Hon Isa Muhammad Ashiru represents Makarfi/Kudan federal constituency in the House of Representatives. Speaking to Ruth Choji, the deputy chairman, house committee on appropriation discusses the insecurity and other developmental problems facing the country and the reasons why the current revenue sharing formula should be revised.
The state of insecurity and insurgency is getting worst, what is your take on this?
No right thinking person would not be worried. It has shown how bad things have become in this country. The issue of security is technical. It is something that we have to put our heads together to see that this menace is brought to an end.
How did Nigeria get to this stage in our nationhood and why is Kaduna mostly picked?
It started from Maiduguri not Kaduna and the thing is, government don’t know who they are fighting. In Kaduna, I would say that the state governor is doing his best and I really commend him. I believe that peace will return back to Kaduna.
There has been agitation for the creation of Kaduna South. Do you think it will stop the incessant attacks?
Why not? If it is for development, I will definitely support it. Many Nigerians are agitating for creation, we will support them. But if it is a sectional thing, we will not support it. I don’t think the problem in Kaduna has anything to do with religion or tribe. Our problem is not as people envisage, it is just an off shoot of what took place in Kano and other places like Maiduguri. When people think it is political, it is not right.
Northern elders have expressed their displeasure over the way government is handling the security situation. What is your take on it?
Well, they gave their reasons and they stated it clearly. The military have been fighting innocent citizens, it is not right to just go and start shooting people because of some few elements. The citizens of these states are having problems with their task force that have been sent there to give them security and the leaders of the north feel that the report they are getting is not good. It is now left for government to either withdraw them or think of how to address the issue of harassment and intimidation.
Some northerners are beginning to fear that this might be a grand design to destroy the north. Do you share that view?
People have the right to express their views and opinions. I don’t want to say what is not there, government don’t know this Boko Haram people, they don’t know who they are fighting and nobody is happy with the security situation in the north. People have been depraved from doing their businesses; banks close early, social life is completely grounded in the north. So, people will definitely have their opinions. What we need is to help government to stop the insurgency.
Some are suggesting that we return to regionalism where the states will be cancelled.
The issue is, people don’t really know what they want, if you begin to scrape this and wanting to have your own way, it is not going to work. We all know we have problems and we just have to sit down and address our problems.
What are our problems?
There is nothing new in Nigeria. People are becoming very difficult to govern and these are things that we need to address very fast. If you feel that the government in place cannot deliver, then follow the procedure and vote them out. We politicize things in Nigeria and government must create a forum of addressing these problems. People must come out and state this place so that we can find a way of solving them. We should identify them so that they can be expunged from the constitution. It was done in the 6th assembly and the president accented to it. The American system we are talking and following have been in place for hundreds of years. Our problem is that, we are in a hurry, but let us create a situation where those coming after us will be continuing. We should do things because one person somewhere wants it done. It must be a collective decision of Nigerians and we want to do things that will impact the lives of every Nigerian.
We just celebrated 13 years of uninterrupted democracy, would you say that Nigeria has arrived as a nation?
As far as I am concern, we have done our best. There were other systems before ours, but was truncated by the military. So for us to get to 13 years without any interruption is worth celebrating. Lots of things have been achieved since we started. Nigerians are now free to express themselves and also there have been remarkable achievement.
There has been renewed agitation for more revenue to northern governors. Are you supporting that?
In view of the disparity, there is a great yearning for a review of the revenue. For instance, the population of Kaduna state is about six to seven million people, the amount coming to the coffers of which is about four billion is not enough. But Bayelsa State population is about a million, agreed they produce the oil, what they take home is about nine billion naira. What justification do you have and what criteria are you using to apportion these resources? We know they have 13% derivation, yes, that one has been agreed. But we should be mindful of the fact that the number of people that exist in Kaduna state, I don’t see any reason why the disparity is so wide. We know they produce the resources that we use, but our resources were used to harness their resources. We must intervene to make sure that, the disparity is reduced to cater for everybody in the country. That is my personal opinion.
Most people have blamed PDP for the woes that have bedeviled the nation since 1999. What is your take on this?
Well, we have our own problems and in the cause of democracy, we must have erred in the course of implementation or otherwise. But nobody can come out to say that we have done nothing in the last 13 years. So, we are bound to err and it is in the course of doing what we are doing that, we erred and corrected the mistakes. The accusation is coming from the opposition and they are entitled to their opinion.
Talking about parties, the presidency has just stated that the president is eligible to contest in 2015 again. What is the impact of this on the north?
The issue is in court so, I will have to exercise restraint on discussing. Let’s allow the courts to decide whether the president is eligible to contest or north.
Coming back to the House, were you surprised with some of the revelations that came out from the subsidy probes?
I am not. I have been part of this system since 1990 and I know that a lot of things has been going on that is not right. Some people felt that it should continue that way, but it is wrong. These probes have opened up the eyes of Nigerians, and this is just the downstream sector, what will happen when we start with the upstream sector? We have done what we are expected to do, we have forwarded our reports to the executive for implementation and if they have any reservations, it is left for them to tell Nigerians.
Should Nigerians expect a law that will force the executive to implement laws and resolutions?
We are discussing on that. A motion was moved by our member for us to use the force of law to compel the executive to implement the decision of the national assembly. We leave them with Nigerians; they will tell Nigerians why they will not implement the reports. We may have no option than to compel them to implement the reports.