There’re Many Rogues in The Eighth Senate –Abdulsalam | Independent Newspapers Limited
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There’re Many Rogues in The Eighth Senate –Abdulsalam

Posted: May 3, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

National Chairman of Labour Party (LP), Abdulkadir Abdulsalam, in this interview with Special Correspondent, DAVID ODAMA, spoke on the party’s readiness to provide the necessary opposition in view of the crippling state of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Excerpts:



With the seeming disarray of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after losing the last general elections, how ready is the Labour Party (LP) to play the role of vibrant opposition as the third most popular party in the country now? 

We are more than prepared. You asked the right question at an appropriate time, because, we resolved at our last meeting that we are going to play the real role of opposition, a role based on constructive criticism. We will praise them when they do well and criticise them positively when they do badly. We will take them on their promises, both the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the PDP. They have promised Nigerians to do a lot of things and they should be ready to honour these promises. Our opposition will be based on the ideals of social democracy, ideals that are humane, that believe in the people first. So, we are going all out to ensure that this opposition is real, factual and doable. You know the PDP has not played the role of opposition before. It is like asking the king and queen to play the role of opposition. It is like asking for impossibility. So, looking at all the political parties, we are likely to join hands with some to create the opposition network. But, when such parties are not forth coming, we will play our own role, because, we are qualified for it. We are trained for it, understand it and we will play it better.

Would you mobilise the elected PDP members to LP to enable you assume the status of the major opposition party?

We do not need to woo the PDP people because they are never reliable and dependable. If we woo them and they come in today, tomorrow, they will decamp. We will not do it. But if some of the credible ones, if there are, come to us, we can accept and accommodate them.

If the APC fails to resolve its zoning arrangements, do you foresee the PDP being given any of the leadership positions like the Senate President or Speaker?

Never! PDP has failed and can never be the same again. The party now lacks coherence, no leadership and no sense of commitment. This means they can never speak as one to choose among themselves. Even when they were in majority, they failed to use their number to get what the PDP-led executive wanted. So, they cannot do it now that they are in minority. The APC will manage itself. This is because where they (PDP) won majorly in the last election were where we, Labour Party, were rigged out. Unfortunately for us, most of our party men, who contested are from the South South; one each from the South East and South West. In Akwa Ibom, Governor Godswill Akpabio, used his influence to ensure that PDP was announced as winner of the elections. Also, in Ebonyi State, Anyim Pius Anyim used his position as Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF) to deploy government’s logistics in favour PDP. But, we are going to use the courts to throw them out and assume the major opposition party.

The President-elect, Muhammadu  Buhari, has  promised to pay unemployed youths N5,000 in one of his campaign promises. Do you think this is possible?

We have catalogued all the promises made by the APC. We won’t say anything now. But from May 29, we will begin to ask questions. Buhari, during his campaigns, gave timeline on when to expect miracles from his government and we expect them to keep to their words. However, our fears are: Buhari may have the capacity to fight corruption, but looking at the First 11 that surrounds him, he has to first investigate the source of their wealth. Such people include Tinubu, Bukola Saraki and many others. He has to have the capacity to investigate their source of income. Most disturbing is that as at today, 16 former governors, who have cases with the EFCC, are going to be in the Senate. The implication of this is that there are going to be rogues in the senate. Those who have broken the laws of this land are now going to the senate to make laws for the land.

Another very unfortunate thing is that even before they have taken office, they are already gagging the press. Nigerians must be informed that there is a difference between APC and its campaign organisation. The campaign organisation says NTA and AIT should not cover them, but APC says otherwise. This is contradictory. Taking a look at their zoning arrangement, we can state categorically that it has failed and that is why they have pushed it to after May 29. They are already in contradiction.

Does this translate to a gloomy picture for the country in the next four years?

No. The picture I painted is that we should watch to what extent they will fulfill their campaign promises. I have said that Buhari has the capacity to fight corruption. But he has to first fight his First 11. He must first look at the Senate, where there will be 16 ex-governors, most of who have cases with the EFCC so that Nigerians will truly believe that he is serious in his fight against corruption.

Imagine! The man he chose to lead his transition team, former Governor Timpreye Silver of Bayelsa State appeared in court only yesterday to answer to corruption charges. This is a minus for a man who wants to fight corruption.

Buhari, in a speech at the induction programme for legislators-elect, promised to cut down cost of governance. Let us assume he can do this with the Executive arm, do you think he can do same with the Judiciary and Legislature?

He can cut cost probably within the Executive arm, but may not be able to do so with the Judiciary and National Assembly. But, whether he wants to cut cost or not, this has become inevitable considering the downward slide of crude oil proceeds by the day.

Nigerians are afraid that by the time President Goodluck Jonathan hands over to Buhari, they may be in for tougher times, especially over fuel price. This fear stems from the inevitable removal of fuel subsidy since the 2015 budget recently passed by the National Assembly did not provide for fuel subsidy. How can the Buhari administration allay these fears?

I think Buhari, as a man of the people who was elected based on his popularity and not because he is in APC, will look at it critically and see what is possible that will give common Nigerians a fulfilment of their expectation for a better life. Removing fuel subsidy translates to buying oil at an exorbitant rate, which will not be conducive for an average Nigerian. That is not the expectations of the poor Nigerian masses. I do believe that on assumption of office Buhari may send a supplementary budget to the National Assembly to regulate that.

What is Labour Party doing to bring Nigerian workers into it?

That is the responsibility of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). We are going to start very soon to see how the party and NLC will work together. Nigerian workers already understand that the party belongs to them. When the NLC comes in, things are likely to change. The problem we have today is that NLC in every state of the federation supports the party in power in their respective states. That is why we are relating with the NLC and correcting this anomaly.

That takes us to the NLC. With the labour movement factionalised, how do you intend to bring the congress to support this grassroots mobilisation?

That is you assumption. To us in Labour Party, NLC is not factionalised. It is one under Ayuba Waba and it is recognised by the Federal Government and the entire workers, the local government workers, teachers, civil servants, medical health workers, nurses and a host of others who constitute the majority of workers in this country. You cannot consider somebody who is no longer a member as a leader of the NLC. Joe Ajaero has no membership. All the sectors he belongs to have been privatised. So, he has no members compared to any of these unions I mentioned. The Textile Workers Union that Ajaero bandies about has little or no members again in the textile industry. I advise him to go and make the textile industry boom again and stop playing politics all over the place. That is why we at the Labour Party drove him away. Immediately after the election, we congratulated Waba and sent a text to Ajaero, reminding him that he was not a labour man, but a journalist.