IT’S been over a year now that you have been outside government. How does it look like?
Life has been so good. I just need to thank the Almighty God for the wonderful opportunity He has given me to serve as a commissioner in Ondo State. I thank God for the modest achievements we were able to record when we were there. And I thank God for where He is still taking us. We are still young, we are just starting. And as you can see, we are more relaxed this time round. The tension is gone and we are more focused; I focus on my primary assignment as a media consultant. I’m attending to so many briefs, and I have the opportunity of attending to my family needs. For close to about six years that I served as commissioner in Ondo State, life wasn’t a bed of roses. I faced some challenges, my family suffered because most times I wasn’t there for them. But this has given me ample time to also relax and play with my children and my wife.
Election is just nine, ten months away. And as a politician, you know some people are moving from one political party to another. We know that some bigwigs have also moved out of PDP. Don’t you think this will also affect the chances of your party during the 2019 general elections?
I don’t know the people you referred to as bigwigs. But what I can tell you is that even within the major political parties in the country today, people are moving from one camp to another. It is not peculiar to PDP. Some people are moving out of APC too. Even there are some people within the APC as a ruling party who are creating crisis every day. If you look at what is happening at the National Assembly, the Senate President is an APC member, the Speaker, House of Representatives, is an APC member and very unfortunately, there has not been very smooth relationship between the legislature and the executive. So, are we now saying that because there are crises within the party, that the party will not move forward? So also some people who are aggrieved want to move to other parties. But at the end of the day, the will of the people will prevail.
Let’s go to what’s going to happen in Idanre/Ifedore where exactly you are showing interest. What are your chances?
Well, as you know, power belongs to God. I indicated interest in contesting based on certain premises as a paradigm. I was fortunate to have served at the National Assembly as special adviser on media and strategy to the then speaker of the House of Reps. From that vantage point, I have been able to understudy and understand the workings of the legislature at the national level. I can tell you without mincing words that in Ondo State, we have not fared well at the National Assembly in terms of representation. I’m talking with all sense of modesty. The average northerner will send their best 11 to the National Assembly. They don’t send people without mission; they send people that can deliver.
I was going through the appropriation bill for 2015, 2016 and 2017 and it saddened my heart that within three years, the only fund that came to Idanre/Ifedore federal constituency came in 2015 and that was N55 million. The N55 million was used to purchase motorcycles. They have reduced our people to okada riders. In a budget of N7 trillion, what Idanre/Ifedore could get was just N55 million. It’s sad. And we have some other federal constituencies that are getting close to 20 billion naira. How do they do that? In Idanre/Ifedore, the Federal Inland Revenue Services in a year made more than N2 billion. So, what we are contributing to the federation account is far from what we are getting. Now, aside funds from customs and other things, the money generated from the contract in the local governments, taxes from banks, taxes on cocoa, on timber and many others is over N2 billion from the two local governments that constitute Idanre/Ifedore Federal Constituency. And in the last four years, what came to us was just N55 million. It is unacceptable. And that’s why we want to come in.
What will you do differently from others as a federal lawmaker if elected?
Anybody that wants to aspire to go to the National Assembly has four responsibilities. The first is to provide quality representation. My people should be rest assured that with me, certainly they will get quality representation. Quality representation will not come in isolation. After that, I must ensure that I make good laws that will cover the people. If you look around, because of the way the federal structure is grouped, you see so many quarries around. Those people operating the quarries got their licences from Abuja. They come here and begin to create ecological problems for us. After breaking those granites, all those rocks and when there is erosion, it will affect homes. It is the duty and responsibility of a representative to ensure that laws that will protect his people are made at the National Assembly. Not only laws on environmental degradation, even laws that will affect marriage and the quality of life of our people.
And more importantly, the third one is to ensure that you participate actively in ensuring that the money appropriated for your people is really worth it. If Idanre/Ifedore is contributing about N2 billion naira in a year to the Federation Account through the Federal Inland Revenue Service and what we have got in the last four years is 55 million naira, then there is the need for us to ask questions. Where are our roads? The Federal Government is building roads in some federal constituencies. I was reading in the newspaper recently where the Osun State government was thanking the Federal Government for constructing about N7.6 billion worth of roads in a federal constituency there. Where is our own? There is the need for us to ask questions. The people representing us are the ones to ask questions. God willing, if I have the opportunity, I will ask questions and I will get what rightly belongs to our people for them.
Recently the re-ordering of election time table by the National Assembly and the issue of rejection of Peace Corps Bill by President Muhammadu Buhari has set tongues wagging. What’s your reaction to these?
The president by law has the right not to assent to all the bills sent to him by the National Assembly. The National Assembly also has the right to also override the veto of the president when they deem it fit that the bill they passed is in the interest of the pubic. What I will advise is that, since the party in government is also controlling both chambers (the Speaker, the Senate President are from the same political party), they should find a way of resolving this thing without creating constitutional crisis for Nigeria.
About the last question you asked on re-ordered election time table, well, it’s also the responsibility of the National Assembly to make laws for the good governance of Nigeria. What most of us are suffering from is military mentality. We have given all the powers to the executive, and in a situation where the legislature makes law contrary to the executive’s desire, we now say okay, let’s kill them. But we must also remind ourselves that in the past when we had military interventions, the only arm of government that was dismembered was the legislature. We have the right to allow the legislature to grow in the interest of Nigeria.
The current Electoral Act being operated by INEC today was made by the National Assembly. They also have the right to amend the Act. What I will advise is that we should allow everything to be done in the national interest. In the past, it happened like that. In 1979, 1983, we staggered the election; National Assembly, governorship and presidential elections. We reordered elections and nobody cried foul. So, it’s when there is ulterior motive that you result to all these shenanigans. If you know that you have the people around you, why do you need to make a mountain out of a molehill? It doesn’t matter. The National Assembly has the right to make law. That’s why at times, when there is any friction between the executive and the legislature, the legislature will want to hold itself because they know that the moment they chicken out, that responsibility of making law has been taken over from them by the executive.
INEC belongs to the executive arm of government. If you want to do all those things, you bring them to the National Assembly. In terms of legitimacy, the National Assembly members have legitimacy even more than the chairman of INEC because they are the ones representing the people. The chairman of INEC was appointed by the president and cleared by the National Assembly. But the National Assembly members were elected by the people.
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