Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Honourable Yakubu Dogara speaks with Group Politics Editor, TAIWO ADISA, on the state of nation, the feud between the executive and the legislature, herdsmen/farmers clashes and the necessity for local government autonomy among other issues. Excerpts:
SIR, the perception is that the executive and the legislature are not on the same page, what is your view on this?
As politicians, sometimes we don’t attack the issues frontally well, let me say from the foundation of the principle of separation of powers. It was never anticipated that the legislature and the executive would work harmoniously on a continuous basis. There would always be frictions. Where you have human and individual factors, even in a family that is the minutest of the unions, that is expressed in humanity, there is bound to be conflicts. In the relationship between the executive and the legislature, there will be conflicts; the only problem is that sometimes we cast conflicts as intricately bad. Conflicts may not be bad. As a matter of fact, sometimes conflicts are necessary for progress to be made. If you have a collection of conformists, chances are that they will never make progress. Even if they do, it will always relate to an existing order that is sustained over time. For you to have innovation and progress, people must be free to disagree, and it is only in disagreeing that progress is made.
When the legislature disagrees with the executive it is viewed as conflict, in most cases, that is the interpretation. Conflict, however, can be a source of expression or release of energy that can lead to transformation. In the 8th Assembly, we have had issues; certain issues that have pitched the executive against the legislature and we will continue to have them. But the point is that, as leaders, how do we interpret these issues? How do we overcome these issues in such a way that they lead to progress and advancement instead of retrogression? My own take, even as I’ve said that these conflicts will continue, is that the man, who propounded the doctrine of separation of powers, saw clearly through the lenses of time that these kinds of interphase would take place. He invented another mechanism of checks and balances and he knew that if these departments of government, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary are separated in a water-tight fashion, whereby they don’t relate, they don’t check each other, then the entire architecture of that system of government is bound to be static and there wouldn’t be progress. So he invented the mechanism of checks and balances. For instance, if parliament conceives a measure, the judiciary has no powers to stop it from exercising its functions. It’s only when they have exercised that the judiciary can now seize jurisdiction over whatever decision the parliament has taken and pronounce it either illegal, unconstitutional or thereabout. At the same time too, the executive cannot adopt a measure that entails that the parliament shouldn’t do its work. In the same vein, if the
judiciary is about to deliver on its job, the parliament cannot sit and say they are passing a legislation that alters the status quo or seeks to arrest the judgement. Our only interpretation of this separation of powers is that we should cooperate more as arms of government in the national interest, so that specifically we can deliver on the promises we made during the elections. Nigerians sacrificed a lot. It’s not been part of our history that the opposition defeats the party with the benefit of incumbency, the party that is in government, but it happened. So imagine the kind of sacrifices people made. So, that, therefore, means you don’t have liberty as a government. It doesn’t matter if it’s the executive, judiciary or legislature, but to close ranks and deliver on the promises that led people to sacrifice so much. So, that has been our own interpretation of the doctrine of separation of powers. Conflicts yes, we may have conflicts, but it shouldn’t endure to the level that it offsets the friendly relationship with the executive, which is necessary to deliver on the goals of governance. That is key.
In the House, in particular, I cannot remember any serious measure that the executive has brought, which the House has turned down. None. Because we don’t want to take the blame for being the stumbling block. In most cases, we overcome party differences and work together as one, because at the end of the day; if we fail, it’s not only the president that is going to be blamed, even we will share part of this blame. So in realisation of this responsibility that we owe to our people, we have, indeed, sometimes bent more than twice backwards in order to accommodate the executive. We have been working in that fashion; if there are difficulties or frictions, we leverage on our training as leaders to
overcome them for the general good and not just to promote ego, personal interests or sentiments, which will always lead to clashes among individuals and arms of government, thereby preventing us from delivering on the dividends of democracy.
Taking your position as number four in the hierarchy of national leadership, you are one of the leaders in the APC government. By May, your party will be two years in power, can you say that your party has not disappointed Nigerians?
I wouldn’t say that we have disappointed Nigerians. For you to come to that kind of conclusion, you’d have to take certain factors into consideration. Now, what was it that we met on ground? What is it that we have improved upon as a government? And what is it that we are seeking to do? I guess it is after looking at the whole gamut of these issues that you’ll be able to arrive at the decision whether we have disappointed Nigerians or not. You can’t talk of disappointment in a nature that is a value judgement, because it depends on the expectation; it’s only having an expectation, that you can be disappointed. For me, I can say that a lot has been achieved, even though unsung in most cases. In the context of our society, people want to see first-class roads, hospitals; they want to see the tangibles, but nobody places value on the intangibles. For us that come from the North-East, even some of us that live and work in Abuja, remember how dire this issue of terrorism was; we were all living on the throes of violence. The Police Headquarters here was bombed, the U.N Mission here in Abuja was bombed. Bombs exploded in Kaduna, Kano, Jos and in Nyanya as well and there was even threat of this mayhem being exported to the South-West and other regions of this country. If you look at it, we have exited from that. The biggest problem of democracy is that, with violence, you cannot take the benefits of democracy. Democracy as we practise it, presidential democracy, has three promises: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. The number one responsibility of government is the security and welfare of the citizens. That was what our democracy was failing to do; the basic and constitutional guarantee of governance, and we couldn’t provide security. We have gone very far in trying to tackle this issue of insurgency. As a matter of fact, all hostile spots have been liberated.
This government, through various interventions, has been able to ensure that the terrorists are not holding unto any spot of land. I believe this is one major thing that has given some hope to Nigerians for the very first time that we are in a position to overcome this problem; and it is critical, even if it’s for nothing else that our citizens in the North-East zone down to Abuja can move around more freely than before, that is something. Now, if you look at the battle against corruption, some may say it is one-sided, but the good thing is that, let’s start! And we have started. We are beginning to have results, and for the very first time public officials who even have the opportunity or window to misappropriate funds, the question that comes to their mind is: by the time I have taken this money, where am I going to take it first? Because anything could happen, so that to some extent has prevented people from engaging in the kind of looting of resources that we experienced in the past, at least sanity is returning. The economy was at a level whereby anything could have happened; it was heading south, no doubt about that. The only thing was that the signs were beginning to be apparent even though the conditions that later became the result of what happened were not there then. Dollar wasn’t exchanging for 400, prices of commodities hadn’t skyrocketed, but they were just things waiting to happen based on the fact that the price of the mainstay of our economy was going down and the fact that there was no savings and there was nothing we could do as a nation to earn forex, apart from just selling crude oil. There is virtually nothing we were exporting, so the crisis was just waiting to happen. And we went into this crisis because there were no known preventive policies to apply; it was just the result of the choice we had made in the past, and no one could run away from them. And the crisis hit us; we faced it. Even up till now, we are reeling in it. But at least we can begin to see the easing of those conditions and by the grace of God completely, as projected by most international financial institutions, we are going to exit this recession, which was very unfortunate in the first place. So, I think progress is being made on several fronts. Of course there are issues we have not totally eliminated or dealt with, issues of kidnapping, sundry criminalities.
In the Niger-Delta, thank God, through some mechanism of intervention, we can begin to see peace, I think as at today, we are doing 2.1 million barrels a day(of crude oil), which is in line with our economic goals. So at least we are making progress. One thing our people must know which I believe can be channeled by the media is that it is difficult for you to build. It is only when destroying that you find it very easy. The whole of this Abuja city, one device you can use to destroy this city within minutes or hours, but look at how many years it has taken us to be where we are today in this Federal Capital. So, progress is being made. A lot of people may not appreciate them, but the intangibles are really there. The fundamentals are very strong. Very strong and robust foundation has been laid and I believe all is left is to raise the structure and complete them. And I believe by the Grace of God, by the time we are done with the execution of this year’s budget, every Nigerian will now see the clear direction that we are heading to.
Mr Speaker, we’ll raise three straight issues. One, you talked about government having done well in exterminating terrorists, while government has done that, on the other hand, we have herdsmen ravaging almost every part of the country. I want your reaction to that. Two, some Nigerians think that there is corruption in the parliament; is there corruption in the House of Representatives? And the notion that the parliament cannot fight corruption without opening itself up to public scrutiny by making public its budget and running costs. One remembers there was a time you spoke of opening up the parliamentary budget; how soon can Nigerians expect this open parliament?
I know we have promised to open the books, and we will definitely open the books, certainly. I, however, don’t know in what form the corruption is said to be, but let me first say that parliament is not something that exists outside of Nigeria, and the issue of corruption itself is not something that can be eliminated completely out of any community, just like prostitution and other vices. But what you can do is to reduce it to the barest minimum, to a level that is almost seen as non-existent. In the advanced countries that we try so much to copy or speak so glowingly of what they have been able to achieve, it’s not that corruption has been eliminated 100 per cent. We have seen this hydra-headed monster called corruption rearing its head even in elections of certain jurisdictions. Clearly the signs are there, but our collective effort is that we reduce it to the barest minimum, anyone who thinks that he will eliminate corruption, I lack the English word to describe such a person, to eliminate it totally will amount to eliminating the totality of the human race. Because no human being is clothed in perfection. All we can do is to reduce it to the barest minimum. You can imagine a situation where we have the death penalty against vices like armed robbery. As you are shooting them, somebody is busy robbing somewhere. So sometimes you can’t phantom the nature of the human mind, because you think that by the time you apply the maximum punishment, people will run away screaming ‘if they catch you, they are going to kill you, I won’t do it.’ But as they are executing armed robbers, some people continue without care. Even when they are executing drug traffickers in some countries, more people are still doing it. So you see it’s a battle that we’ll continue to fight, there won’t come a day when Nigeria will sit and say: we have eliminated corruption, this is a perfect society, let’s work on. That is one notion we must discard. If we are ever going to achieve that, then there won’t be need for institutions like EFCC, ICPC, even the police. They have been fighting crime since the age of Nigeria, but there are still crimes, so the National Assembly is not an institution that exists on its own; it’s part of the society and I cannot say you cannot trace any iota of corruption to the affairs of the National Assembly. Honestly speaking, there could be cases, but the point is when we discover them, they should be properly be apportioned punishments not just to express dissent but punishment that is appropriate. As per the issue of budget, we all know that the National Assembly does not command more than 2 per cent of the national budget, budget for infrastructure, whether they are for bridges or building of hospitals. Whatever it is, is not embedded in National Assembly budget. The entire about 98 per cent of our nation’s resources is not spent by the National Assembly, but by other arms of government. But sometimes, our citizens focuses on that less than 2 per cent as if that is the bane of our progress in this country,; as if, if we use the money for National Assembly Nigeria would just become an advanced nation. It bothers me a lot, where you have 98 per cent resources, nobody bothers about them. Or maybe we have grown used to it, that as a matter of fact, money meant for housing, bridges, hospitals and agriculture can be misappropriated. But it’s just that 2 per cent they give to the National Assembly that nothing must happen to. I’m not defending the legislature; I have said if we detect corruption, we try as much as possible to apportion the kind of punishment that is capable of speaking loudly that we detest it and that we don’t want it to happen.
For us, since we represent the people, we get their opinion and represent them here. The people have said they want to know what we do with the entire budget that comes to the National Assembly; it’s not a problem. We have directed the management, and, hopefully, with the 2017 budget, this issue will come to a rest. Each agency that draws from the money appropriated for the National Assembly has been mandated to bring its budget and at the end of the day, when we are done, everything will be published, I can guarantee that 100 per cent. So we can end this discussion. When people see it, even if we are getting it wrong in any section, we will not run away from wise counsel. This is how best to do it, because we want to improve on standards and improve on the image of the National Assembly, because it is through that we can make the National Assembly very effective. When people have high regard for the institution, and we are aware of that responsibility, we will not shy away from it. Some people even claim that the entire money, like now what we get is N115 billion, hopefully it will go up this year, I’m not too sure. But it’s N115 billion now that is given to the entire National Assembly and National Assembly is an arm of government. Some aggregate this N115 billion and divide it by the number of senators and members of the House and say that is what we take home as our allowances; they call it jumbo! Is that the case? They fail to look at the bureaucracy; we have over 3,000 people working within this bureaucracy who are paid salaries, claims and entitlements all from this N115 billion. No one accounts with what happens to their money. The Senate President or Speaker doesn’t know what goes to them. Apart from that, we have the aides, each sitting member has five aides; senators have seven each so multiply five by 360 and see the number of aides, then seven by 109. They draw their salaries there, the trips and everything. The last count I made when I was chairman, House Services, we were budgeting N12 Billion for Legislative Aides a year. Then we have the National Assembly Service Commission; it’s an agency not even here. They have their offices outside. Unfortunately, they don’t even have permanent structures. They are paying rent where they are. I don’t know the number of staff they have, but they also take rent and all from the N115 billion. They have like 500 staff. We have commissioners representing the geopolitical zones, plus the chairman. All of them draw funds from here. Then we have NILS (National Institute for Legislative Studies). I’ll implore you to go to where NILS is building their headquarters, with a facility that will also serve as a university. Go and see what they have been able to achieve. You’ll be shocked. The headquarters is being built by Julius Berger. NILS draws funds from this N115 billion and they will account for it as well. We are going to put it there in the press. What do they do with the money given to them? Then we have the Public Complaints Commission. They don’t have any provision in the budget except from the funds they draw from us. So they will account for themselves. Then we have the National Assembly Budget and Research Office, just like you have the Congressional Budget Office in the U.S. Our goal is that they will be non-partisan in the analysis of annual budgets and they provide members with timely tools for debate and engagement across board with the executive when it comes to budgetary matters. Then we didn’t have them, but now we have them and they also draw funds from this N115 billion, . They will bring their budget and tell the world what they do with their money. At the end of the day, when we publish these details, a lot of people will be shocked, but it will be published. And I hope that will put paid to the perceived corruption in the National Assembly.
Sometimes, it’s even members of the House that raise the red flag about corruption in the system; for instance, look at the allegation of padding by Abdulmumini Jibrin. When you have these people saying all these, what else can come from the public?
Well, that is why it is good to engage in investigative journalism. We have so many journalist friends they can ask. For instance, they say members are paid N10 million a month, is it true? He was unable to bring forth evidence; he should have brought documents. He is a member; he should have brought his bank documents to prove that was he was being paid, very simple. But there was no shred of evidence to back any claim, other than I have said it. I can say anything and you know you can’t convict on the basis of one witness if you read Law, except in the exceptional case of the confession of a dying man, like if you are stabbing me and I am about to die and I said ‘Mr. Ahmed has killed me,’ that is taken to be the gospel truth. On that basis, someone could be convicted, because what is the motive for somebody dying to tell lies?
For the herdsmen, we have made it very clear and I think the president made it very clear that whether kidnappers, herdsmen or whoever commits an act of terrorism, they should be grouped as one. Anyone making war against innocent citizens of the country must be dealt with squarely as if he is a terrorist, even if he is not one. I don’t see the distinction between whomever that is making war against Nigerians or unleashing terror on innocent Nigerians. It doesn’t matter their description. And unfortunately what has not helped this issue is the fact that we have an extensive border. If you look at it, how many Customs and Immigration officers do we have? If they were able to join hands and line up across our borders, they wouldn’t even cover a quarter of our borders. And most of these people coming to unleash terror on Nigerians aren’t Nigerians themselves. So, these are serious security challenges that would be met with the same kind of force shown against Boko Haram and other terrorists. There is no distinction; Boko Haram makes war against innocent Nigerians, and anyone that makes war against innocent Nigerians or takes up arms against the Nation State, whether kidnapper, Avengers, herdsmen should be squarely dealt with. That is our position as a parliament, we have said it frequently and we will keep re-echoing that.
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There have been reports of defection of lawmakers from one party to the other, with the former political parties always threatening to recall those affected. What is your view on defection?
On the issue of defection, you’ll agree with me that the role of democracy is freedom; freedom of choice and you can’t just imbibe something not working for you and hold it unto death. Democracy deals with freedom, even though in some cases the freedom may be circumscribed, and most freedoms are, just as the fact that you are free to waive your hands to the high heavens, as long as it doesn’t touch my nose, because then it becomes trespass to my person. So, freedom to defect is circumscribed to the provision in the Constitution that states that there must be conditions in your political party that gives you the latitude to decide to cross-carpet. If those conditions are not there and you defect, you lose your seat; it’s clearly provided for in the Constitution. But where you have a political party that is factionalised, this faction fighting this faction, they are in court and pronouncements are being made, if you are a lover of peace and you don’t want to belong to faction A or B, where are you? Do you have a party? You must embrace A or B, whichever way you go; you haven’t escaped. But defecting is really is not good, especially when people gravitate towards the ruling party, because at the end of the day if care is not taken, you end up with a one-party state and in most one-party states you know what happens. The conditions for the actual practice of democracy won’t be there, in the sense that there is no opposition, so a group of people can adopt whatever model they want to adopt and implement. So, politics of opposition gives life democracy and brings quality to debate and government programmes. But the point is that we cannot legislate for individuals to die in certain political parties; if they feel that whatever they belong to will kill them, they have the right to escape for their political lives.
The Senate resolved that the Comptroller-General is not fit to be in office and came out with an interesting phrase to write the House of Representatives to make it binding; what is your take on this? How comfortable is the National Assembly with the level of compliance to their resolutions by the Executive? It is obvious that the House of Reps is more on the same page with the Executive than the Senate; are the Reps trying to maintain a mediatory role between the Executive and the Legislature?
On the resolution concerning the CG of Customs, whether the House is on the same page with the Senate or the Executive, I can’t speak for the House. The House will have to speak for itself through a resolution of the House. But one thing I have to say is that we work closely with the Senate and if we don’t do that, we won’t achieve any progress as an arm of government. The reason being that in a bicameral legislature, an issue that dies in one chamber is almost automatically dead in the other chamber. And if we do not find a common ground to work with the Senate, it means so many measures will either stagnate or die at the level of the National Assembly. I believe that the matter relating to the circumstances that led to the Senate’s decision may come up on the floor of the House and I cannot pre-judge what the outcome of the debate will be; if I do that, it wouldn’t even be fair and it won’t be right for me to preside over it. I would have to allow someone else, because I’ve formed an opinion. But we are lawmakers and we look at the books and sometimes I’ve even encouraged that in most cases, look at the laws yourselves and try to educate citizens on what the laws are. In Britain and the U.S, by the time you have a bill passed, you’ll see that so many newspapers will analyse the Bill, in fact to the extent that the unenlightened or uneducated of the society will understand what the bill is. This one concerning the Customs, you don’t bother too much about what the Senate is saying or not, what should bother you is the law. Do your own research as journalists, what is the law saying? Could it be that the Senate is misinterpreting the law? You can speak to some lawyers or some judges on the matter and then render your own opinion.
Are you satisfied with the level of compliance with National Assembly resolutions?
As to whether we are satisfied with the level of compliance with our resolutions, the answer is no, and that is why in the last House, we established a committee known as the Committee on Legislative Compliance and the essence of that Committee is to seek to compel compliance with resolutions of the legislature. The committee is working, they have a record of the resolutions that have been complied with and resolutions that have not been complied with and for those that have not been complied with, what we are trying to do is to give the committee more bite. They will move a motion on the floor of the House specifically that will indicate that these are the numbers of the resolutions we have passed; these are the ones that have been complied with, these are the defaulting dgencies and through the mechanism that is in Section 88 of the Constitution, the parliament as a whole can then empower the Committee on Legislative Compliance to then summon all those agencies that have not complied with the resolutions and ask them why. And as to whether sanctions cannot be applied, provided for under the Legislative Powers and Privileges Act, it’s something we are aware of and doing everything possible to ensure that there is more compliance with the resolutions of the National Assembly through the instrumentality of that committee.
With the situation that we have now that the Senate has jettisoned screening some nominees, will the House mediate between the Senate and the Executive?
I won’t call the role of the House of Representatives mediation as such, but I said that our principle is cooperation with the Senate so that together we can achieve more and cooperation with the executive, where we will disagree and then agree. But in most areas, we should look for ways of cooperating more than fight. And it mustn’t be the House that mediates. It can be all the key players in the system: whether it’s the Senate mediating in an issue that concerns the House and the executive or some other persons in the executive mediating in the relationship between the executive and the legislature. This is not even called mediation, but consultation and compromise, which are key when you expound further the doctrine of checks and balance. We must always meet, talk to each other, reduce areas of conflict and where there are conflicts, we will overcome them. As I said earlier, there will always be conflicts, but what distinguishes us as leaders is whether we overcome those conflicts or we are overcome by those conflicts, and that is what we cannot allow. So we try to do that, the House will go to any length, talk to anybody in the Senate, in the executive, so we can forge an atmosphere that is convenient to work with. So it’s part of the work we do as leaders and as institutions of government, we should encourage more consultations, more dialogues, especially on issues.
The House and the Senate have proceeded to pass the Peace Corps Bill when virtually all relevant executive agencies seemed to be against it. What really informed this?
On the Peace Corps Bill, like I said, we mustn’t agree always with the executive. When they are talking about funding, National Assembly was convinced that within the structure for the funding of the police, civil defence, that was the same argument when the Civil Defence Bill was before the House, that it could not be funded, that they were divolving some of the powers of the police to the civil defence, that it would never work and at the end of the day all these were surmounted and now we have the civil defence that in some cases some citizens have said are more dependable than the conventional police. I don’t know. It’s a value judgement that I’ve not gone into so I can’t tell, but I know they are doing a good job. I see them everywhere I travel to and they have become a pride of the society.
Now the main consideration as regards the Peace Corps, all these considerations in terms of crises across communities, it was found that if they had these, they’d be able to supplement the work of the civil defence and police in providing security. And as I said the security of and life and property is the first responsibility of government in guaranteeing the welfare of the citizens. So we cannot overspend on the issue of protecting the lives and the properties of our citizens. We cannot. It was after the passage of the Bill that we began to hear that a chunk of the work of the police would be taken by the Peace Corps as well as oppositions from different levels of government. So, the Bill is still there. It’s before the president for his assent. If he doesn’t assent it for whatever reason, we are at liberty to recall it back to parliament and muster the 2/3 in the House and Senate and pass in spite of Mr. President’s veto. But right now that is not the discussion. So I’m not sure where it will be from here. For now, that is where we are, but we believe that if we escalate the issue of safety of lives and properties in our communities, we will have to get more people looking after the welfare of our citizens as to whether that job can be done convincingly by the police and civil defence alone is not too clear to us.
What is the current status of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and as an addition, what informed your recent push for the reduction in the price of petrol and kerosene?
The PIB has gone through first reading; we’ve had to segment the Bill, because we used to lump them together, but in most cases, some issues are pulling against each other and so much interest, so we want to deal with the regulatory sector of the entire sector first of all. We believe that we can get this one done, because there are not many controversies. After we are done with the regulatory aspect of the sector, we can now move to the operational aspect and to a reasonable extent, I am convinced that we’ll be able to get the job done before the tenure of this present national Assembly lapses.
On pushing for the reduction of prices of petrol and kerosene, well we all know the importance of these products to our people, when prices of petroleum products go up; prices of virtually everything go up. And kerosene you know is the major fuel in most families, so we cannot over emphasise the importance of these two key products. There was a motion on the floor of the House and we set up an Ad-Hoc Committee to look at all those issues that the they lumped together that led to the escalating prices of some of these products, actually the high cost of the product are not all related to the landing costs. Sometimes, larger vessels bring these products and berth somewhere in the high seas, then the products are conveyed to the ports or where you have storage facilities via lighter vessels, it’s actually the cost of transporting the products from where the big vessels berth and how much they pay per litre of those transporting it to the storage facilities that are adding the toll on this storage facilities. We thought maybe if we look at some of these things and delve into the process, insisting that the right thing be done by cutting the cost of all these other things that add to the landing cost of the product that we will be able to have some reduction and that is what we are pursuing. For us, we all know the importance of these products, if the prices of petroleum products go down, you can be sure that most of the things we do will reduce like a tomato seller who tells you her wares is 2,000 and you complain will tell you to check how much transportation costs, in some cases they even tell you then prices of dollar has gone up as if dollar is involved in their farming, they will give excuses. So, for us to cut on some of these excuses, we need to do this kind of work, enquire into this so that we can now whether they are informed by sound fundamentals, but where the fundamentals are lacking, we can ask them to reduce price. By the time we do total summation of the landing cost, you’ll notice that the price has gone down and will have a ripple effect on the price of the product.
Mr Speaker, we can’t leave here without touching your home state Bauchi, there’s the assumption that you can’t visit your state, as you are on exile. That the relationship between you and your governor is not cordial because you are eyeing 2019, which is not out of place, what is really the crux of the matter?
On this matter I can give you a straight answer that I am not on political exile anywhere. I can go home any day, anytime that I like. I went home in December and very soon I am going home. So I want to use this medium to announce to everybody that I am going home. Those who think I am already on political exile, that is not the case at all. As a Speaker, you know that virtually every week, members are
having functions, and I have to be there every week. It’s not easy to escape from those schedules. You need to fulfill your obligations to members and work closely with your constituency, but it’s something that is always in my mind. My constituents are very close to me and I am close to them, even though I can’t be there every day; otherwise I won’t be the Speaker. The Speaker has so many other responsibilities.
On my relationship with the governor, I don’t think anything has prevented me from working harmoniously with him; maybe he should be asked the questions. For me, he is someone I supported. Everyone in the state knows. If it was not for very few of us, with all modesty I can say this, God uses people and God used us to put him where he is and we will be fools if we use the same hands we used in building him to this position to destroy him. Having said that, it doesn’t mean we will agree to work where we have no agenda. What bothers me is the people that we sold this agenda to, and I know how politically sophisticated Bauchi State is; it is one of the most politically sophisticated states in Nigeria. Since 2007, you can hardly rig elections in Bauchi. If you win elections in Bauchi, you have won it.
So, you can imagine that the sitting governor wanted to become a senator in 2007 and he didn’t win. He won in only one local government out of seven. The immediate past governor, having governed for eight years, wanted to run for Senate and won only one local government. So, for us, who are members of the political class; that is like a red flag warning that you must perform. Though I will never engage in confrontation with the governor, I will never support a situation where we are not delivering the goods.