Opposition Merger, A Wake-up Call To PDP – Hon. Aminu Sulaiman

Hon. Aminu Sulaiman represents Fagge Federal Constituency of Kano State at the House of Representatives. Although he is a loyal member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hon. Sulaiman, in this interview with victoria uji, urges his party chieftains to view opposition parties merger against the PDP as a wake up call to serve the people better, among other issues

As the Deputy Chairman, House Committee On Labour and Employment, tell us a little about the committee and its functions?
All House committees have oversight functions over the ministries, departments and agencies under their charge. For instance, we approve their budgets and it is our responsibility to ensure that the appropriations are executed to the letter. We also work closely with the minister and the ministry to ensure that dividend of democracy vis-à-vis the provisions of the budget and the constitutions are delivered by the ministry.

How would you rate President Goodluck Jonathan and his cabinet in terms of performance?
I am afraid and don’t know what answer to give in this respect. First I am caught between the love I have for my party, the PDP, which I share with the president, and the collective interest of the Nigerian people. Now where these two interests conflict, it is only proper that the interest of the Nigerian People take supremacy of place.

To this extent, I am not pleased to say that the current federal administration has fully met the expectations of the Nigerian people even though President Goodluck Jonathan as an individual might mean well for the people of the country. I think the drivers he recruited to drive the affairs of the country are second rate. He really needs to scrutinise the drivers to ensure that they are driving at the speed that will take Nigeria to a position of reckoning.

The way things are now, it will be very difficult for us to present our scorecard to the Nigerian People in 2015. For instance, development in the North, where I represent, is nothing to write home about. I apologise if it is offensive to anybody, but the truth of the matter is that we must support the president and the party to do more if we really want to fly the PDP flag in the next elections in 2015.

I am confident that the president is a good listener. It is my prayer that before the 2015 elections, he and his cabinet will hit higher and faster gear. I am sure we have opportunities to change things for the better so that in 2015 the PDP will still triumph at the polls.

Do you think the merger talks by some the opposition parties pose any threat to the PDP in 2015?
I speak to issues and as I am speaking to you now, I am jittery. If you are sick and you do not admit before the doctor that you are sick, then eventually you are preparing yourself for a permanent state of bad healthy. If the alliance or merger proposed by the opposition parties materialises, two things will happen: one, it will make us the ruling party to tighten our belts to ensure that we deliver the dividends of democracy to the people.

Second, it is an opportunity for democracy to thrive because whoever is in position of authority and feels unchallenged, the possibility of him relaxing is there since he knows that there is no alternative to him.

The merger talks of other parties are a welcome development and a wake-up call for us in the PDP and the country itself. It shows that the Nigerian people are watching those of us in government. It shows that there is a day of reckoning and therefore it is imperative for us to re-double our efforts to secure progress for Nigeria and the people. I pray for the merger to work out because it is going to be healthy for our democracy.

For us as the ruling party, it is a signal that things are not going to be as usual. Although it is going to be a threat to the PDP, I pray it works out so that we in the party and every other person will know that if there is no good governance here, there is always an alternative.

Some say Kano is being transformed by Gov. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso. Are you satisfied with the governor’s performance thus far?
We have a workaholic as a governor and we are very proud of Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso at this very material time. The people of Kano State did not make a wrong choice voting for him to be their governor. If you enter Kano today, you will see changes everywhere and you’ll mistake Kano for a construction site with work going on in every part of the state. I think irrespective of whatever political opinion any one has, the minimum you can do is to doff your hat for him. And if things continue like this, Kano will be a mini Dubai in Africa in no time.

What is your take on the parlous security situation in the North?
The situation is quite unfortunate, although it is not actually peculiar to Northern Nigeria. You will recall that there was a near civil war situation in the South-West as crimes against humanity were perpetrated against Nigerians by the then OPC, which prompted then President Olusegun Obasanjo to order that anybody that claims to be an OPC member should be shot.

Between 1997 and 2000, it used to be Ijaw and Itsekiri in Delta State resulting in the deployment of more than two commands of the Nigerian Army into that area. Between 2000 and up to 2007 we all witnessed the upheaval in the Niger Delta, where criminals took up arms against the Nigerian State killing security agencies in the name of ownership of what they call wealth deposited in their land by God Almighty. We went over that and then Boko Haram comes in.

So, unfortunately it is all a cycle of negativity but in each cycle, God miraculously saved Nigeria and I believe that we are going to overcome this particular problem in the North too. However, some of us are concerned that the Federal Government has only shown very little concern because it is not about deploying security agencies to arrest the situation.

It is about what are you going to do to address poverty and unemployment because that person who is ready to take his life and yours has concluded that his life is useless and hopeless, hence worthless. It is a difficult state of mind to justify but some have reached that point of no return under the Nigerian system and there is no way you can change their mindset.

One way out, however, is to deny such groups of new members from the general pool of the citizenry by engaging the latter in constructive endeavours. If the people the terror mastermind plans to recruit have satisfying work to do, he cannot recruit them. Therefore we want the government to pay more attention to the north by introducing intervention programmes like they did in the Niger Delta.

There is extreme poverty in the north. Some of us are working on a bill now to compel the Federal Government to set up a special commission for the north like they did for the Niger Delta to address the poverty and unemployment in the North. If people are getting N65,000 monthly allowance to do nothing in the Niger Delta, then let us have 50 percent of that in the North. We are also working to ensure that normalcy is restored to the north.

What is your biggest achievement so far as a member of the House of Assembly?
The responsibility of the legislator, first and foremost is to initiate bills and motions. That is law and order on how the country can be governed. If a member spends his term without a bill or motion, then on that criterion you will be able to score him; anything outside this is complimentary.

However, in nearly two years and with gratitude to God, I have been able to secure about 55 employments into the Federal Service for members of my constituency. I have also sunk over 30 bore holes in my community. In addition, we have been able to organise empowerment programmes for our youths and women, with over 500 beneficiaries. These do not include personal intervention in education, health and in other areas that I cannot document.

In the House, I have two bills and 12 motions to my credit. I am proud to say that none of these motions was shot down by the House for it is one thing to bring up a motion and another to persuade your colleagues to accept it on the floor of the House.

What is your message for the Nigerian out there?
My message is for us to continue to believe in the country and continue to pray for the country. We should love one another and have faith that things will definitely change for the better.

Aminu Sulaiman: A Short Bio
Comrade Aminu Sulaiman (PDP, Faggae Federal Constituency, Kano State) was born in Kano. He attended Kurna Primary School and Government Technical College all in Kano. He obtained a Diploma in Industrial Relations from the Lagos State University and an HND from the Kano State Polytechnic. Sulaiman also holds a Master degree in Public Policy from the Bayero University.

A former trade unionist, Hon. Sulaiman was Kano State Secretary of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) for over 12 years. He was elected into the House of Representatives in 2011.