BY NDUBUISI ORJI
Tony Nwulu is a member of the House of Representatives representing Oshodi/Isolo Federal Constituency 2. He is one of the five federal legislators elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State. In this interview, he speaks on his agenda for his constituency and other issues. Excerpts:
What is your agenda for your constituency ?
I will pursue programmes relating to youth development within my constituency and the country at large. No matter how you look at it, the youths constitute the workforce of this country and if we are to take Nigeria to the moon, like former President Jonathan would always say, the youths should be the major driving factor.
So, issues relating to the youths will be brought to the front burner for discuat the National Assembly. I believe once we are able to get our youths right, get the women right, well protected, I am sure Nigeria will be on the path of greatness.
I intend to organize regular town hall meeting, interactive sessions with my constituency. So, far we have been able to set up a toll free number which is the first of its kind in the country.
My constituency is the first constituency in Nigeria to have a toll free number where the constituents can call in free of charge and make suggestions, complains, and all others things that bothers them. This is to make them understand that we appreciate their advice and we actually highly solicit for that. And it shouldn’t cost them anything to relate to me. During my campaign, I made them a promise that quarterly I will be sitting with all the stakeholders in the constituency. And the reason being that you need to understand the need of the people, not that you assume that you know the need of the people. Because that is part of the biggest problem the elected officers seems to have. There is always that disconnect between the elected representative and the people they are representing. You assume you know someone’s need, when you don’t.
For instance you have someone that is having headache and you go and buy antacid, of course you have provided a solution, but it is not suitable because you didn’t ask. just like if you go to the hospital to complain about an ailment, the doctor will ask where are you having the pain and they will administer the drug after diagnosis. Diagnosis is what most politicians don’t do, which I intend to do very well.
Your election is been challenged. Are you not afraid of the possible outcome of the tribunal verdict?
What you should be asking is, is it their constitutional right to challenge the election? Yes, it is. An opponent has the right to challenge the election where the person feels he or she really needs to. And the court is there as the final arbiter in the case. And since we run an open and transparent judiciary, so what we do is to meet in court and let the court decide. Issues like election tribunal are really not supposed to be blown out of proportion. It is a legal process.
It is a constitutional process. And everyone that feels aggrieved instead of resorting to violence should put their matter in the court. The only thing is just that politicians should learn to be good sportsmen and accept defeat. And the winners should also be magnanimous in victory, while the losers should be gallant in losing. That is the truth.
The idea of prolonged litigation even when you know you have no case, does no one any good. For instance, sometimes it could be very distracting, especially to the elected. The time you would have used in focusing on the constituents you use it in pursing post election cases. I believe if it is someone that has the interest of the constituency at heart you will let go. That is what we see Jonathan did. I think politicians should emulate him. When you lose you congratulate the winner and support him. And you continue to move, it is a service. It is a service to the people not to one self.
If the people say they prefer one person to the other, and you are taking the people’s choice to court, that means you are taking the entire people that voted for the person to the court. That means you are taking the constituency to court for exercising their franchise and deciding on whom to vote for. When the people have made their choice known and you notice that there is no violence, there are no cases of ballot snatching, everything went well as it should; you accept the result and the verdict of the people and move on. You don’t go back challenging the election, because when you do that you are challenging the verdict of the people.
You are challenging the thousands of people that trooped out on that day to decide on who they want to represent them, and I believe they have the right to do so. If you are an incumbent and you have served four years and the people felt that there is a need for a change, when they do that you accept it and support whoever won for the growth and development of the community. And not going through legal means to distract the person within the period he is to work. That is my take about petitions and petitioners.
Your party the PDP in Lagos State is in the tight corner at the moment. All along it has always depended on the Federal Government, with the lose of the party at the centre, what is the future of Lagos PDP?
The future of Lagos PDP is very bright. The issue is that one cannot be spoon fed all the time. We saw an opposition that grew from an opposition and took power from us. So, if there were areas we did not get it right in the beginning I believe this is the right time for us to go back to the draw board, restrategize and know how to get back power. At the end of the day everything ends up at the polls. When you sell your programme very well, the people will come out and they will vote their choice. That is the most important thing. So, whether power has shifted, like you said, at the centre as we all see, I don’t think that won’t make PDP at the state level to sit up. That means we have to sit up and do more. And reposition ourselves to fully take over. The new ruling party, used to be in opposition. They never had a centre to look up to. If they were so dogged to get to the centre, I don’t see a reason why anybody that is not at the centre cannot aspire to get to the centre or for us the PDP not to get back to the centre.
What is your reaction to the spate of defections from the PDP to the APC immediately after the last election. There are also speculations that there is pressure on most of you who were elected from Lagos on the PDP platform to defect to the other side?
First, a member of PDP moving over to the APC or APC moving over to PDP is expected. One, the person has the freedom of association in the country for none elected persons. You have freedom to move to wherever you think is best for you or where you think will serve your interest better. So are they breaking the law? No. They are not breaking any law.
We have seen people defect from the APC to the PDP in the past, and we also have some of them here with us. We have some APC members that moved in to PDP and they are here with us, they are still remaining in PDP, they are not defecting back. It is a choice. Then for elected officers, the Supreme Court had addressed that matter, you cannot cross-carpet if you cross-carpet you lose your mandate. That has been rested in the Nigerian politics. You can no longer leave APC and move to PDP as an elected office holder. You will remain in the party. After serving out you can change or whatever but at the moment you have to remain there.
All in all, I don’t see a reason why people should be doing that thing, it is not healthy for democracy. People should believe in ideologies of their party and live up to that. Every party has its own ideology. The problem is the greed of few do not allow them to follow the ideology of each of the party. There is no party that is not good in its own way. Every party is good. They all have what they represent. And non performance should not be a yardstick in determining what happens. Let me tell you that there is no godfather has the right to stop anybody from delivering the dividends of democracy to the electorates. So, most politicians that hide and blame their godfathers or look for someone to hold responsible for their failure should actually hold themselves responsible for their failure, not their godfathers. A godfather will not tell you not to represent a constituency well. He will not stop you from delivering dividends of democracy.
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