•Says like prostitution, corruption cannot be wiped out completely
•Spells out how NASS spends their N115 billion budget
•Local Government elections in Nigeria a mockery of democracy
On the surface, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Dogara looks like someone who cannot hurt a fly: humble, simple and ever smiling. But if you sit down with him and engage him on national and international issues, Dogara comes off as deeply entrenched in the art of politicking and governance, unwilling to give up his view point on any issue. On the other hand, if you frown at any matter relating to the National Assembly or where Nigeria is heading under President Muhammadu Buhari, his views may surprise you. On Tuesday Dogara played host to some senior journalists in Abuja. SONI DANIEL, our Northern Region Editor, was one of those in the audience for Saturday Vanguard.
The perception among Nigerians is that both the Executive and the Legislature are not on the same page on many issues. What’s your position on this?
As politicians, sometimes we don’t attack the issues frontally because of the doctrine of Separation of Powers. But let it also be known that 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, there are 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. Clearly then, 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 National 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 interface 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 power 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 judgment. 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 IN 2015 ELECTIONS
Nigerians sacrificed a lot to get us to where we are today because 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, just imagine the kind of sacrifices people made. So we must 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 but all of us will share in the blame. It is in realisation of this responsibility that we have indeed sometimes bent more than twice backwards in order to accommodate the Executive. We have been working in that fashion and 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.
As the number four person on the hierarchy of National leaders, would you say that your party has not disappointed Nigerians given the hardship in the country?
I wouldn’t say that we have disappointed Nigerians because 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 the 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 judgment, 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 who come from the Northeast, even some of us who 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, U.N Mission here in Abuja was bombed, bombs exploded in Kaduna, Kano, Jos, in Nyanya as well and there was even threat of this mayhem being exported to the Southwest and other regions of this country. If you look at it today, we have exited from that. The biggest problem of democracy is that with violence you cannot take the benefits of democracy. Democracy as we practice: 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 and 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 swatch 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, our citizens in the Northeast zone down to Abuja can move around more freely than before, that is something.
You can go to work and leave your family at home without any fear that something may happen while you are at work or that your family is afraid that you could be bombed while you are at work, at least that is progress. Now if you look at the battle against corruption, some may say it is one-sided, but the good thing is that the war has started and we are beginning to see results in that 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 to first? They are aware that anything can happen. So, to some extent the current anti-corruption war has prevented people from engaging in the kind of looting of resources that we experienced in the past and some level of sanity is returning. 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. So I think progress is being made on several fronts. Of course, they are issues we have not totally eliminated or dealt with: issues of kidnapping, sundry criminalities, 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, 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 that 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.
But some Nigerians say that there is corruption in the Parliament while many others think that the Parliament cannot fight corruption without opening itself first to public scrutiny by making public its budget and running costs.
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.
The advanced countries that we try so much to copy or speak so glowingly of have also not been able to achieve this. It’s not that corruption has been eliminated 100% and we have seen this hydra-headed monster called corruption rearing its head even in elections of certain jurisdictions. But our collective effort is that we reduce it to the barest minimum. Let me say that 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 fathom 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 and so on. Even the Police have been fighting crime since the age of Nigeria, but there are still crimes. Thus, the National Assembly is not an institution that exists on its own but part of the society and I cannot say you cannot trace any iota of corruption to its affairs but the point is when we discover them, they should be properly apportioned punishments not just to express dissent but apportion punishment that is appropriate, punishment capable of deterring others. And for our budget, it should be borne in mind that National Assembly does not command more than 2% 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 98% of our nation’s resources is not spent by the National Assembly but by other arms of government. But sometimes the focus of our citizens is on that less than 2% as if that is the bane of our progress in this country, as if we use the money for National Assembly Nigeria would just become an advanced nation. It bothers me a lot, where you have 98% resources, nobody bothers about it, or maybe we have grown used to it, that as a matter of fact, monies meant for housing, bridges, hospitals and agriculture can be misappropriated, but it’s just that 2% they give to the National Assembly that nothing must happen to it. I’m not defending the Legislature; I’ve 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 opinions 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.
GOVT BODIES TO PUBLISH THEIR BUDGETS
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%. 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 council. 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 Naira 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 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. Apart from that, we have the aides, each sitting member has five aides each, a Senators has seven each and if you multiply 5 by 360 and see the number of aides, then 7 by 109 you will know what is spent by the NASS. They draw their salaries there, the trips and everything. The last count 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, they have their offices outside and unfortunately they don’t even have permanent structures and 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, we have like 500 staff, we have commissioners representing the geo-political zones, plus the Chairman, all of them draw funds from here.
Then we have NILS, 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. 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.
But sometimes it’s even your members that raise the red flag, like the issue of padding by Abdulmumin Jibrin. When you hear stories of corruption being raised directly by the members of the legislature what conclusion can the ordinary citizen reach about corruption in the NASS?
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 that true? The man that said it was unable to bring forth evidence, he should have brought documents, he is a member, and he should have brought his bank documents to prove that, very simple.
How does the House of Representatives see the menace being posed to national security by herdsmen and what is being done to curtail it by way of legislation?
For the herdsmen, we have made it very clear and I think the President has also stated clearly that all those instigating violence in any form in any part of the country should be severely dealt with.
As far as we are concerned whether the perpetrators of criminality come as kidnappers, herdsmen or whoever engages in any act of terrorism they should be treated 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 Boko Haram and any other criminal making war against innocent Nigerians. Such elements must be severely dealt with by the law so as to serve as a deterrent to others.
What is the disposition of the House of Representatives to Cross-carpeting?
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 cross-carpet 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 cross-carpet, you lose your seat, it’s clearly provided for in the Constitution, but where you have a political party that is factionalized, 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. Someone who has the freedom that democracy provides can say no, I don’t want to belong to A or B, I don’t see any as a choice for me. What do you want him to do?
What is the position of the House of Representatives to the Senate’s resolution declaring the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service unfit to hold public office?
On the resolution concerning the CG of Customs and whether the House is on the same page with the Senate and the Executive, I can’t speak for the House. The House will have to speak for itself through a resolution of its own. 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.
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.
Now the whole issue that gave rise to this conflict was that the CG should appear before the Senate in uniform to talk about issues surrounding the policy of collecting duties on cars purchased even long ago.
The only thing was that he should appear in uniform and then the CG said no, I need legal advice as to whether I must wear the uniform or not. Now can I ask you what the view of your paper on this is? Not what the Senate is saying, but what the Law says about the CG wearing the uniform or not?
If we continue to have these kinds of debates, we may not even have to engage in the kind of fights we have in Parliament because by the time all the newspapers come up with their opinions, a lot of people will now know and be educated and know the position and it saves this institution from clashing.
How comfortable is the National Assembly with the level of compliance with 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?
And 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 and 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 the resolutions of the National Assembly 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 agencies 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?. So 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.
Is the House mediating between senate and the Executive?
I won’t call the role of the House of Representatives mediation as such, but I can say that our principle is cooperation with the Senate so that together we can achieve more, cooperation with the Executive, where we will disagree, we will disagree. But in most areas we should look for ways of cooperating more than fighting. 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 is 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. Like I said however 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 is the part of the work we do as leaders and as institutions of Government we should encourage more consultations, more dialogues, especially on issues.
Why did the House of Reps pass the National Peace Corps Bill when it appears the Executive is not happy with such an agency, apparently to reduce cost and number of security agencies parading the streets?
Like I said, we mustn’t agree always with the Executive on all issues. When the bill for the establishment of the Civil Defence Corps the Executive raised the issue of duplication of the functions of the police and other security agencies and that it will 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 that they are more dependable than the conventional police, I don’t know it’s a value judgment 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 our own judgment, the security of and lives 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 opposition from different levels of government. So the Bill is still there before the President for his assent. However, if he doesn’t assent to it for whatever reason, we are at liberty to recall it back to parliament and muster the required 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. But 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.
Mr. Speaker one of the issues that continue to worry Nigerians is the hijack of the functions of the Local governments by the states, a situation that has arrested development at that tier of government. In fact, most governors believe that as far as they are concerned, there is no third tier of government known as local government. Is it possible that under your leadership, there could be an amendment of the Local Government Law to ensure this autonomy is attained?
The current system is not working, and if we keep sticking to it and expecting it to work someday, we are just deceiving ourselves. We are clearly fooling ourselves by continuously doing the same thing all the time but expecting different outcomes. It has become a system whereby some have constituted themselves into middle men along the lines. They simply grab the resources meant for the development at the grass root and appropriate it the way they deem fit. there is also a twin evil in the local government system called State Independent Electoral Commission, which amounts to a total mockery of democracy It is absurd for elections to hold even in the local government and you say one political party won all the seats. I have never seen where democracy is mocked like in Nigerian local government elections, so I don’t know how we can continue to mock ourselves that we are practising democracy at the third tier of government. We all know the reason for the insistence that one political party will win all councillor and local government chairmen seats. At that level of government where the middle-men are hijacking, not all the middle-men though, there can be no single voice of descent.
The party in power must win everything in sight and the other parties must lose everything. If I were one of them, I’d mock democracy further or pretend not to be mocking democracy and take some of my boys and plant them in different parties and say decamp to this and cede the seats to them, so that there is the semblance of democracy, we know why this system will not work as long as it provides the resources as some level and these resources are being misappropriated, then it won’t work. And this is the bane of development in Nigeria, if we have more money, assuming we are able to clothe local government with autonomy, it will improve the pool of quality leadership at that level, and when you have quality leadership at the local level, the resources going there can better be managed. And at the end of the day we can have an oasis of prosperity in the desert of nothingness instead of all our people migrating to the cities, they will be able to find some kind of prosperity at the local level that can sustain them. You can imagine the guarantee of getting a =N= 100,000, contract there they can spend N70,000 in execution and getting N30,000 coming steadily, I can assure you most of our people will not come to the cities. But as it is such opportunities are non-existent.
That is why there’s pressure on the infrastructure of the cities and there is crime. For instance, if you work in the city as a “mai-guard” and your salary is 25,000 and you live in Keffi, you have to commute to the city to work, how will you even pay your transportation fee, so that is where the challenge is and we have to free this system. Sadly, our effort to reflect this change in the constitution last session didn’t scale through and we all know the reasons why it didn’t scale through, As good as he reasons are it will still not scale through the second time because of what we know.
It will take a general resolve from Nigerians, from media, journalists, civil society organizations, civil based organizations, from the Local Government staff themselves to insist on their State Assemblies that when this Bill is submitted to them, that they must pass it, if that doesn’t happen, I’m telling you just forget about the 3-tier of Government, because we don’t have anything at that tier and nothing good will come out of it because it has failed. And when we do this we will be able to free members of the State Assembly from the near stranglehold control of the governors. And it is only through effective oversight of resources that go to States and local government that we can make progress in this country.
If you look at it for instance VAT, what is it that goes to the Federal Government, 15%, the rest goes to States and Local Governments and once you push it there, it’s as good as you just pushing it down the drain. So a lot of resources is being wasted at this level and it is good that the President has spoken about this. I remember he said in his inaugural speech he would not have kept his own trust with the people if he allows the people under him abuse theirs. Now that we have some people are abusing this, Mr. President would also have to come into the fray to ensure that we free this local government system from the state.
What is the current status of the PIB? What informed your recent push for the reduction in the prices of petroleum products?
The PIB has gone through first reading and we have had to segment the Bill because we used to lump them together, but in most cases, some issues are pulling against each other because of vested interests. So we want to deal with the regulatory aspect of the entire sector first of all and we believe that we can get this one done because there are not many controversies relating to that aspect of the bill. 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. As it is well known in Nigeria, 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 and insist 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. For instance, 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 down on some of these excuses, we need to do this kind of work, enquire into this so that we can know 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 prices of the products.
We can’t leave here without touching your home State Bauchi. There is the assumption that you can’t visit your State as you are on exile apparently because the relationship between you and your Governor is not cordial because you are eyeing 2019. If I may ask you what is really the crux of the matter? Why are you not working in harmony with your Governor?
Well. I cannot give you a straight answer on this matter. But the truth is that I am not on political exile from my home State of Bauchi of anywhere else. 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, so 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, so 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 on 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. Don’t forget that 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 and I can say with all modesty that God used us to put him where he is today and we will be fools to use the same hands that God used to take him to that position to destroy him.
that 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. No, I will not do that.
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. Bauchi State is one of the most politically sophisticated States in Nigeria. Since 2007 you can hardly rig elections in Bauchi and it is clear that if you win elections in Bauchi, you have won it. Notee that in 2007 a sitting Governor wanted to be a Senator and he could not muster enough support to 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. Even though I will never engage in confrontation with the Governor; I will never support a situation where we are not delivering the goods. That is just where the problem is. Anybody who is delivering the dividends of democracy to the people is my wonderful person and if you are not doing that I cannot be on the same page with you so that when destruction comes, as it is certain to come, I’ll be excluded. And that is the problem we are having, it is not a matter of personality clash or people don’t want to work together. I can work with anyone whose agenda is the welfare and advancement of the people, but if it’s not being done then there’s no point pretending that we are doing anything.
So is the Governor not doing well?
But you have already said that I am on exile. You may need to go to Bauchi and do your own verification and see things for yourself.