By Bilesanmi Olalekan
Farouk Lawan, a ranking member of the House of Representatives and chairman, House Committee on Education, says, contrary to insinuation, the House leadership is not threatened. According to him, nobody has brought any notice of impeachment against the leadership to the floor of the House. He also announces his entry into the 2011 Kano governorship race, sayingÂ lack of purposeful leadership in theÂ state, among other reasons, is why he is contesting the election.
There appears to be impeachment threat against the leadership of the House of Representatives. How true is this?
First of all, this is mere speculation. Nobody, as far as I concerned, made or is making any such move. Bankole, as I am speaking to you now, is the speaker of the House of Representatives. Anybody can go to the media outside there to say whatever he wants to say. The bottom line is that if you have an issue, bring it to the floor and nobody has done so till now. Even the speculation that a group is supporting such move, the same group issued aÂ statement that it never contemplated impeachment of the speaker.
But let me make this point that removing a presiding officer is not an easy thing. I am talking out of experience because I have been involved in all the major and minor crises in the House in the last 10 years or thereabouts. So it is not something you just wake up and say you want impeachment. When people who are not really experienced in legislative functions say they want to remove the speaker or the principal officers, I always tell them they should think twice because in the National Assembly, at this point, we do not have the luxury of time to create any instability, there is no time for any kind of crisis in both chambers particularly now that the president has pledged to continue to discharge the affairs of this country.
The executive and the legislature require some level of stability in order to move the nation forward because we are all going into election in a couple of months. If any crises erupts in the House now, I can assure you it will not end till the time of election which means that ,from now till the time of election, no work will be done in the House, and if it affects the House, it will affect other parts of government. Beyond that, there has not been any tangible offence or issue to warrant the impeachment of the speaker. Again, the House comprises 360 members, when you see or two persons making all kinds of noise in trying to remove the speaker, I can assure you that the HouseÂ is not in any mood for any crisis.
If that is true, why did the speaker cut short a trip outside the country?
He did not rush back. The speaker was supposed to be at the wedding ceremony of Babagida Nguroji, the deputy speaker under Patricia Etteh, who got married in Maiduguri two FridaysÂ ago.The speaker was expected to return that morning of the wedding and suddenly there was volcanic eruption, so he could not make it. So the question of rushing down never arose and, as soon the weather improved, naturally, he returned home including some of the governors outside the country at that time.
You appeared to have been silent on the floor of the House for some time now. Why the sudden silence?
I donâ€™t think I have been silent. I donâ€™t believe in talking for the sake of talking. You must have the right issue that would make you want to contribute. The major issue that has dominated the National Assembly is the issue of constitutional amendment and I have been making my contributions.
Your silence, some have attributed it to your interest in your state governorship election.
I have been in the House of Representative for the last 11 years and election would hold in some months from now and I can assure you that my large support base in Kano is desirous of my contesting the governorship election. I am still thinking along that line. I believe we have not been very lucky in terms of the leadership in Kano that would aggregate the yearnings and aspirations of the people into a collective action plan that will take the people from poverty to prosperity. The best governors of the state ,to my mind, were Haruna Bako and the late Abubakar Rimi.
Since their times, we have had governors who possibly put in their best of course but are never the best for the people. What Kano needs goes beyond what the leadership of the state is presently offering. I believe that this is where my experience comes in terms of quality leadership for the people of Kano. I am still consulting though so that everybody can be carried along when eventually we come out.
Can the PDP retake power from the ANPP-led government in the state?
Kano has always been a PDP state, we won the elections of 1999 overwhelmingly.Â Out of the 24 members of the House of Representatives, 23 were of the PDP, ANPP one. We won all the senatorial seats but the internal crisis in 2003 within the party, with the rising profile of General Muhammed Buhari, made the PDP lose the election.
Again, in 2007, if you look at the figures in the governorship race, you will see that the difference between the two parties was marginal. At the moment, only a miracle can stop PDP from winning the election in 2011 because the people are clearly tired of the ANPP government in the state, they want alternative which of course is available in the PDP. Again the ANPP is in crises with the departure of Buhari as he has taken away a large membership into ACP which means the party is in no position to give PDP serious fight for the State House in 2011.
I believe what we need to do which has always been the bane of the party in the state is our inability to unite but with the reconciliation going on, PDP will win the election. The greatest threat to PDP winning the election is PDP. But if we can put our house in order, only God can stop us from winning the election. We are gathering momentum in terms of masses support because they are desirous of change.
Talking about reconciliation ,the last one between the two gladiators- the late Abubakar Rimi and Kwankaso -did not work. How would this work?
When reconciliation is done genuinely and truthfully, the result will be accepted by all. But, talking about 2010, in any democracy, you cannot stop anybody from coming to contest election , that is the beauty of it all. What is important is that, let there be a level playing ground for everybody to contest, in the end, those who lose out will be expected to rally behind the candidate of the party during the election proper. That is what I am saying that once there is total and genuine reconciliation, there wonâ€™t be rancor or animosity between members.
You say people are tiredÂ of the ANPP, hence the choice of PDP for 2011 but it appears the same thing is happening at the centre.
I donâ€™t think so because I am not sure people donâ€™t want PDP anymore except for few elements in the opposition. My feeling is that, generally speaking, people are still interested in the PDP, that is why we are controlling many states in the federation and I believe that, in 2011, the PDP, will win again especially because the opposition has failed to organize itself. That lack of confidence in themselves means they cannot organizeÂ Â formidable opposition to the PDP.
ThereÂ really no apathy among the people against the PDP, that is why the PDP is winning election which is also why people are not willing to move into the opposition parties because they have failed to offer the alternative. If they are desirous of change, you need policies and programmes that are better than the incumbent. At this point in time, I have not seen any opposition that has that.
What are your chances in the election given the strength of those (Muhammed Abacha Kwankwaso and still counting) contesting with you?
My chances are quite bright. So far, out of those running for the governorship, I am the only one who has been elected into office three times, so far in the PDP. There is none that has been in office for the number of years I have been in office. The positions I have taken mostly on national issues in the National Assembly in the last 11 years have been very popular with the people of Kano. I have successfully maintained my credibility and integrity in the national polity and the people of Kano are quite aware of this and, of all the responsibilities I have been given, I have done creditably.
So the people appreciate and given the chance since I have the energy, idea, experience, exposure, courage and determination to make it better in Kano.