Posted By: KEMI OLAITAN
Abiodun Awoleye is a member of the House of Representatives representing Ibadan North federal constituency. In this interview with KEMI OLAITAN, he speaks on the crisis in the National Assembly, President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade and other national issues. Excerpts!President Muhammadu Buhari has been described as Mr. Go Slow given the fact that he is yet to constitute his full cabinet more than two months after his inauguration, do you agree with this view?
It is never taking too long. When the President wanted to comment on the issue, he said he was slow and steady. That answers it all. What Buhari government has achieved in the last two months, the last administration was unable to achieve in the whole of the four years. For instance, the issue of power generation has improved which every Nigerian can bear me witness. He was able to achieve this because the so called saboteurs are afraid of the government of the day. Unlike the past administration which encouraged corruption and nepotism. The foreign reserves have also improved tremendously beyond expectation. The insurgency in the North East has been dealt with. Now, go to those ministries, you will see that even without ministers, the work is moving seriously because the permanent secretaries are more qualified to handle the job effectively. More so, the President needs to get the set of people who will be able to support his polices.
What is your take on the crisis in the House of Representatives which many Nigerians see as a dent on the image of the country?
Today, there is no more crisis or factions in the House of Representatives especially among the APC lawmakers as we are now one family. Although, we had issues in recent time but it was later resolved amicably. The crisis has to do with the speakership tussle between Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara. Certainly, it was a political contest one must loose and one must win. Since the winner has emerged and we have congratulated him and the looser has been compensated, that was why we all decided to end war and embrace peace. All the factions have collapsed to one and there are no more crises again. In the first instance, we were all elected as members of the House of Representatives not as speakers or leaders of the House. That is the fact we understand and it is what keeps us going. We have settled down for legislative business.
With the recent crisis in the House of Representatives, do you think the National Assembly is ready to support President Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade?
Yes, we are ready to give the maximum support to the President on the fight against corruption. Fighting against corruption was the bedrock of the change we were yearning for before the 2015 general elections. It is our resolution to follow the acts of the National Assembly especially the appropriation bill to the letter. We are going to ensure that the ministries, agencies, and departments are to be strengthened because by the time we have a good budget performance, it will help to know where we are getting it wrong over the years. In the area of overheads, where we have different kind of people taking government money for personal use, the National Assembly and the presidency have begun scrutiny in ensuring that we have more money for capital projects. By the time the President went through the ministries and the agencies in collaboration with the National Assembly, we are going to get more young people employed. National Assembly is also trying to look at the laws that will strengthen the more all the anti graft agencies such as Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, so that they can perform their duties effectively.
Close to 20 states in the country today cannot afford to pay salaries of their workers, what is the National Assembly doing to help the affected states?
Even before Mr. President talked about the bail out for the affected states, there was a motion in the National Assembly to support the affected states. But we needed to get to the base of the whole issue. The truth is that it is dangerous as most of the states in Nigeria are not financially viable. They cannot financially stand on their own without the federal allocation. That is why we are talking of diversifying of our economy from oil. We have to take it as a serious issue to invest in agriculture since we have a very good climate in Nigeria. So, we can make use of it and ensure that our states invest very massively in agriculture. We have been emphasising on the issue of agricultural development for many years and it seems our governors are not taking it serious but with the present situation especially the dwindling oil money from Abuja, they will all take a step to look for another means to care of their workers.
Is the arrest and prosecution of looters especially the opposition the only change Nigerians should expect from the Buhari administration as it seems to be the only thing dominating his utterances today?
I can tell you authoritatively that the anti corruption mantra of this administration is not meant to witch-hunt anybody but to get Nigeria back on track. We have process and procedures. If any member of my party is guilty of any case, such person should be ready to face the music. Fighting corruption is one of the promises Mr. President made to Nigerians prior to the general elections and he is doing it with the fear of God. During his inauguration speech, he made it clear that he is for everybody and for nobody. So, President Buhari will make Nigeria to work again, let’s just give him time. What is the National Assembly doing to ensure that states trying to get loan don’t bite more than they can chew? What we are doing is to ensure that both the Federal Government and the state government follow the international procedures when it comes to the issue of loan. States in particular must have met the requirement before going for any loan. Meanwhile we are always ensuring that the states applying for loans are using it for developmental projects and not for paying outstanding salaries.
What should the people of your constituency expect from you in the next four years?
The first thing is to empower my people most importantly as the rate of unemployment is very high in the country. Although we did it in the last regime but we have decided to build on that by ensuring that youths are being empowered. The areas where I am looking at include tailoring, barbing, hairdressing, computer science, catering and other vocational and entrepreneur businesses. Secondly, I plan to facilitate people oriented projects for the people of my constituency like I did in the past. Thirdly, recently I sponsored a motion that will impact positively in the lives of Nigerians and that has to do with the establishment of National Assembly broadcast station. It will be broadcasting our proceedings during our sittings. That will avail our people the privilege to see their representatives in the House and how they are fairing. This starts from plenary to committee and oversight functions. This is very important because many people believe we are not really doing anything in Abuja but with the establishment of the broadcast station for the National Assembly, our people will be able to see what we are doing and how busy we are. These are the basic things we are looking at but as time goes on, I will look at other things I will do to support the masses.
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