Do you think that your performance will grant you the trust and confidence of the people of Adamawa central and lead you to victory in 2023?
Everybody in Adamawa state can attest that I have done well as a Speaker and a lawmaker representing my constituency with so many projects and achievements on ground to showcase, which i believe, will take me to Senate in 2023. I have done more for my people more than most Senators and Reps. That is why i challenged some of them on projects to tell me what they have done, especially, in my constituency. I challenged the incumbent member representing my constituency in the National Assembly who is the only member in the history of the constituency to be elected for second term and now going for third term on projects, to see if he has done 30 percent of what i have done for the people of my constituency. If you are talking about my constituency, yes I have done more than enough for my people to be a Senator. If you are talking about Adamawa central as a whole, I have not been a Senator; I’m still a member of the State House of Assembly but I have done well as Speaker and most of the laws we passed, approval granted and over 60- 70 percent of the money we spend in this government, is in Adamawa central.
Adamawa Assembly over the years was always known to be rancorous but in the last three and half years the House has witnessed stability even on issues that ordinarily should have polarised it. How did you achieve that?
There is nothing secret about it, the only thing is that everything is open. Whatever you are told, if you go and find out, you would realise that it’s like that. Everything I’m doing it is open. I always put it on the table and give everybody the opportunity to participate and make inputs, that is why there is no rancour in the assembly and I’ve been able to stabilise the assembly.
Even those that were suspended were given the opportunity. For instance, there was a particular member we declared his seat vacant, before that action, I went to him around 1 to 2am to tell him that he should forget this thing. His seat will not be declared vacant and only in the morning, I was told that thugs took over the Assembly that we want to declare his seat vacant. That’s why we said, ok, if by bringing thugs, you think u can stop us, let’s see. That is why we declared his seat vacant. Why should somebody take advantage of someone that is open and transparent. Let me tell you, I don’t just wake up and declare a seat vacant. If i want to declare a seat vacant or suspend a member, I make sure that, 60-70 percent of members want the seat to be declared vacant or member suspended, not me. That is why there is no rancour, because everything in the house is being discussed. Of course, there will be dissenting voices but the majority will have their way and minority, their say.
But most people believe that the present House of Assembly is always doing the bidding of the executive, especially, on this suspension, and approval of unnecessary loans, particularly, Agric loan of 100billion which have further indebted the state and failure to checkmate the excesses of the executives. What is your reaction to this?
What people don’t know is that our own House is autonomous for over 13 months now so. We don’t depend on executives for funding, I mean completely autonomous. We manage our funds and decide what to do and what not to do with our resources. So it is not a question of somebody taking advantage of us.
Among the state Houses of Assembly it is only Adamawa and Plateau states that have taken the advantage of autonomy to be independent of the executives and we took this decision to strengthen democracy and protect the institution of the legislature. Other States also have the opportunity to do so, but by the time they look at what the autonomy will give them comparing to present arrangement, they felt it is better to stay in their comfort zone. What people don’t know is that our own House is autonomous, it is not a House that depends on the executive for funding. That is the mistake people are making saying that they are giving us money. Our own House has been autonomous for over a year now, 13 to 14 months back. I mean completely autonomous. We run the House ourselves, we manage our funds and decide what to do and what not to do with our funds. So it is not a question of someone taking advantage of us.
On the issue of loans and Agric bond, this kind of loan is the first of its kind in Nigeria and I told you that I’m an accountant, I mean a chartered accountant and a fellow of the Institute of Accounting as well as a member of a professional committee. So you should know that before I put my hand in this thing, i study it very well and know what it is all about. Kaduna has done their own on land, we are doing our own on agric. Lets start our own and take advantage of what we have. Even if the thing fails, it is part of life, if the thing succeeds, it is still part of life. Even those that were opposed to it, did not give us any tangible reason. All what they said is that the thing might fail, not that the thing will fail. So it is only when the IGR does not go up the way we want, that is when people should have a cause to worry. The bond is not even N100billion, the 100billion is for four years, you can only access N25 billion and if N25 billion fails, other money will not come and if it succeeds, another government can continue with it. Let me tell you something, when we came newly, we the lawmakers asked the governor to access loan because at the end of the month, the governor hardly have N40 million. it was always between N15 million to N20 million.
Even some local governments will have more resources than the state government after FAAC, JAC and everything. That was why it took us six months to start giving appointment so we have to re-engineer the finance and restructure the loans. When we started restructuring the loans people started saying that we have taken loan even the restructuring we did, people said they have taken loans again and we asked them which loan? For instance, there is a loan of N30bn which we supposed to be paid in 5 years we said no, it should be paid in 25 years, any bank that is not ready to follow us or restructure the loan sell the loan to another bank. It is either you restructure or we allow other banks take them over.
That is how we succeeded to restructure all the loans and government started getting money for development projects even at that, the money could not take care of our development needs so we asked the government to access loan but they should pay it within the period of their tenure. So the money the administration borrowed was N15billion. I can tell you as of today, the money has been cleared using portion of the bond. When we are restructuring people should try to understand what the House is doing because most people don’t understand the workings of the legislature.
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