Salihu Akawo a former commissioner in Kogi State presently represents Kogi Constituency in the Kogi State House of Assembly and is an aspirant for the Lokoja/Kogi Federal Constituency seat in the House of Representatives. In this interview he ventilates on his aspiration among other national and local issues. Excerpts:
By Boluwaji Obahopo
Three years in the state House of Assembly. How far has your experience been?
No experience is useless. It has been a mixed bag of experience but all the same it has been a worthy experience. So far, so good, because we have been able to give the people a representation; the quality of it we leave if for prosperity to judge.
As an institution, one thing we have clearly achieved is that, the House members have related cordially with high sense of unity. You hardly see the difference that our people exhibit among themselves and that to me is very symbolic. That to me is a message to Kogites, that we can only grow and develop in unity. Some of the thing that divide us are been there but when we meet at the forum particularly at the state House of Assembly, where we meet at the forum of all the 21 Local Government.
Is it the unity that to a large extent, made the House to be seen as a rubber stamp of the executive.
That is not the point I am making, whatever you think of the House we leave that to the people and the judgment of history as a rubber stamp or not, but the kind of unity I’m talking about when we stand up to talk in the House, we don’t talk as individuals but we talk as brothers looking out for the progress of the state., that is the point I making. And I want this translated in our daily lives, especially, I want the executive to learn from this in the discharge of their duties end in the appointment and spread of projects, because that is where the problem really is.
I don’t think all segment of the state has equal sense of belonging either in appointment into the civil service and even execution of projects. And honestly, if members of the House of Assembly could sit and talk on the budget as one, and also consider appointment without any bickering, without any sentiment, I strongly recommend to all other arms of government to act, putting the state as one.
Is there internal democracy in your party, PDP?
I have my reservation towards that regard. At this stage of our political development all parties in Nigeria lack internal democracy. As we approach election in 2015 you will see defections here and there, people who are dissatisfied with the mechanisms of their parties. That shows us that, a lot still need to be done in the area of internal democracy.
What is your next political step?
My next step is going to be a response to my people. For quite sometimes, there has been a call and encouragement to seek election into the House of Representatives in 2015. Naturally, I m consulting every segment of the political class, every segment of the society before I will take a position. The outcome of my consultation will determine my position.
But how do you respond to the agitation of the PDP in Lokoja LGA that it is their turn?
Which opportunity is that?! The man in the House of Reps presently is from Lokoja LG and he assumed the office since 2007.
First and foremost, let me even say that the fact that the PDP zoned the House of Reps ticket to Kogi LG in 2011 and lost does not mean that the man there is from Kogi LG. Yes, we (Kogi LG) lost and the loss was not caused by Kogi LG alone, we also lost in Lokoja LG. So it was a general rejection of the PDP candidate in both LGAs.
If you are elected, what should people expect from you?
As legislator or lawmakers, one of the paramount issues is that you must give the people a “voice”; you participate in making law that will usher in good governance. You participate in the appropriation of resources to the extent that you articulate the needs of your people in the yearly budget. That is essentially, what is expected of you. That you will be there for them, you speak for their favour, and articulate to move the area forward.
Why is there confusion about the party you would use to contest the election?
That is coming from people who want me to take a shot at the Reps seat. What that means with all sense of modesty is that I am a bride to all parties. Those who are clamouring to have me on their platform I can only say I m grateful and thankful. I must say our party must be very careful with the way they handle this federal House of Reps thing. If you give the people their due, they will be obedient to the party but if there is any form of imposition, they will ventilate that anger. I have heard people comment on some posters in town, but I want to put it on record that its without my knowledge or approval; who ever must have done that is wishing me to go higher.