Part-Time Lawmaking Not Solution To Nigeria’s Problems – Tarkigh | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Part-Time Lawmaking Not Solution To Nigeria’s Problems – Tarkigh

Part Time Law making
Posted: Sep 26, 2016 at 3:25 am   /   by   /   comments (9)

* ‘Jibrin  Making  False Allegations  Because  He Was Sacked’

Dickson Tarkigh is a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Benue State representing Makurdi/Guma Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives. In this interview with TOR VANDE ACKA, he opens up on the issue of budget padding; ranching, legislating on part time basis; governance in Benue State, recession: the way out and why he abandoned the PDP for APC at the twilight of the 2015 general elections. Excerpts:

Recently we had the issue of budget padding rocking the National Assembly , was there actually anything like that in the House of Reps?

I’m a member of the Appropriation Committee and I represent the Benue Caucus on the Appropriation Committee, so I know exactly what went on in the 2016 budget and I can tell you there was nothing like padding in the budget. First and foremost, Nigerians must understand that the National Assembly constitutionally is the only body saddled with the responsibilities of making budgets. Budget is a law just like any other law. So what the Executive does is to bring estimates to the National Assembly. What the Executive brings to the House is not a Budget but Budget Proposals. So the only people that are responsible for either adding or subtracting into a budget are members of the Assembly. Look I come from Makurdi/Guma for instance, my people may have desire for healthcare centres, some for classrooms or we may want to build an orange processing plant because orange is a product we have in abundance in Benue state. So, if that is what my people desire, I will lobby my colleagues that such a project should be built or cited in Benue state and we will work together to achieve that in my state. The person from a particular state knows what is better for his people. We are better positioned to advise the Executive on where whatever project should be cited. So we have the power to veer certain projects away from where the Executive suggested it should be cited. I know that the budget we passed is lower than the estimate that was brought to us by the Executive. The budget is law, it goes through all the processes of making laws just like any other law and the privilege of the National Assembly within the chamber to make laws are there. It’s not right to state, after we have passed a bill and the Executive signs it; then you come out to say it is padding. That word does not exist anywhere in our laws. So we cannot be seen to have padded any law.

Aside that, the then Chairman of the Appropriation Committee, Abdulmumin Jibrin also accused the House leadership of fraudulent activities, don’t you think allegations from such a person should be taken seriously?

I think I should take you back to the month of March when we passed the 2016 budget. The then Chairman of the Appropriation Committee stoutly defended the 2016 budget. The clips are there and the newspaper cuttings are there for you to refer to. Jibrin, who was the then Chairman of Appropriation defended the budget. He said there was no padding. If you recall, he said that the National Assembly worked with the Executive to pass the budget and nobody had any reason to complain. So, for him to come out now and suggest that what he said then was a lie and what he is saying now is the truth is left for Nigerians to discern which is the truth. I don’t want to believe that Nigerians will believe what he had said earlier when he defended the budget was all lies and what he is saying now is the truth. Those statements are emanating from the fact that he is no longer the Chairman of the Appropriation Committee. That is why he is making such allegations. Like I said, I’m a member of the Appropriation Committee and I know that there was no padding in the budget as he is claiming.

 Are you alleging that he has an axe to grind with the leadership of the House?

Yes. That’s what it looks like, because if you defended the budget in March, what then changed your position between March and now?. What informed the change in argument between March and now? We should be discerning enough to know why he is changing his position.

The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is one Bill that has been with the National Assembly for some time now. Why has it been difficult to pass this Bill?

We are working on that bill. I was not in the 7th Assembly, I just came on in the 8th Assembly and I’m a member of the Downstream Committee. And it’s the Executive that has delayed that bill. There were certain aspects of the bill that the National Assembly had disagreed with but I think that overall, we are looking at definitely passing the bill this time around. There is an agreement at every arm of government that the bill needs to be passed so that we can actually develop and get rid of corruption in the sector.

 What’s your take on the call for lawmakers to be engaged on part-time basis?

I think it’s a laughable and self-defeatist idea that because we are experiencing difficulties now, lawmakers working on part time is the solution. It is never practiced anywhere in the world except in one country or so. But if you look at democracies that thrived, there is no democracy where lawmakers are on part time. Look, this is the outlook of the sessions in the National Assembly. When you go to the Assembly, you have time where you are in the chamber to make laws, you have time where you make budgets and then when the government brings money for your responsibilities at that time is to be able to do oversight on projects; at which point you’ll be going on oversight to see whether the budget you passed is being implemented to the latter. Even when we are in recess we go on oversight. So, I don’t think that part time is the solution to our problem. I think the problem with us Nigerians is that we don’t see that arm of government as a necessity and it’s quite sad because without the National Assembly the Executive can just decide to do whatever they want.  Let me give you an example. The budget for this year is about N6 trillion, out of that amount, the share of the National Assembly is N115 billion. That is about one or two percent of that budget. The Executive branch of government is to manage over N5 trillion. And yet Nigerians forget that the person managing N5 trillion has the tendency to create waste and mismanage resources than the person managing N115billion. I think there is a conspiracy on the part of the Executive to demean the image of the National Assembly, if not, from that amount, the Assembly pays staff, do paper works, pay for travel for oversight functions and trainings and so on. Aside that money, no other money comes into the National Assembly, not only that, you also pay the civil service bureaucracy that is domiciled in the Assembly from that N115 billion, yet Nigerians don’t query the Executive that is managing over N5 trillion, for instance in this budget. We should think and reason better than that.

You abandoned the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the eleventh hour to contest election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). What informed your decision?

I think a time came when our people were dissatisfied with what the PDP as a party in government was doing. Yes, I was in the PDP though at the lower rung of the party. I was not in any decision making position or organ of the government or party. A time came when my Governor in Benue state at the moment (Governor Samuel Ortom) who had worked at every level of the PDP said it was time to move. My leader, Senator George Akume had already left and there was need for us to also leave, and the country generally was tired of that party (PDP). At the time I left, I moved to a level where I can influence policy. That was the time to move and everybody was moving anyway.

 Are you fulfilled by moving to APC?

I’m fulfilled because I moved to a level where I can influence policy and interact with people to influence democracy dividends for my people. Things are difficult now but I think it’s going to get better soon.

The nation is in a recession, and your party is in control, do you think we will come out of this anytime soon or would you proffer any solution to this economic crisis?

I think that there is no alternative to the fact that we will come out of what we see happening. Several countries have gone through the same challenge that Nigeria is going through; it’s not peculiar to us. Like I said earlier, every oil dependent economic is suffering now, including the biggest oil producer Saudi Arabia. Remember that a couple of weeks back, India had to ferry food from India to some of their people working in Saudi because they had not been paid by the Saudis for seven months. That is the level the oil price crash has affected the oil dependent economies. Nigeria is not an exception. For me, I think it’s a blessing in disguise because for a very long time we neglected a whole lot of sectors that would have made our country great which were some of the things our fore fathers used to develop the institutions of this country; is it palm oil, rice, soya bean, cassava name them? They were used to build this country and when oil was discovered we allowed all that to go. Now there is the need for the government to think outside the box. There is the need for the government to go back to the basics. We are a huge agricultural country, people need us, and we shouldn’t be importing rice. We can be self-reliant on every product that we produce in the country. Government should be able to create incentives for farmers. And not only that, they should not allow products like rice to be imported into Nigeria at all. Let’s go back to farming our products and relying on them. We can get out of this and begin to export rice because we have the capacity to export rice at least to the West African corridor. Yes, we are in recession, but I’m thinking that if government follows through with the promise of diversification we will definitely get out of this. Nigerians should be patient with the government. The Federal government has consistently said that they are doing their best we are also hoping that oil prices will go up, but if they do not, it’s a matter of time, if we follow through the diversification policy we will be out of it. We have several mineral resources in this country, if we go back to those, in a short time we will be exporting them and that way, we will diversify our revenue base from oil.

You are representing Makurdi/Guma Federal Constituency. Unfortunately, Guma axis over the years has remained completely neglected in terms of infrastructural development. What are your plans for that area?

As we all know, the National Assembly is a lawmaking body but at the same time, we influence things through synergy. At the Federal level, I have tried so much this year to see that certain aspects of infrastructure are in this year’s budget. I have my share of the budget to be able to place classrooms, rural and township roads, healthcare centers in Guma Local Government. The good side is that my Governor is from Gbajimba and he is doing so much. If you go to that area now it’s no longer what you used to know. There is an ongoing road project that is leading to Makurdi and it would soon get here. The other is from Gbajimba through Daudu to Makurdi. So hopefully Gbajimba will be the town the people craved for. And our people also recognize that politics is local so we definitely need to develop our place, create awareness among our people and hopefully we will get there.

Comments (9)

  • Monsuru Bello Sep 26, 2016 at 12:54 pm Monsuru Bello

    What is the solution?

  • Nnaji Ikechukwu Sep 26, 2016 at 12:10 pm Nnaji Ikechukwu

    Make politics less attractive it will surprise that genuine leaders will come

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  • Nigeria News Pagess Sep 26, 2016 at 9:01 am Nigeria News Pagess

    i use to be concern about what dey say!

  • Oluwafemi Olorunda Sep 26, 2016 at 8:57 am Oluwafemi Olorunda

    Part-time lawmaking might not possibly be the solution to the Nigeria problems, but, atleast reduces the costs incur upon treasury. #JustmyStance

  • Newton Jewo Simeon Onos Sep 26, 2016 at 8:14 am Newton Jewo Simeon Onos

    No part time law making. Lawmakers Salary should be b/w 50/100 thousand naira monthly and all this killings and loothing will stop. Then people like us will go there and make real laws and d job will become more interesting.

  • Moses Odili Sep 26, 2016 at 8:05 am Moses Odili

    Join the Nigeria National youth congress.. lets come together as a youth in this country to fight for our right and have a youth representative in the seat of govt.. ain’t you tired of this old men and women ruling us.! Join our

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