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Why Buhari Cannot Revive Nigeria's Economy -Kaze.

YOU were in the House for two terms of four years each. What is your assessment of its present leadership?

Based on what we read in the media that money exchanged hands, it was quite unfortunate that such ugly trend prevailed. It has never been this bad. I was in the National Assembly for two terms and I cannot recall that I elected anybody to be Speaker or any other principal officer of the House based on any form of inducement at all. But, the things we read on the pages of newspapers and the social media recently did not suggest that the emergence of the principal officers of the National Assembly was proper. I don't think so. What we saw over the appointment of the Minority leaders when the House witnessed a rowdy session was quite unfortunate. The choice of the principal officers shouldn't have caused any form of rancour because it is supposed to be the sole responsibility of the opposition parties to elect their leaders. I read that one of the claimants to the office of the minority leader was threatened by the presiding officer of the House. That is not the way to start the ninth National Assembly. It sends a wrong signal to those of us who belong to that institution and Nigerians generally.

What is your suggestion, given your experience and knowledge as a former lawmaker?

It is important to show party loyalty; there is no question about that. But it is more important to show loyalty to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and to serve in the best interest of the citizens of Nigeria. The leadership of the National Assembly as constituted today is made up of Mr President's men. However, they should not forget that posterity will judge them after leaving office. They should not forget that the bastion of democracy is the legislature. At this stage of our growing democracy, it is extremely important that the presiding officers of the National Assembly must, at all times, do their best in protecting the independence of the legislature, especially at a time when the autonomy of the judiciary has been clearly compromised.

The concept of Ruga has been suspended by President Muhammadu Buhari following the controversy it generated. But before Ruga, the government came up with the idea of ranching and cattle colony.

It is a policy summersault. It is an attempt by the government to cover itself from public shame and disgrace, hence it adopted the word 'suspension'. Actually, what has happened is nothing but the termination of the scheme. I said termination because the government started with what is called ranching. Thereafter, they came up with the idea of cattle colony. The people attacked it and it went into oblivion and all of a sudden and without any form of consultation, the government introduced the Ruga scheme. But it was roundly rejected. I will suggest that those who rejected ranching, cattle colony and also Ruga should be on guard. Who knows, those behind the unpopular ideas may come up with another term? The question I keep asking is, what makes the president think that between the farmers and herders, it is the latter that deserve the necessary attention of the government? Why should one policy be given all manner of names in order to satisfy the herdsmen and not all citizens of Nigeria? The crisis between the farmers and the herdsmen is between two equal stakeholders in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. So, the government ought to be father to all and not just to one person. But unfortunately, the only policy the president understands and can even implement without any legal backing is the one that is pro-herdsmen.

In the 1999 Constitution, there is what is called the Exclusive List. There is the Concurrent List and the Residual list. There are things that only the Federal Government can legislate on like firearms, for example. There are things both the federal and state governments can legislate on such as education and finance, just as there are things that are by nature belong to the state, with an example being the traditional institution. We don't expect the Federal Government to legislate on traditional matters in Plateau State and in any other part of the country. It is residual to the state and there are many other things like that. The The Ruga scheme injures and tampers with the provision of the Land Use Act, as the lands in Nigeria are under state governments except for the Federal Capital Territory. So, if it is a state government that is proposing Ruga for its people after consulting the traditional rulers and all the relevant stakeholders, the people will understand. But for the Federal Government to now decide that they are going to by gazette and acquire lands and based on that, come up with a policy that suits them, it is definitely illegal. You don't go against the constitution and expect that the people will not resist such infraction; the framers of our constitution embedded the Land Use Act into the document to guarantee its sanctity.

Cases of insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and forms of insecurity have become a daily occurrence in parts of the country. What will suggest as the way out the menace for the country?

Throughout my stay in the National Assembly, a section of the media consistently portrayed the people of Plateau State as those who disliked non-natives. They perceived them as troublesome; people who loved bloodshed. What we were telling people then was that the crisis in the state should not be localised to Plateau; that it was a problem that all sections of this country should be concerned about and it has since reached that level. It means that issues like state police should be given adequate consideration. The governors should be given the power to be chief security officers of their states in a true sense of it. The governors must have the capacity to bite; the power to command and be obeyed when it comes to security issues in their states. We should amend our laws to respond to the current needs. We should allow state police to take off. We have seen what civilian Joint Task Force (JTF), neighbourhood watch and other para-military bodies have done and here in Plateau, we have the Operation Rainbow. The local people understand their terrain more than strangers or visitors. Each state can constitute an intelligent body that will work with the federal security agency to tackle security challenges facing each state and the entire country.

With the outcome of the 2019 general election in the country, do you see your party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) surviving beyond 2023?

The PDP will survive beyond 2023. The party that took over from the PDP has become so unpopular. That fact alone is making the PDP more popular; people are able to recall that the economy was not all in a shambles when the PDP was in power; that the living condition of Nigerians was not all that bad. There is no doubt the PDP made some mistakes. The party will naturally bounce back. If we are ready to learn from our mistakes, I know the PDP will bounce back in 2023. In Nigeria today things are going from bad to worse and I don't believe that we have a president who can turn around the economy of the country, President Muhammadu Buhari does not have confidence in other sections of the country like he does for his own people.
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Publication:Nigerian Tribune (Oyo State, Nigeria)
Geographic Code:6NIGR
Date:Jul 16, 2019
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