Written by Turaki A. Hassan Monday, 01 August 2011 00:00
Mustapha Bala Dawaki (PDP, Kano State) representing Dawakin Tofa is a first termer in the House of Representatives. In this interview, he speaks on burning national issues including the contentious 6 year single term being proposed by President Goodluck Jonathan. Excerpts:
As a first time member, how do find the House?
I am still studying the system as well as the work of the legislature. For now, I appreciate the way things are going. Many things are going on and we are working seriously on important national issues. We have what we call the National Legislative Agenda, which we have been debating and also some bills are being considered. We adopted the final version of the agenda last week, and it is expected to guide our activities in the next four years. It contains issues of national interest.
Specifically, what is the crux of the agenda?
The crux of the agenda is to address issues of insecurity, power, employment, infrastructure decay, healthcare and creating a vibrant economy so that investors will come in.
While you are doing this, recently, former president Olusegun Obasanjo called on the House Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and his deputy Emeka Ihedioha to resign in 2013 so as to correct the zoning arrangement of the PDP. What is your take on that?
As far as I am concerned Obasanjo has ruled this country for eight years and his time has passed, so he should allow the president, together with other arms of government, to address the many problems of the country.
What Obasanjo said is not an important issue to us. The zoning he talked about has since been killed by the PDP with the emergence of President Goodluck Jonathan as candidate of the party in the last general election. Therefore, Tambuwal was elected without zoning because it was killed and buried by PDP. Zoning therefore no longer exists in the dictionary of PDP. So, to come back and say that it must be resuscitated will cause problems.
Let us now look for people who are competent to occupy leadership positions; people that will redeem the image of this country.
Are you saying that there is no wisdom in what the former leader said despite his immense experience in life?
There is no wisdom as far as I am concerned. The only wisdom he can contribute is to tell us how to make life better for Nigerians; how to address the insecurity problems, electricity, potable water; to ensure that the average Nigerian can go to any hospital and get treated at affordable cost and how we can send our children to school. This zoning issue became tense some months ago but it has subsided now. So being an elder statesman, bringing this issue up again at this time, has no wisdom. Obasanjo should allow us to work because nobody is his boy in the House; we are independent and we are only answerable to our constituents.
Knowing the person of Obasanjo, there are fears that given that statement, the House leadership may not have an easy ride in the next four years.
No. That is an assumption. We believe that we the members of the 7th House willingly, without any coercion, voted for Tambuwal. We are solidly behind him and we are ready to correct him if he makes any mistake. We believe that there is no way the House could be divided because even our colleagues in the opposition are with us.
From the way the House is going, I don’t think there will be any problem. Nobody is perfect; we may make some mistakes in the course of carrying out our duty but our able speaker, Tambuwal, is a man of honour and integrity. He is always willing to listen to us. So, there is no cause for alarm.
Are you saying that the leadership is not rattled by Obasanjo’s call?
It is not. We elected them; nobody appointed them and we are the only people who can remove them from office. For now, I don’t foresee any reason to warrant their removal. You can see that even the opposition are solidly behind the leadership, not to talk of the PDP members.
Don’t you entertain fears that the PDP will be used to cause problem for Tambuwal?
He is a loyal and law abiding party member. That is why just after his election, even before the party recognised him, he went and apologised to the leadership and told them that his emergence was an act of God. If he believes that he is mightier than the PDP, he wouldn’t have gone to apologised.
The cat was let out of the bag last week on the proposal by the presidency for a six-year single term for presidents and governors; do you think that will help stabilize the polity and reduce tension and violence associated with elections?
It has not yet come to the House. We have just been reading it on the pages of newspapers. However, what we believe is that we didn’t come here on our own; we are representing people from 360 federal constituencies, so we will not endorse anything like that without consulting with our constituents.
This is because we are answerable to them. At the same time, we members will look at it and consider its merits and demerits. In my opinion if six years term by executives at all levels will give us potable drinking water, electricity, good education, healthcare, good roads and security, I won’t have problem with that. But the way I am seeing it now, it is not the right time to bring up such issue. This is because we have so many issues and problems that need to be addressed; insecurity, collapsed education sector, poor health services with inadequate doctors and so on. Even the few doctors we have are always going on strikes. Our roads are death traps. So these things are 100 times more important than the issue of single term in office.
Therefore, as far as I am concerned, we should address these issues. We have just begun the 7th Assembly. The President is just two months old in office. Why is he in a hurry? I believe that these things can wait until the next two or three years. Even his transformation agenda does not talk of tenure elongation.
By bringing this issue at this time, it means that it is more important than everything else including addressing the problems of the ordinary people of Nigeria. It is wrongly timed and should be put on hold.
Is it correct to say that the President was misled?
I think that he is being misled by people that are in a hurry to put him into problem in this country. If you remember Obasanjo’s third term saga caused a lot of tension in the country. Now, we already have enough tension in the country; we are besieged by insecurity; even the government has not taken off fully. So the president will be creating more tension in the polity because it is a very sensitive matter.
He was misled by people who usually benefit by creating problems. They are sycophants who are selfish and don’t look at the interest of the country.
My belief is that anybody who talks about tenure elongation or six years single term at this point that we don’t have electricity, no health care, era of insecurity, bad roads and when millions of children don’t go to school, does not mean well this country.
6 yrs single term: Jonathan has been misled- Rep Dawaki