BY DEMOLA AKINYEMI
Senator Mudashiru Oyetunde Hussain representing Osun West senatorial district was a two-time member of House of Representatives between 1999-2007 representing Oshodi-Isolo federal constituency, Lagos State. He returned to his home state of Osun and contested for the Senate in 2011.Hussain is a member of Senate Committee on Appropriation and vice chairman, Senate Committee on Sport. He was in Ilorin where he spoke on some national issues.Excerpts of interview:
As politicking towards 2015 general elections gathers steam, what is your advice for politicians?
Let me be honest with you, we, the politicians of nowadays, have not been fair to the electorate, because it is glaring that we have failed to provide leadership, and the large chunk of the blame goes to the ruling party at the centre. The way many PDP gladiators and foot soldiers are threatening fire and brimstone suggests what to expect in 2015.
Come to think of it, the speculative ambition of President Goodluck Jonathan has torn his party apart, because it is believed in some quarters that in a ruling party, once a presidential aspirant gets the party’s ticket, he is as good as winning the race. Where is the position of the electorate there? On daily basis, Prof. Attahiru Jega’s INEC is under attack by the politicians of the ruling party. The Offa rerun has given us a pointer to the evil machination of the stakeholders in 2015.
As far as I’m concerned, 2015 promises to be interesting because there will be no dull moment, and I have no doubt that evil politicians will be shell-shocked.
How will the APC resolve the issue of its presidential candidate amidst many interests by members of the party?
Despite the fact that APC is still at its formative stage, you can see the enthusiasm of the people, you can see relief, and contentment; that assures us that we have offered the people a credible alternative. Though the PDP might be saying they are unruffled, check the hearts of the people on that platform, you will feel trepidation and palpitation. On how to choose our presidential candidate, that won’t be a problem, because the way an individual’s interest was buried for collective interest in the formation of the mega party, is the way our collective aspiration will prevail in the choice of our presidential candidate.
Do you support joint account between state and local governments? What is your take on local government autonomy?
Whoever chooses to speak on the issue of joint account of state and local governments must be well schooled on what led to the operation in the first place. The failure of most local government councils to pay salaries of their teachers, and workers was part of the reason. In Osun State, during the administration of Chief Bisi Akande, some local governments recorded zero allocation, meaning that immediately allocation arrived, it was used to pay half of workers salaries, so nothing was left to offset the balance talk less of execution of projects. So, the local governments were in perpetual debt. Besides, in a federal structure, we can only have the centre and component units, that shows we can only have the centre and states, local governments are bye products of states. I am one of the senators who support joint account between local governments and state governments because some of our local government chairmen and councillors are not mature. If allocation goes to them directly, there will be an overwhelming abuse. Let the status quo remain for now.
How do you see the current revenue allocation formula and sharing? How would you want it to be for equitable sharing?
What I am about to tell you now must not be seen as the opinion of an opposition politician, but a realist whose interest lies in true federalism. Ordinarily, all component units of a federation ought to have something in form of revenue contribution, and this could happen if all states are allowed to take possession of what they have as resources. In Nigeria, some states could dwarf Niger Delta oil with agricultural produce; some states could develop on tourism, some states could grow on taxation and levies, and so on, but because of the lazy structure, and defective leadership, we are compelled to practice ‘feeding bottle’ federalism, where all states go to Abuja cap in hand, begging the Presidency for everything. On how I desire the sharing formula of the present conjecture called allocation sharing, it will be a good play seeing the states and local governments getting more share, while the centre gets less. Check it out, all the 36 states share 26 percent, and they still have things like infrastructure to show, some local governments are struggling to commission some projects out of the 17 percent given to the 774 councils recognized by the Constitution, what has the Federal Government to show for 54 percent? Do the maths, and think on my stand point.
What have been your achievements as a member of the National Assembly vis-a-vis the people of Osun-West that you represent?
When a legislator begins to spell out achievements like the executive, it further reminds us of our defects, and our own brand of democracy. Under normal circumstances, a lawmaker is to represent his constituency, and give voice to his or her people in every piece of legislation that should be pushed forward, but it is quite obvious that our constituents are demanding some results different from lawmaking and oversight functions. In the light of this, I must say that in the last two years, I have attracted some projects to my constituency in Osun. For the past two and a half years of being a member of the Senate representing OSUN west senatorial district, I was able to contribute immensely in terms of robust debate on national issues that affect my senatorial and Nigeria in general such as how to improve the well-being of the Nigerian youth in orher to reduce unemployment and poverty in the land. I sponsored a bill which is ready for second reading (the bill is seeking gender equality in the society).
I initiated a lot of federal projects in various local governments within my senatorial district such as building of schools, sinking of boreholes, erection of solar energy poles and of course distribution of 500kva transformers not mindful what I did to better the life of individuals, especially in the area of securing federal job appointments. I have also empowered quite a number of women and youths with various working tools and cash.
How do you rate the performance of the APC led government in Osun?
Before the APC led government took over, our people were made to contend with economic blunders, which rendered Osun to a civil service state, another name for a failed state, a situation that compelled Governor Aregbesola to seek a new window of economic opportunities in the state through his six-point integral action plan known as ‘O’ Concept. Through the concept, the issue of capital flight was addressed. Another landmark was how the APC government led by Aregbesola removed Osun from the list of perpetual debtors and insolvency. As a matter of fact, the way he bought back the suffocating loan bequeathed to him by his predecessor was good to be described as financial surgery. Today, Osun has become a bride for investors, and it is on record that the state has the lowest unemployment rate, according to the field work of Federal Bureau of Statistics.