By Emman Ovuakporie
DR John Dyegh, who holds a PhD in Economic History represents Gboko/Tarka Federal Constituency of Benue State in the House of Representatives on the plank of the All Progressives Congress, APC. The third timer with a wealth of legislative experience, Dyegh, in this chat, spoke on his ambition to become the speaker of the Ninth House of Representatives and why the North-Central geo-political zone should produce the next speaker among others.
The speakership race for the 9th House has started and you are a little bit late in joining…
I am not late. We are on it and we are hoping for the best.
For the very first time, we have many lawmakers jostling for the position of speaker, why is it so?
Number one, the party has not officially zoned the position of the speaker.
But it is being speculated that it has been zoned to the South-West…
Well, that is a rumour. As far as I am concerned, there is no official position on this. What we are seeing in the papers has not been communicated to any of us officially. The party has not called a meeting to say look, members and members-elect, this is the direction of the party, we are going North-East, we are going South-West, we are going North-Central, etc. The party has not done that and in my opinion that is the reason for the many aspirants coming out for this position.
On why North-Central is insisting on producing the speaker
Politicians do their own permutations, and arithmetic as you would call it and we in the North-Central have discovered that the position we had in the 8th Assembly which is the Senate president has been officially zoned by the party to the North-East which means in the National Assembly the North-Central geopolitical zone will not have anything reasonable.
And so the first consideration is that, if you are taking number three from the North-Central, it is only fair that you give us to number four. In other words, if you are taking away the Senate president from the North-Central which by the protocol is number three, it is only right and fair that you give us to number four and not number six as is being speculated. In the spirit of equity and fair play and justice, if you are taking the position of Senate president from the North-Central, you give them the speaker.
More so if you are talking about the quantum of votes that made the federal government today, the North-West brought in the number one votes, the North-East brought in the number two votes and the North-Central bought in the number three votes.
So, if reward in politics, in the democratic set-up, is based on what you bring to the table, it only goes to show that our votes should also count – the votes we have brought to form the federal government which is number three. The South-West is very far behind us – number four, they already have the position of the vice president. So we are saying we deserve to be given the position of speaker if you took the position of Senate president from us, the law of justice, fair play and equity will tell you that you should give us the position of speaker. Most of the people coming out for the speakership are from the North-Central.
Before now you were the DG of Hon Idris Wase campaign organization but suddenly you joined the race, what influenced your decision?
In the papers, you will see that it is there in the public domain, it is not me saying it any longer, that the man is going in for deputy speaker and that is not the dream of North Central.
In the North-Central, we believe that the position of the speaker should come to us, if number three is taken away from us, the position of number four should be given to us and if anybody vying for the position of the speaker decides to go for the position of deputy speaker, if I am your DG, I will go for the position. It is not as if I wasn’t qualified when I was doing DG for anybody.
What is your agenda, if elected?
I am going to tell you just one thing, I have discovered in my stay here, this is my third time, there is a very high turnover of legislators, it is something that bothers me and it is something that should bother every Nigerian, it is something that should bother those that are particularly in politics.
If you want our democracy to grow, nascent as it is, you should be deliberate about churning up policies and legislation that make our democracy grow and take it to the next level.
When I become speaker, by the grace of God, deliberately we shall bring out legislation by amendment of the constitution wherein we will try to reduce this situation of high turnover of legislators.
We have discovered that legislative experience is being wasted therefore we want to seek an amendment in collaboration with the executives wherein we will extend the tenure of legislators from four years to six years and that means legislative experience will count.
When you come in just for four years and go back, it really doesn’t make sense, it is not good for our democracy. So at least one should stay for six years and do two terms that are at least 12years, so it is going to make more sense for our democracy.
And indeed even if you do only one term, you know that you have contributed six years and it will make more sense than this four years tenure. And like I said we are going to do that in collaboration with the executive, we need their buy-in.
These are some of the things we are going to do for our members to ensure that they stay more in the National Assembly.
In other climes, they do four terms and you discover that experience counts. In the US, you see people staying for 48 years but it is difficult for us to get to that level. So if it is difficult for us to get to a situation where one is voted in the legislature for like 10 times, why don’t we elongate the tenure of legislators so that legislative experience will count?