‘Scramble for positions at NASS normal’
Jostling not crisis
I don’t think that what is happening can be described as a crisis. What is playing out is a normal occurrence in a party. There is a saying that the battle to win elections sometimes may not be as strong as the battle to share positions after victory.
The reason is that in politics, everybody has an interest, groups have their interest, regions have their interest and in an attempt to balance these interests, you have to be careful in allocating positions and this case is particularly very critical because the party is just metamorphosing from the position of an opposition to the leading party at the national level.
It is the first time this is happening so it is a huge responsibility that has fallen on the shoulders of the leaders of the APC.
A lot of people have indicated interest but up till now, there is no in-fighting anywhere. That is why I believe that there is no crisis yet; it is scheming, which is normal in politics for people to represent their constituencies very well.
For instance, we in the South-South believe that we made serious contributions to the emergence of APC. We may not have produced the numbers that other regions were able to bring together, but the people need to realize that the former president is from South-South.
The implication of that is that the pressure here was much higher than the pressure in any other geo-political zone because the president wanted to get the whole of his own zone. So they did everything possible to get that; from Akwa-Ibom down to Edo state, they wanted everything, they did everything humanly possible to get that.
The amount of money that entered the South-South during that election is unprecedented in the history of elections in this zone.
The physical presence of very powerful members of PDP, the power brokers of PDP as well as professionals like media house owners and some other people who had enough power and resources to make sure they deliver the South-South yet in the face of those daunting challenges, we were still able to produce some reasonable results.
Like in Edo state, it would have been difficult if not for the exceptional contributions of the Comrade Governor and the APC members in this state for us to get even 25 per cent for Mr. President, yet we did more than that so we expect that our colleagues in the NASS as well the leaders of our party should consider the peculiar situation of Edo people and people of South-South during that election.
That we manage to produce what we have produced so far is an indication that we are seriously committed and we have made input into the growth of APC that eventually led to where we are today as the leading party in this country.
The same way, the Northeastern people will say they have been badly marginalized under the leadership of the former president because of their commitment to opposition right from time and they equally want to be represented when it comes to sharing of the national offices. Even in the Southeast where you have only one member, they equally want to be considered.
It is the whole of these activities that many think it is crisis, it is not a crisis at all; it is normal, it is what we should expect but my happiness again is that the leadership of our party has clearly shown that there is a departure from what it used to be, they are not ready to dictate to the House but that is not say however that the idea of zoning has been jettisoned. We believe that with proper zoning, we are going to have some sense of balance and that the best candidates in such locations will be given the opportunity to serve.
Expectations from NASS
We expect a national Assembly that has the character of APC as the dominant party because if you look at the former dispensation, you will see that the states where we had APC governments, the level of development is higher than many other states; you see what is happening in Edo State, in Imo State, in Rivers State, in Lagos State and several other states under the APC. You will discover that despite that some of these states don’t have as much revenue as some other states, they are still able to bring about serious infrastructure development, very remarkable human capital development. For me that is an indication that there are more progressives in APC than any other party and now that APC has got the opportunity to replicate what they have done at state levels, at the federal level, Nigeria stands a better chance so when it comes to National Assembly, we are looking at a more transparent dispensation, we are looking at lawmaking that places the ordinary Nigerians interest as the central focus, we are looking at a more inclusive approach to lawmaking and we are looking at coming out with legislations that directly address the challenges of our people, legislations that are relevant to national development.
Solving oil industry crisis
Over the years, efforts have been made to sanitize the oil industry. What my personal experience has shown is that sanitizing the oil and gas industry will require strong commitment of the number one citizen of this country. When you say there is mess in the oil industry, it is not just NNPC GMD, or the MD of one subsidiary or another, it is political mess, the mess is in Aso Rock, the thieves are actually in Aso Rock because NNPC management cannot steal and divert money un-noticed, some people give them cover so until we have a government that is ready to free NNPC to operate and ready to sanction anybody in NNPC that misbehaves, it will be difficult for us to clean the oil and gas industry. But the first major step that we can take as a group is the passage of the PIB bill that we are already working on that is why you see that there so much politics about the PIB. I asked this question sometimes ago who actually wants PIB? It is the ordinary Nigerian; the government has not demonstrated much interest in PIB. You start PIB and along the line, you get frustration from left, right and centre because a whole lot of leakages will be blocked.
Reducing cost of governance
I agree that the cost of governance is high. First and foremost, we have a big government. There are too many political appointments all over the country beginning from local government to state government to the federal level. There is need to trim the size of our government. In terms of operation, there is need to think of how to cut the cost of operation and every other cost that is associated with governance. We must play by the rule in this country. But the way to go about it is to look at it professionally and not to base it on speculations.
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