I Am Not An Abuja Politician – Wakili | Independent Newspapers Limited
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I Am Not An Abuja Politician – Wakili

Posted: Aug 5, 2016 at 3:24 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Senator Ali Wakili, lawmaker representing Bauchi South Senatorial District, in this interview with select journalists in Bauchi, spoke on the allegation of budget padding rocking the National Assembly among and developments in his state. PATIENCE IGBODO-IWUAGWU brings the excerpts:

What is your reaction to the allegation of budget padding rocking the National Assembly?

It is very unfortunate, though I am not a member of House of Representatives and I feel I should not join issues with those of them in that chamber. But I believe what should be at the front burner for now is that Nigerians are living in hardship, people hardly meet their end, people hardly feed, pay school fees, hospital bills, those are the issues that should occupy our mind.

Right now, people are in the rainy season and they are complaining of lack of fertilisers and other things, and that should occupy our mind and not political lies coming out from some people because they lost some privileges and they decided to come out to set the country ablaze. I don’t want us to belittle ourselves with this issue of padding. The budget has gone through the processes that even before the President assent to it, a special committee was set up between executive and the legislature, the two chambers were involved before the President assent to it. One thing I want us to understand is that all this issues we are raising is not that someone has stolen money and pocketed it. I want to state that as a representative in the House of Representatives, on the 2016 budget, we have never had it so good in terms of the constituency we represent and in terms of greater Bauchi state. The Federal Government has earmarked over N7billion to be spent on project within part of Bauchi South and Bauchi Central; that is a good omen for me, that is what is preoccupying my mind and not issue of padding. I don’t know what call padding is. It is political statement. Our people want a road and that road is in the budget, my priority is to bring development to our people. My concern is how do we help the federal government to garner enough resources so that the 2016 budget can be fully implemented and not all this issues that we are heating the polity with the political statement of padding. That is not what Nigerians want, they want to see food on their table, they want to see fertilizer and good infrastructure.

It was alleged by Hon. Jibrin that additional N40b was injected into the budget but the leadership of the House only announced N60billion on the floor of the House instead of N100billion, a situation some Nigerians described as corrupt practices within the House, what is your reaction on this?

The constitution is clear in terms of approving estimate brought by the executive. We have the power of appropriation. It’s just like my cap, if I decide to change it to the right direction, it is still on my head, the only different is that is on the right direction instead of left. But as I told you, I am not in the House of Representatives and I don’t want to join in the issue of Jibrin and his co travelers. Sadly, for those of them that are making this noise, how many times have they appear in the floor of the House? So, let us leave this issue because it’s a political brinkmanship. We are just trying to confuse Nigerians to take their problem away from them.

What is your reaction on the protest embarked by a group warning National Assembly members from Bauchi state not to get involved in the plan to impeach the President?

I want the public to know that Bauchi state lawmakers are in support of President Muhammadu Buhari but some interests within APC and the government became jittery because of the good work we are doing in the state. If every week people will witness the activities of Senator Ali Wakili in Bauchi South as the fact that he wants to have a good reach out to the constituency and a good feedback, then if somebody who is supposed to render a good leadership to ensure that our education system is rejuvenated, pensioners are paid, workers are paid as at when due but decided not to do that and decided to use some political miscreants to go on air to start castigating some of us, that is very unfortunate.

APC is a party that is very progressive, we are committed to ensure that the ordinary man enjoys dividend of democracy; that ordinary man knows the difference of the  past administration and the fact that we are trying to hinge on accountability and transparency and if we have to do it,  we have to start with ourselves and. If because you are the governor, you decided to call us Abuja politicians, I am not Abuja politician. Sometimes, I stay in this Bauchi more than the governor because I come to Bauchi every week and spend two to three days. The last time we had holidays, I spent my holidays here so nobody can call me Abuja politician, I came regularly and inform the public of what is happening on the floor.

What we are trying to say is that there must be good governance. We must sustain the support our people have for President Buhari. The amount of money that comes into the treasury is enough if we have an assessment need and if we are determine, that is the only problem we may be having with the state governor. We are not trying to dictate for him, what we are saying is that, we know how much comes to each state treasury in Nigeria and we know the liabilities we inherited. We are saying with good governance, we shall be able to settle this liability and stop putting blame on the past administration so that we can move forward.

The issue of bailout was there. The President was magnanimous and very humanistic by providing bail out. But it has not been used the way it was supposed to be used and unfortunately, the governor is trying to say he can use that money anyhow he wants. But we disagree with him. In the National Assembly we look into those things and we have already taken steps by advising the federal government and the federal government has rolled out some certain conditions so for you to access the bailout, you must put certain mechanism in places like TSA, IGR and others so that there will be transparency and accountability.