Tension Will Continue To Abound In Nigeria – Wakili | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Tension Will Continue To Abound In Nigeria – Wakili

Wakili  2
Posted: Oct 12, 2016 at 3:15 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Senator Ali Wakili representing Bauchi South Constituency, in this interview with select journalists including PATIENCE OGBODO-IWUAGWU speaks on the withdrawal of forgery case against the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, the alleged demand of exotic cars and houses from Governor Mohammed Abubakar by Bauchi federal lawmakers, among other issues. Excerpts:

How far has the President gone in his fight against corruption?

When President Buhari was campaigning, one of his cardinal principles was to do away with corruption. You have seen his determination to do away with corruption. You have seen the various reports coming out of the security fund, the campaign funds among others. You have also seen people that seem to be above the law are being questioned. He is determined to tackle corrupt practices. You have to determine it through transparency and accountability. That is, if you have to do away with corruption permanently. I think the President’s fight against corruption is very commendable.

So many reputable companies are folding up and laying off their workers. It was reported recently that over five million Nigerians have lost their jobs since the inception of this administration. What are the implications of this to the image of the country?

The implication is very obvious; that everybody is suffering, that our security is being threatened and that the tension will continue to abound within the country. But, I don’t know where you got this your statistics. Sometimes these statistics are very bogus. Maybe it came from the opposition camp to use it to blackmail the All Progressives Congress (APC). I don’t know the veracity of this five million. But what I know is that it is not within the last 18 calendar month that this has happened. These are accumulated effect of the bad governance. The way out is for me and you to ensure that there is good governance, to ensure that there is transparency and accountability in the running of affairs of the country. The way out is to ensure that we diversify our economy, to ensure that this local industry are really local industry, not a situation where you import 95 percent raw materials and you add five percent value and you said you are running a local industry, that is part of our problem.

Recently, Governor Mohammed Abubakar alleged that the National Assembly members from Bauchi State were fighting him because he turned down their request to purchase exotic cars and houses for them. How true is this allegation?

It’s very unfortunate and very scandalous that such statement is coming from a state chief executive that is expected to be more honest than all of us. This is because whatever he says can trigger a chain of reactions.  Unfortunately, I have said it before; if the sender of the message is deranged, the recipients of the message are in control of their senses. Where has it ever happened in the state that governors purchase houses for the legislatures? We learnt that during the first and second tenure of former Governor Adamu Muazu, in line with his inclusiveness, he bought certain vehicles for the legislators. We also learnt that during the first term of Isa Yuguda, he bought vehicles for legislators. But, we have not heard where they bought houses. I have said it that on my own, that I have never discussed any issue of exotic cars with the governor of Bauchi State. I have never, either alone or in consultation with the caucus, requested for any house from the governor of Bauchi State. That is his way of blackmailing us. It is very unfortunate.
Our problem with  the governor hinges on our demand for good governance. Whether we like or not, we don’t like what is happening in the state. It is not those of us from the National Assembly that are pelting the governor. If you go through the messages, out of the 36 state governors, how many of them are be pelted around. We all came on a popular trend. What we are saying is that we should be accountable. Let the resources of Bauchi State be accounted for. Let it be used for the wellbeing of the people of the state. I was the one that printed the quantum sum of money that Isa Yuguda in eight years was receiving from the Federation Account, both for the state and local governments. I was the one that gave it to Barrister M.A. Abubakar when we were campaigning. We all promised that if by the grace of God we were elected, we would ensure that we have a democratic local government system in place and that we shall channel all local government funds directly to the local governments.
Unfortunately, the governor has reneged on that. He constituted a caretaker committee without consulting us. If all of us are stakeholders, this caretaker committee must be constituted in consultation with us. We are the critical stakeholders. Secondly, our quarrel with him is that, his words are not his honour. I was one of those that championed his nomination and I worked and God granted our request. When we were campaigning, there were certain promises we made to our party members immediately we got the nomination. There was a little bit of gambling. When I accosted him, he said these were political promises. Because of my moral and religious upbringing, I rejected it.
Thirdly, we promised that we would not tamper with the district heads created and the hamlets created by the administration of Isa Yuguda. Suddenly, as of today, the people have been chased out. When we complained, he said it was the opposition in the state House Assembly that sponsored the bill. He even said that he did not sign it. How could an Assembly of about 31 members, with 29 of them coming from the ruling party have a bill sponsored by the opposition and you as a governor from a ruling party, you accented to it? We are daily deviated from the fellowship we used to have in the party. For example, from Tafawa Balewa Local government where I came from, 70 of these village heads were affected. You are deviating from the promises of the party. Traditional and religious leaders are vital in the politics of Bauchi State. They are the ones on the pulpit that can preach this ‘Change’ and ensure that it comes to pass. When some of them decided to call you to order, you find some charlatans to go and degrace them. Where are we going?

What other issues would you point out?

The state is purely an agrarian and civil service state. The artisans, the traders, the economy hinge on this. When we were campaigning, we agreed that we would settle all emoluments, salaries, allowances and pensions and we had the opportunity. The federal government was gracious. They gave us bail-out. He took loan of N4million. But today, there is unending verifications. As of October, all the local government workers in the state are being owed three months salary and they are still going on with this verification. When are we going to end this verification? So, the traders, workers, farmers, artisans, he has abandon them. Who are going to vote for us?
He has spoken so many times at different places why he has been having problems with the members of the National Assembly. First, he said it was because he refused to allow us to appoint commissioners. Secondly, he also said it was because he refused us to nominate the caretaker committee members. At  different fora, he said it was because he did not stand by the Speaker, Hon Yakubu Dogara, that we are quarreling  with him. Again, he said it was because some of us have gubernatorial ambition.
Now, he has come up with the issue of exotic cars. He has even gone beyond that limit of reasons to incite the citizens, as chief executive of the state, against members of the National Assembly. At the flag off of road construction recently at Azare, he told citizens of Bauchi State that they should ask us to come and show what we have brought to the state. He told them to ask us where we spending the bogus money they are given us. It is very sad. I have respect for the office he occupies. I have respect for his age because he is older than me. But, he his actions are unbecoming of somebody of his position. You don’t rely on rumours or the facts you don’t know. The salary of the National Assembly can be gotten from the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission. But sadly, my salary is not more than N774,000. If you go on the social media, it is his cohorts that are telling Buhari people to ask us to account for N38million that we are being given as monthly salary as Senators and N28million for the members if House of Representatives. These are lies, these are cheap blackmail.
Even if you use common sense, the 2016 budget of National Assembly is N115billion. If you multiply N38million by 109 senators by  12 calendar months, your are getting close to N52 billion. If you multiply N28million by 360 members of House of Representatives by 12 calendar months, you will get over N70billion. So, if you add N52billion and N70 billion, it amounts to N132billion. You can see that even the deficit in the budget, these are only the members of the National Assembly. Then how do you pay for the recurrent expenditure of the National Assembly itself? How do you pay their salary? Where do you get that money from?
Secondly, we have the National Assembly Service Commission that has its own bureaucracy. They are the ones that are the employees of our aides. Each senator has five aides. Each House member has five aides. Then multiply five by 360 and five by 109. We have the Nigerian Institute of Legislative Studies. They have their own capital project and recurrent expenditure and their own salaries. We have the Public Complaints Commission. They are taking everything under the National Assembly. So, if you look at it, the budget is N115billion. There have not been releases, and you are saying that the legislatures are taking this and that. These are cheap blackmail unbecoming of somebody that occupies an exalted office. As a governor and as a lawyer, I am disgusted with his behaviour. He should know that the constitutional role of legislators is to ensure that the laws of Nigeria state are strengthened with a view to ensure that there are good governance, to ensure the security and well-being of the people. If he doesn’t know, the money of the MDGs, are they not coming from the coffers of the federal government? The N428million grant given to him for the health projects, are they not coming from the coffers of the federal government? The UBEB counterpart fund funding, are they not coming from the federal government? Are we not the ones that are appropriating them? Those are the question I want to ask him?

What do you think are his challenges as a governor?

On the challenge, let me tell him that it is because of our performance that he discovered he is a novice in governance. He is jittery and does not know what to tell the people. Look at the 2016 budget, look at the road, the federal government has advertised in Bauchi State. Are you trying to say that the Police College that the federal government has budgeted over N148billion to be sited at Kafinmadaki in Bauchi State is not coming from the federal budget? Are we not the ones behind all these success? It is unfortunate that the governor is inconsistent.  I wish you people can take the challenge to create a dialogue between I and Mohammed Abubakar, so that you moderate. Then, I will show him what we are doing. You don’t need to incite people against us. There is time for everything. The time to talk will come when we will ask him to be accountable. We know the money that comes from the federal coffers.  We are the true representatives of the people.
I am saying it with the fear of God, our difference with M.A. Abubakar is not over our selfish interests. It is over our state. All the aspects of the society have been alienated. Bauchi is a nucleus of politics. Bauchi has the greatest respiratory bureaucrats. But, he wants to be above all. If he think he will blackmail us, by the grace of God, I have access to all private and international media to speak my mind even if he shuts me out of the state. If he has anything, he should confront me and I will remind him when he was begging me and Dogara to support him to become the party flag bearer. But today, he is not carrying anybody along. You don’t play politics that way. There must be inclusiveness. You don’t need to be reminding people who you are everyday.  Outside the presence of the chamber, I have never told anybody I am a Senator. All these things are chilling and unbecoming of a chief executive of a state to come out and lay wild allegation to blackmail people cheaply. There are better ways to blackmail us.

Are you speaking for yourself or on behalf of the National Assembly members from Bauchi?

You are speaking to me as Mallam Ali Wakili. You are not speaking to me as a member of Bauchi caucus. But whatever I say is in their defence. I am speaking on their behalf. I have said it that neither I nor any one of them have requested for such kind of things in our various meetings. I want to challenge the governor to come out with a letter that we presented to him which contains the 16 issues we discussed with him if the issues of vehicles and houses are there. We gave him a written document. Even what we gave the President and the party were in written form. So he should provide it so that we can crosscheck and see if any personal issues have been brought. There must be decency even when we are playing politics.