By Bashir Adefaka
Alhaji Liad Tella, journalist and former Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of two national tabloids, Concord and Monitor, is the National Commissioner, National Hajj Commission, NAHCO.
He said he decided to go into politics to help improve the living condition of his people through legislative means hence his emergence as PDP candidate into the Federal House of Representatives to represent Iwo/Ola Oluwa/Ayedire Federal Constituency in Osun State. He spoke to Vanguard on several national issues. Excerpts:
What is your assessment of the just concluded parties’ primaries across the country?
Well, without losing any sense of modesty, I think there hasn’t been any primary in other party except in PDP. If you read the interview granted by the National Chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria ACN in the papers, then why are people complaining about their style? Why are they complaining that ACN has always selected its candidates by imposition? Because, according to the chairman’s interview, that is their style. So nobody should question it and nobody should express dismay about it. It is confirmation of lack of internal democracy.
The essence of being member of a political party is to pursue an interest and the essence of politics is accessing political power. So the process of accessing political power either within the party or without must be transparent and open.
If you talk about democracy, there cannot be two ways to it than being the government of the people for the people by the people.
So, a situation where party members have no say in those who govern either their party or the nation, to me, is tactically inadequate. If you look at the last Presidential Primaries, it was open, it was televised and everybody saw it.
As a PDP leader, in Osun State, what is your view of the emergence of ACN’s Rauf Aregbesola as governor?
In the case of Osun State, I’m not against Rauf Aregbesola. He’s my brother, I’m passionate about my feelings for him and as a Muslim, I believe that it has pleased Allah to give him power. So there is nothing I can do about it. I can only wish him well. Any government in power, you must pray for them to succeed so that they can govern and govern very well. You don’t play politics with the lives of the people.
What do you want Iwo/Ola Oluwa/Ayedire Federal Constituency people to look out for if you make it to the National Assembly?
I didn’t quite look at politics until I got to the peak of my career in journalism. It was after that I discovered that no matter what I had been able to do, it was not enough to liberate my people from backwardness and abandonment. Iwo Federal Constituency has been used and dumped; forgotten and forsaken by the various political parties. They would get the largest votes from the Federal Constituency and yet on getting to power they do little or nothing to alleviate the sufferings, poverty and wants of the area.
My Federal Constituency is the least developed Federal Constituency in the country. Except the name, there is nothing Federal about it.
As a Member of Parliament you can also influence so many things, beyond legislation, in the direction of your people and I pray to Almighty Allah to use me to change and improve the condition of my people. So I’m going to work very hard, I’m going to coordinate and cooperate with my colleagues from other parts of Nigeria and I’m going to use my God-given contacts in trying to solve these problems and lay a foundation for others to build upon.
What would you do to help resolve the controversy trailing the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill when you get to the National Assembly?
First of all we will find out why the current legislature is not impressed or has refused to progress on the Bill beyond the first reading. I don’t know because I’m not there yet. I don’t know the process and the procedure adopted but, from the debates that I listened to on the floors of the House and comments from the Press, there are fears and apprehension by the legislature and by the executive that the FOI Bill, if passed into an act, will be used to blackmail, harass and probably bring down political office holders. That fear of the unknown is what I think is responsible for the delay.
Political office holders need reassurance that FOI Bill is in the interest of the nation. I know that in other lands, before a Bill is even put on the table for discussion, there should have been a lot of lobbying and inputs that will address this fear and subsequently put it on the table for discussion.
I don’t know if that was done but it’s a question of equity and he who must come to equity must come with a clean hand. If the media want unbridled freedom and unhindered access to information, they must demonstrate a clear sense of responsibility and show element of nationalism that will give confidence to the legislators and the political office holders.
Because the thinking of most of them is that we have not gotten to the point of nationalism in the media that will allow FOI Bill to become operational. Some are of the opinion that a section of the Constitution has adequately addressed the issue of access to information and that constitutional provision is being seen as adequate to address the issues brought under the Freedom of Information Bill.
There is a seeming unresolvable crisis in Plateau State which is said to have religious colouration. What is the way out?
Some of those problems that have been given religious colouration are actually not religion. You see, the Angas and the Berons in Plateau State; more than 50 percent of them are neither Muslims nor Christians. They are still animists. But there is this contention that if you are not bearing a Muslim name then you are a Christian. Whereas in Plateau State, most of them are traditional worshippers even up till this time I’m talking to you.