Kogi Has Become Political Laboratory – Former Speaker

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In this interview with ONYEDIKACHI ONYEANUNA, the former speaker of the House of Assembly and one time acting governor of the state, Hon Abdullahi Bello, said the confluence state has become a political laboratory for testing absurdities that cannot be found in the constitution.

There were reports that you were erroneously removed as member of the house by the court of appeal, what actually happened?

Our judicial system is such that once a sitting judge made an error especially if the court happens to be the last court of judgment, they asked you to go to the Supreme Court. The panel of judges who sat over my judgment did not have the jurisdiction to take on the issue of party primaries from someone who never participated in the primaries or main elections. The court went ahead to give judgment in spite of abundant facts available to them, they turn the other eye and made the pronouncement that we should go for a fresh elections. But we have gone back to court and we are awaiting the judgment.

What are your chances now?

We are back at the tribunal and hopeful the judgment will favor us. Meeting the people for votes is not a problem for people like me because I have grassroots support. I have won elections three times without violence or rigging. Since we join the APC, we have brought lots of prominent people to our constituency and our people believe that we can give them the dividend of democracy.

You are not the only legislator facing judicial problem, a few have also complain of unfair judgment, but with what you have been through, how do you feel about our judicial system?

You cannot divorce the judicial actors form the Nigerian state itself. The judges are Nigerian citizen and they have the Nigerian culture so when you talk about economic and judicial corruption, it is prevalent everywhere. It is unfortunate that judicial officers who should uphold the law now turn it against the common man. There are some judges in the judiciary who don’t care about the consequences of their judgment. In my case, my people will be really effected if this unfair judgment is allowed to stay. I don’t know any of these judges. I don’t believe in bribing judges to get judgment when I know that I am on my right

Do you think corruption has anything to do with the ruling?

Yes, if it was not corruption, there is no way justice Abiri and the rest will upturn my elections. If that case is to go to the Supreme Court, they will have upturned their judgment because they don’t have jurisdiction to hear that matter

Your governor, Bello also have cases in court with the PDP and Falake, what is your take on what is playing out since he took over?

Kogi is a very special case in this country where so many strange things happen most of the time. In 2012 we had two governors at a time where I was on acting capacity. We have two speakers now, the same party taking themselves to court. Kogi has become a political laboratories for testing absurdities that cannot be found in the constitution. On Falake, he is my very good friend and Bello happened to be   a brother. So politics has brought us all together and I have been trying to see how reasons can prevail.  Where I realized the issue has escalated is that, the party at the national level did not handle the matter of appointing Bello well. When Abubakar Audu died, I have expected the party to invite those who campaign with him for a dialogue before they take a decision, which added insult to injury.

There is no doubt that Falake brought in a lot of glamour, resources and goodwill to the campaign. They tour all the nooks and cranny of the state for the elections. I followed them even though I had lost my wife then. The party leadership should have put these factors into consideration. If we had good engineers in the party when Audu died, these issue of APC taken APC to court wouldn’t have risen even if the party had decided that Bello was going to be the governor…

The APC seems to be finding it hard to manage its success judging by the cases in the senate, and states like your own. Don’t you think this could destroy the party?

The APC leadership to me has not really shown that they have learn from the mistake of PDP. Secondly they have not really shown the nation that they are really prepared for the change slogan that we campaigned with. The final demise of PDP was when the party ignored everybody like the governors and other party faithful. Back then, they thought they were inconsequential but by the time you add up all these inconsequential people, they formed half of APC today. So this issue at the national assembly is very serious, everybody matters. If you have twelve children in a family and three are unruly, if you ignore them that they are not important, their shout alone will because you lots of embarrassment from the neighbors and people will become curious and conclude you are wicked. I think APC should handle this crises with care. I am not saying you should not deal with people who have run afoul of the law but we must not be vindictive.

As a former speaker of the state house of assembly, what is your take on the on-going crises in the house of Assembly?

I will always stand by the general principles of the constitution. I was brought up by a very courageous father who always stand by his conviction and this has become a part of me.  In 2013 or there about when attempts was made to impeach me by some members, the current speaker who is facing this crises was the huge beneficiary of that absurdity in Kogi. We rose up to the challenge and insist that, twelve cannot be greater than thirteen. We stood our ground and because they couldn’t get open third then, they couldn’t remove me. But before we weather the storm, prominent leaders like Obasanjo came and spoke with me, I decide to sacrifice my position and step down on my own so that the governor then, Wada will have his way. I wanted peace for myself and my people. So I believe that this is the stand politicians should learn to take in Nigeria. Look at what happen in Britain recently where the prime minister led the nation in a domestic affair and he took responsibility by resigning.  I stand by the rule of law and due process. To me, Jimoh Lawal is the speaker and even if they want to impeach him, they should wait until the house has fully convene and the due process of impeachment is carried out. People wonder why I would take that stand after what he did to me, but what is wrong is wrong and I won’t support illegality because it was done to me. We must stand by the truth. Let’s allow him to recall the house and if the member still insist that they want to impeach him, then let it be. The members decide what they consider as offence. Kogi should not be used a state of absurdity where everything goes, where the end justifies the means.

The state governor  has been criticized on how he is handling the finances of the state after getting bailouts. How will you assess him?

I think Bello is trying because any effort of any man is something. He has said there are ghost workers in the state which every state is battling with. We should not deny the fact that resources have dwindled. I heard that there was a huge error on the part of those he appointed to verify the workers because some person were unjustly victimized. I think he should go back to their recommendations because some of these people are directors, senior officers and they people have been working for over ten to fifteen years. So how can you come out in one day and say these persons are ghost workers? They have families to take care of and other responsibility. I am not saying illegality should be tolerated but the truth is that some of these people were real workers. Pensioners too are suffering. Beside the state need experience people. No institution discard experience people and hope to succeed.  We need those old hands close to us. I think my governor must realized that experience and wisdom are not things you can buy in the market. He needs all the support he can get form elders and experience people.

Coming back to the state of the nation, the economy has been goings in to recession, do you think it is being handled well by the present administration?

Nigerian economy is part of the global economy. Ours become worrisome because we have a monolithic situation in this country. Over the years, we have had successive leaders who never bother to diversify the economy because they didn’t know it will come this way. We have potential in Nigeria in term of agriculture and mineral resources.  But we have become lazy because of oil so it is a good thing that oil has fallen, let it fall to $10 per barrel so that we will sit up and start looking at other things. We have not discover our potentials. Take the case of Iron Ore as example, do you know that since 1983 or there about, out of forty six component unit of Ajaokuta, forty three were concluded. We talk of wire rod mill and the rest. They have been wasting there for years the Russians built three tarmac plant in Ajaokuta, one of it as at the time I was there, it was supplying electricity to the whole of Ajaokuta and the environments, if that plant was working now, it would have been giving light to Kogi state and  two other states. But because we have oil that is bringing money every month and we come to Abuja every month to share money, nobody cares about Ajaokuta. Look at the Dangote cement factory, Obajana. If Nigeria is serious, we can two more companies come and create factories because the lime stone is enamors. If we have been encouraging industrialist to come in, it would have generated employment and development. These would have reduce crime and terrorism. APC meet Nigeria in a dying condition and Buhari is trying to revive it. Our situation is like that of America when Obama first came in, he meet their economy in  recession but today, their economy is a bit comfortable, and Obama is leaving the economy as a buoyant economy. If we follow Buhari vision, Nigeria will come out stronger. The presidency too need to let Nigerian know where they are taking the country to because eth channel of communication between the government and people is very poor.

Are you contented with the way the federal government is handling the issue of the Niger/delta avengers and the Farmers/herdsmen clashes?

We should look at the issue of insecurity a critically. Who are these herdsmen and who are these avengers?  Why it is that it is when the boko haram is being subdued that they are springing up? These killing is spreading to places like Lagos, Enugu and the rest. These avengers, we need to ask them who they are avenging. Who killed any member of their families that they’re using it to avenge? Are they avenging that the ministry of Niger/delta have been given to them or that they are being giving 13% derivation or it si the NDDC that was created for them? What are they avenging?  I think those who called themselves herdsmen, avengers and the rest are all members fo the same group out to destroy this country.

Credit: Leadership


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