What motivated you to join the race for the speakership of the House of Representatives?
I decided to run because our country has reached to a point that men of goodwill must not hold back; we have to stand up to be counted. The National Assembly, especially the House of Representatives where I belong, needs good, quality leadership. We need a Nigerian that can unite members of the House across political divides and also unite the people in general, regardless of their ethnic and religious beliefs. The House also needs a Speaker that will ensure harmony between the executive and the legislature.
I thank God for what the incumbent Speaker, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, has done. If, by the grace of God, I am elected as Speaker by my colleagues, I would ensure that I consolidate on those things Dogara have done very well. For instance, look at the issue of the passage of budget, it has been a source of concerns to Nigerians that our budgets don’t get passed on time. I can assure that if I get elected, the appropriation law would be passed in record time so that government can run smoothly. I will also ensure that other bills coming from the executive and those coming from members are passed speedily.
The working relationship between the leadership of the outgoing eighth Assembly is anything but cordial. How do you intend to work with the executive should you emerge Speaker of the ninth Assembly?
I am a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a loyal party man. The president is our father; he is our leader. So, this race is not about confrontation; it is about working with the president to ensure that we deliver democratic dividends to Nigerians. I am going to work with the party leadership and also with my colleagues across party lines whether in PDP or APGA, ADC or APC and I will ensure that all those fault lines are minimised considerably.
One of the major challenges facing the country presently is insecurity, especially the raging issue of kidnapping and Boko Haram insurgency. How do you intend to deploy the institution of the legislature to address these challenges?
You know that it is a work in progress. In this this year’s budget, we made ample provisions for security agencies. For instance, the Office of the National Security Adviser’s budget is almost what the National Assembly got. That means it is an area of priority. Zamfara State also got N10 billion intervention fund for security. So, I think going forward, we need to rejig our legislation. For instance, you do kidnapping and you only get a slap on the wrist. The consequences must be very grave. We also need to encourage the security agencies in terms of trainings and motivation so that they can do more.
Are you saying that you will set in motion processes for the review of the criminal laws?
Yes, definitely we have to look at the laws. Some of these laws have been there for decades where they will prescribe three years in jail or a fine of N200! So we need to look at all those shortcomings. The law itself is dynamic and as we evolve in the society, the law must be reviewed to ensure that before people commit any crime, they must weigh the consequences. That alone can help to reduce crime unlike now when they reason that ‘if I do it (commit a crime) worst case scenario is a jail term of three years or a fine if N10,000.’ We must look at all those things to ensure that the law stands as a deterrent for criminals.
What edge do you think you have over your opponents in the race?
The edge is that I have a lot of friends among our colleagues who have bought into this my speakership project. My interaction is across party lines; across all the political lines; across religious lines. Most of my friends are even more from the northern parts of the country than from the South-West. I think that is very important because when you want to lead, you are just one of the 360 members and you must be prepared to serve.
So, I am prepared to be a servant Speaker that is there to serve the members, not to lord it over them. People say I am very approachable. Definitely, I will need to continue with that. Also I think God’s favour is working for me, above everything else.
There is a rumour that some of your co-contestants have begun to influence your colleagues with money and other material things. Do you have the financial strength to match them?
That is strange to me. But I don’t need to bribe my colleagues to get them to support me because this is a project that we jointly own. All hands will be on deck for us to achieve victory. We are not going to bribe anybody; we are not going to coerce anybody; we are not going to harass anybody or use any other untoward means to force them to vote for us. They are ready to support the project and I believe that we will achieve victory together.Read Full Story