a five-year term. So it’s something that is easy to calculate. The people who did that were totally mischievous or ignorant or both. But it served a useful purpose as far as I was concern. It also got to a point that people were writing a lot of things and we insist in ICPC of verifying sources. It has shown that we’ve always been on the right track. We insist that you don’t take hook, line and sinker whatever we see in the social media and that we must verify. That also directs the way we operate in line with our Act that we do not disclose investigations that are going on in ICPC until it is in court.
PT: Did you suspect anybody or people who might be responsible for it because you said it was corruption fighting back?
Ekpo: Yes, it was. Normally, we keep records of petitions like this and when misleading stories like this come out and it tends to coincide with when we are doing major investigations about politically-exposed persons. Once in a while they have internal persons who have their own grievances as to what they perceived to be their rights or that they were disciplined. As a matter of fact, at that period before the members of the Board members left at the end of their tenure, we had disciplined quite a number of personnel of this commission for act of indiscipline and some actually had their appointments terminated. So, if you know you are doing the right thing, don’t just get bordered at all. And mind you, there is nothing you will talk about chief executives of organisations like us that will not be investigated by other relevant agencies.
PT: At the time the president was busy changing heads of agencies, was it contemplated at the highest level that you should also be removed. Or was it that maybe they later changed their minds?
Ekpo: Government doesn’t work that way. Government is a very responsible creation and each type of office in this nation, is regulated by statute or constitutionally. You cannot, for example, wake up and say ‘I don’t like the face of the governor of X state and so let’s write a petition that his tenure is over.’ It is a constitutional process and it is clearly spelt out. So it didn’t only happened here. We saw it as a general trend and so we have investigated such trend. We discount such things when we are doing our investigations and a few of these processes have….when you now invite the petitioners to come and state clearly what you mean at that point you won’t find anybody.
PT: Now your tenure is coming to an end this year. You’ve been here for almost five years now, how has it been so far fighting corruption in Nigeria?
Ekpo: First and foremost, if you need to fight corruption in Nigeria, you need a vehicle that you will use to fight corruption. And so, the very first thing I did with my Board was to look at the state of the vehicle. Can it take us to where we are going to? We did a thorough analysis of the vehicle, did a road map (and) we know where we want to terminate our fight. And so between where we are today and where we should get to we designed a Strategic Action Plan 2013-2017. It was a five-year development plan. We put in focus exactly what we wanted to do and then we look at what are, the requirements in terms of personnel, materials, funding, then did stock taking, where is Nigeria today in terms of corruption and we came out with our Strategic Action Plan. We did it in two ways first. We had in-house analysis by the Board and then we also asked the DFID, which is an organ of the United Kingdom, to do a similar thing for us. We look at the two reports and they virtually tallied and we got the two together and went into a retreat to train everybody as to what the goals were and what the targets were. I am happy to state that the first thing we realised was that we needed to work on the vehicle itself. We needed to work on ICPC itself. There was a crisis of identity which we had to resolve. Was it really a civil service structure or law enforcement body? And the Act was very clear that it was supposed to be a law enforcement agency. So we had to do massive re-training and to get the people to understand what they were supposed to be doing. And then the origins of the commission was that all the investigative departments had been headed by police personnel seconded from the Nigeria Police Force. We had officers from the DSS, Immigration and other sister agencies who came to help start up the place. They came with the ethos and the operational processes of their own bodies. So, first thing I did was to design an entirely anti-corruption process that tallies with what is there internationally with other anti-corruption agencies. And so we did massive training of our staff internationally in 2012. I think I did more training in 2012 internationally than the first 11 years of this commission’s existence. We sent our people to the best anti-corruption academies everywhere in the world and they came back. We refashioned our thinking process. And I got all the offices and departments headed by indigenous ICPC trained staff. And from 2012 I am happy to say that the head of investigation of ICPC is an ICPC staff, no more police. So, we started beating out our own processes which has really paid off. We still continue to do our collaboration in training our personnel locally with the Nigerian intelligence agencies, the SSS school, the police academies etc. But we have designed our own processes and that now gave me the thought of continuity on how to I sustain these kind of training. This is because it will cost a lot of money sending people out. I now look at the possibility of starting off an anti-corruption academy. It was there in the beginning but not actually utilized the way I conceived of it. So, I had the Board’s approval. We kick-started what we envisaged to be an international academy, same standard that you will meet anywhere in the world. We started drawing up operational guidelines for different departments and then we looked at computerizing all the processes in the commission, particularly file management. What I came in here to see was that you won’t be able to get a file from the petition registry if the petition register was not around, just like in the court system, you cannot get a file. And I said no, you cannot be held to ransom like that. We started computerizing the place. I am happy to state that today, our petition registry ranks amongst the best in the world. We’ve scanned every petition file from 2001 (inception of this commission) to date, electronic format. So even if you steal any of our petition files, I have the electronic format there and that is why at one time when we had this sensational stories that the files of 36 state governors were missing in our office, it was all a joke because no such thing exist and it can’t happen here.
So, we’ve gone ahead to computerize human resources processes because based on my experience investigating pension matters, the massive looting of pension funds was promoted by the man to man contact that was running the whole system. It was not a mechanized process, starting from when you join your employment. Let me simplify that. You come into ICPC and we take an electronic history of yourself, including your biometrics and the picture, finger print, just like you are, and we keep updating your records, promotions, leave, number of children and the rest until you retire. All I need to do is to sign an electronic copy of your entire history here to the pension body and your pension manager. It is not the right thing for those pension managers to come and begin to ask me the pensioner five years down the line or 10 years down the line “let me see your letter of first appointment or let me see your promotion letter”. The man didn’t employ himself; he was employed by somebody. So, it is that somebody who should tell you that this is the person I employed and that he was 26 when I employed him and he retired as so-so age after 35 years of service; this is how he looks like now; this is the number of children he has; this is the number of wife or wives. All your data can be checked electronically here. So that’s my concept of what pension management supposed to be so I started with the commission. And I have sold this idea to the pension’s body because I am looking at a situation where in future when we transmit such information to the pension bodies, they will also laisse with the banks where you will be getting your monies. So this issues of you coming every six months or every three months just to do verification will not arise because the same information that your bank would have is what the pension bodies have, which you used in opening your account. All the bank needs to do on behalf of the pension’s body, is to say ‘every time you come to pick your money, at least every quarter, you will do your finger printing.’ Even if you can’t come to the bank to do it Nigeria has gone way ahead now judging from the experience of voters’ registration where you have the equipment for checking your biometrics during registration. So, the banks can deploy this and ask a bank officer ‘please go to this man’s house, let him appoint his hand prints there.’ So it is transmitted from that equipment direct to headquarters and it shows that the man is alive. Do you know why I am saying this? We arrested somebody in Port Harcourt last month who went to a late pensioner’s house, met the family and collected the particulars of the dead pensioner and went for verification. This means that if we had not arrested him – because the pension transitional department had assigned somebody to go along with them – the dead man would still have been collecting pension in another pensioner’s life who is dead. But if you do this electronically, it will remove the whole process that is now tied to BVN and over time you will not even need to have verification exercises of people going round to do verification because wherever he collected his money from can do that automatically.
PT: With all that you’ve done in overhauling the system, what concrete result in terms of the actual mandate in corruption fighting can we say you have got?
Ekpo: The immediate mandate is that the quality of the cases going to the court has improved, I have had more convictions since coming in than previously. We’ve had a lot more petitions coming in because I have introduced electronic processes for reporting petitions to the commission. I have introduced a toll free line so that you don’t have to use your money to call us. If you call us with the line you will not be charged.
PT: So if I call the toll free line there will be somebody to pick it now?
Ekpo: Yes, there is a department that is manned during work hours. Even when we close the machine takes over and records whatever you want to say. When they come back in the morning they will view that.
PT: And also you can file a petition online?
Ekpo: You can file a petition on firstname.lastname@example.org without stepping in here from anywhere in the world.
PT: So in a nutshell you are saying you’ve met your vision, you have achieved your vision, your strategic plan?
Ekpo: We are going to give you all the statistics year by year to show the increase of cases.
PT: You talked about convictions, do you have an idea of how many convictions you have had? Can you tell us some key cases that you are proud of, that you were able to resolve during this period?
Ekpo: Yes, let me even tell you – one major area that I introduced which has not been looked at in the previous years was in the area of visa acquisition. You know that is where Nigeria had a lot of bad records.
Ekpo: A lot of people want to leave the country for various reasons, good and bad. But they have to acquire the visa of the country they are going to. In the first instance, if they are not going there as legal immigrant, they will start devising processes that were not internationally accepted. It’s either by forging bank documents, employment documents claiming to work in one ministry or the other whereas you never worked anywhere before and attaching fictitious bank statements, actually correct bank statements of people which you have stolen. How did you steal it? You walk into a business center to produce your bank statement in order to attach to your valid visa request. The man who is doing the photocopy is going to be around the embassy area. The people doing the photocopy will give you the copy you need, but you don’t know that they have kept aside one copy which they sell to people who are interested in that same bank account. So when you send that bank account attached with the fraudster’s own request, if the embassy decided to do a check they will check and say yes the person supporting him has money and meanwhile you don’t even know that your bank statement has been used. So I discovered that this was a very serious aspect that was creating problems because most of the embassies turn down visa requests from Nigerians because they assume that most are fraught with illegal dealings. So I needed to return that respect. Two, government officials who traveled abroad do not need to appear for interviews in most embassies because they issue what is known as note verbale. It is an internationally accepted process. It’s like saying ‘this is our servant, officer working for Nigeria, whether federal government or state government, we vouch for him. It comes from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the embassy. Now people who have never worked in the system, including certain civil servants who are not entitled to that documentation find ways of getting those documents and attach them to their visa. They were getting the visas. I will give you a small example. If I want to send 10 staff for training in the UK and I write to the British High Commission that the following 10 staff will be going for training. But before that letter gets to the embassy, I would have had to write it though foreign affairs and get a covering letter to say yes these are people known to us federal government, please issue visa.
On sighting that, the High Commission will issue without questions asked. But they now discovered that after the training, maybe only five will comeback. Why would civil servants not comeback? And they do a cross check and discovered that out of the five, maybe two are tailors. So, next time you send a note verbale, they will want to say ‘no, we are not too sure about this.’ It is the highest level of discordance for a country to doubt your documents. So I said I was going to key into that and as I speak to you, we’ve had a lot of convictions, over 20, in that respect of visa racketeering. The embassies are now very happy because we helped them clean up that system. We brought back respect for Nigeria in that area. How are these things done? The protocol officer is the person who will take an approval to the federal ministry of foreign affairs. From there it will go to the embassy. Now if I was looking at people who are prone to fraud who do you think I will be looking at? It’s people in finance or procurement? Would you be looking at the principal officers or investigators? Will you be looking at the protocol officer? Obviously no! But for each person they put on that list maybe I am sending five and they send 10, you will have five extra and they charge these people N1.5 million each to get a visa. A lot of business men will gladly pay N1.5 million to get a visa.
PT: So, the document that you signed they have to redo it?
Ekpo: They will redo it and fake your signature and so you are sitting down thinking that five of my people are what I have sent whereas from the list in the embassy you have 10. So, for that act alone the protocol man would have made N7.5 million under your signature. Now this was causing a lot of problem but today I can tell you at the whiff of any suspicion, the embassy calls ICPC. Like I have always said these are areas you don’t make noise about and should not make noise because no embassy or high commission is interested in that kind of publicity. But I am happy to state that documentations in terms of visa racketeering has gone down tremendously. I think in 2013 we seized over 300 passports from this visa scam. If you google you will find it. And we also advised the embassy on steps they should take to make sure that their visa application processes are simplified and I am happy to state that the UK government found this advice very useful and they sent somebody here to thank the commission. And because of the advice we gave them they have changed visa request processes online world over. Because of the advice we give from ICPC and that made them to donate to ICPC last year December a forgery detecting machine. So, if you get any forged document related to banks or employment and all kinds, we can easily analyse that in ICPC today courtesy of our intervention.
PT: Apart from this visa racketeering area, which other major area have you got involved in?
Ekpo: One major other areas we got involved in was at the airport which is the first port of call for anybody coming into Nigeria. You know what is happening at the airport. Everybody used to make demands working at the airport. Let me not say everybody. A lot of staff working there always made demands and extorted travelers. ICPC got involved, we swung into action and arrested quite a number of people in a mid-night operation. And if you go to Lagos airport today which was very notorious, you can hardly find such activities which have been acclaimed by the federal ministry of transport and aviation. If you google it you will see the responses by the permanent secretary and the few travelers who have been interviewed you hardly find anybody making demands again.
PT: Do you get convictions?
Ekpo: Yes, we sometimes have these matters lying in the court but the mere fact that arrest was done in the public by people in uniform sent the right message and then we are happy with the outcome. We also got involved in ports administration. You know the Nigerian Ports have had a stranglehold on the entire economy because of massive graft. So the International Maritime Coalition complained and sent a petition to ICPC and we were involved. We carried out what is known as the corruption risk assessment of the Nigerian Ports and then at the end of that exercise we’ve come up with standard operational platforms where every operation of the ports is captured on one portal. So, any person who is coming to Nigeria and he is doing business with our ports goes straight to the portal. And that was reported internationally as one of the best initiatives in the anti-corruption fight in this country. That portal was launched by the vice president of Nigeria last year.
PT: Was that portal your own initiative?
Ekpo: It was ICPC initiative, Corruption Risk Assessment reports. We did training. Prior to that we had done the training of what is known as corruption risk assessors. We brought people to come from different agencies – EFCC, Code of Conduct, Civil Society Organisations etc and did the training under the UNDP. We were the first country in the world to do that kind of training. When we run initiatives like this, we bring some of these people we have trained to put in that program to run that training. Currently we are looking at the gains of the outcome of that intervention we did with the Nigerian Ports Authority that involves all the agencies working at the Port. What I did here was pro-activeness. We don’t wait for petitions to come in. We divided our country into sectors.
PT: Does the law allow that?
Ekpo: Yes. We did an analyses of all the petitions that came in and put them sector by sector and see which is the sector that has the highest number of petitions and why are these petitions coming. And we saw that education sector surprisingly had the highest level of petitions coming to the commission and so we look at the education sector and say which part of the education sector? We have primary, secondary and tertiary. We saw that the huge chunk came from the tertiary. In tertiary, we have polytechnics, universities and college of education. So, which one? And we said which one is leading and we saw universities were ahead. This is how we do our analysis. So we now focused on universities and say ok fine do we wait for petitions to be coming in or we can address the petitions by beginning to stop them from happening. So we set up what was known as Universities System Study and Review Exercise (USSR). I set up a team and brought eminent professors from the National Universities Commission, top investigators from ICPC and got a chair for that committee who was former executive secretary of NUC, Professor Okebukola. They did a pilot study of corruption in the university sector and they had three pilot universities – one private, one state and one federal. North, South and Central. And the result came out which showed us the exact type of corruption activities that are happening in the university sector. Now we knew and so we now addressed strategies on how to deal with does universities. Don’t forget that before then NUC had always been shouting about illegal degree awarding institutions which they published but nobody took action. The first thing ICPC did was to target those ones. And in the first outcome of that study was to shutdown 26 of those illegal degree awarding institutions in Nigeria. We did the operation nationwide and took Thursday and Friday. We took all of them by surprise. We are still in court with quite a number of them. We seize the properties, lock the bank accounts. Between 2013, 2014 and today you will not hear of illegal degree awarding institutions.
PT: I want you to talk about the investigations on politically-exposed persons. How did you handle that? What were your major investigations and conviction regarding the exposed persons?
Ekpo: We’ve done quite a substantial lot in that respect because we needed to also understand the categories of persons we are dealing with. So we did analysis of the kind of petitions that are coming in. What kind of petitions come in about politically-exposed persons? Basic – abuse of public office for private gain. And that private gain can be for members of your political party, family members, friends etc. And so how were they able to do this? So when you have this analysis, you can now begin to address the problems starting from the local government level. We saw that a lot of abuse was happening because of the structures that the states and the federal have. You have the parliament at the federal level sitting to appropriate the budget. You have it at the state level, but at the local government level it is there but it is hardly ever used. The legislative body is there but totally underdeveloped. So we have now designed processes to address those particular issues. And in order for us not to have too many argument about whether we have prosecuted or not, I had to introduce what is known as the ICPC Law Report for the first time ever this place was set up. I have three volumes now.
PT: Detailing reports?
Ekpo: Yes, detailing all the cases that are worthy of note. You know corruption cases are new in Nigeria. They are not the general criminal kind of cases. So these are pronouncements of judges, some have gone to Supreme Court. So, we selected some of the best and included them. In order to keep permanent records, I compiled all the cases ICPC had been involved in from 2001 to date. If you go to our website you will see all. I published the first part as part one. I think that was 2015. We published several pages to let everybody know that this is what is going on. It has never been done before. I had to come in and review some of the cases we had against chief executives of states and we filed the ones that we needed to file. This runs into several pages. We’ve since published the part one and part two on the internet for everybody to follow the processes. We update every week showing the name of the court and the judge who is involved in the process.
PT: Is there any high profile case involving any of the former governors and what is the status of such cases?
Ekpo: Sure. One that I can tell you immediately because it is in court is the former Zamfara State governor. It is in court and is ongoing.
PT: A lot of people have been canvassing the establishment of anti-corruption court apparently because of frustration encountered when prosecuting these cases, do you think there is need for it?
Ekpo: Who says I might not face frustration if we have that? It is a matter of what you expect of the court system. Have you provided the court with what should be there and they have not performed? Every state has two corruption judges looking at corruption matters. Every state must give that assignment to two judges, it has always been there. But we should also be realistic and ask ourselves – what is holding back administration of criminal justice physically? Take a look at the court premises itself, the facilities available and then take a look and see Lagos State that has taken concrete steps to modernize their court system, you will see that the volume of cases they handle per day has increased. These are studies that can be done. I have gone to court outside of this country where the judge sits down and he is looking at his television monitor. Everything is televised; there is a tele-reporter and as we speak he is converting your speech to words and typed out. The judge has a judge-assistant who normally has a masters, for example, in the legal studies. So, when you are citing cases that legal assistant is busy researching all those cases immediately and letting him know on his screen what the issues that are arising. So if you want a verbatim report of the proceedings at the end of that day, they will give it to you. But here you will now find somebody sitting down and taking long hand and then the fan is tweaking and the airconditioner is not working, where you have power supply in the first instance. So we must be ready to modernize our court systems. In terms of laws, we have started monetizing our processes where the past interlocutory induction will take you from the court of first instance to Supreme Court and back. When you come back they take another issue and protest. We had one case that went up to Supreme Court for about seven years came back just on objections alone. You can have fast track courts but provide all the necessary amenities that would make them fast track. You can also turn your current court system into fast track court by providing the same amenities. Everybody will see the results.
PT: Still on the former governors, there were several cases against former governors. What was the status of those cases when you came and what happened to those cases?
Ekpo: If you read the ICPC Act, as of the time all those petitions came in against those governors, it says that when a petition is received against a governor, the commission should pass that with an affidavit to the Chief Justice of Nigeria who will set up a special council to investigate the matter. When people say so many cases came in and they were not attended to, particularly of those governors, they didn’t read the Act. So when I came in that was the first thing I did. I read the Act and then asked questions. All those things were sent to the sitting Chief Justice of Nigeria then. And at the time they were to be investigated came the problem of who was to fund it. They said they didn’t have money and the commission should provide the funds but the commission didn’t have the funds. As a matter of fact, the commission went ahead to provide a special building for the special council here in this premises.
PT: So how many of such cases you were involved?
Ekpo: I think about 32 if I am not mistaken. I came here I saw all the affidavits.
PT: So, they still haven’t provided funding for it?
Ekpo: They didn’t provide the funding. Note that it was the special investigator that was to look at all this but what I have done now, I have taken a much more pro-active step by requesting an amendment of the ICPC Act that when such instances reoccur, the matters should have preliminary investigations by ICPC because we have the personnel that can do the investigations. When we are satisfied with the investigation we can now transmit that to the CJN if he wants to continue with that process.
PT: So, how does that compare with the former Zamfara governor who is being tried?
Ekpo: What happened in his own case was that we had been looking at other matters. Two things can happen. We can begin an investigation on other officials pending when you don’t have immunity which is exactly what I am doing in this commission today. I begin an investigation round. So in his own case we had done that investigation and when he no longer had immunity, because it started even before I came in looking at some of those issues, we now firmed it up and charged it. For all other matters, it is ongoing now. It needs to be addressed because they are no longer in government. There are some instances we have been able to get the officials involved and ‘they say no I didn’t take that decision on my own, it was the governor who directed me.’ So, we investigate such matters.
PT: So, the point I am making is that these people are no longer in office, do you still need to go that route of taking the case to the Chief Justice of Nigeria?
Ekpo: No you don’t need that anymore and that is why I commenced looking at quite a number of those issues and incidentally some of these issues were also in different sister agencies and the police, for example.
PT: Corruption is still very rampant in the police, are you not looking at it?
Ekpo: Well, you must know that the police have over 300,000 personnel and even if one per cent of that number are the ones perpetrating the problems you see it will still give a bad name to that institution. But I am happy to note that the chief executives of the police force, at least the immediate past one and the current one, have taken very clear steps as to force guidelines which we have been providing intelligence to, that should be able to bring down the perceived rate of corruption. You must also ask – who are the victims? It is mostly on the roads where people have money extorted from them for not having the right things. Now, if you had the right things, would your voice not be stronger to resist that corruption and to report? So, we must begin to address the victim, the receiver and the giver. That is not to accept that what the few police personnel are doing outside is correct. I am happy that in a few instances the relief has even come from the press where people take pictures and video shots of what is happening at the scene and you saw that the police took action immediately.
PT: if a petition comes before you against President Buhari, will you look into it?
Ekpo: What does the Act provide? He has immunity when he is in the office and what it says…. unless that law is change for me, is to say forward to the CJN. Until that law is amended, the president, the vice president, the governors and deputy governors have constitutionally immunity.
PT: The perception out there is that ICPC is a dog that cannot bite and so people hardly hear about you. Why are you not as loud as the EFCC?
Ekpo: Well, in most compounds that I know of there are two types of dogs. If you go to Europe, when you have natural disaster happen, maybe landslide or snowfall or a building collapsed, don’t they use dogs? They used dogs to try to sniff if people are alive. Those dogs that you have been watching on TV, are they barking? They don’t bark but they still achieve the essence of identifying where people are buried in the system. So whether you take a dog that does not bark and it delivers what you want and the one that barks but does not deliver what you want, I don’t know…..If I want a guard dog in my compound the major function is to bark when a thief is coming in the night. So, its job is to bark. But if I am detective and somebody has killed somebody and I need to trace the blood and I use sniffer dog, that sniffer dog is not going to be barking and following the trail. That sniffer dog is following the training. It is not to bark but to follow that trail until you gets to where that person is hiding. So if you don’t understand the mandate and training of different dogs then you will be buying the wrong dog yourself. If you don’t understand the mandate of the ICPC, you will be wasting your time and energy comparing us with other agencies that are doing their own mandate. ICPC Act is very clear. You are not to bark. Go to section 64. It tells you that if you are investigating this thing, don’t go to the press or anybody. Until you have achieved what you want. Other agencies will say we have arrested the person who we suspect has done this and you parade them in the newspaper and on the TV and they clap for you. But that is not our mandate.
PT: That is why if the National Assembly wants to appropriate money they are likely to give you less money?
Ekpo: I think the National Assembly is beginning to see that our own brand is an acceptable brand internationally. I don’t know how you feel if at the end of the day I run your name through the gutter and I now find out that it is a mistaken identity. But you need that outward show for those who like the outward show.