HON. TIMOTHY GOLU, Represents Pankshin/Kankel/Kankel Federal Constituency of Plateau State in the House of Representatives. As chairman of the House Committee on Legislative Budget and Research, he is also the spokesperson of the Parliamentary Democratic Group, (PDG) a Pressure group in the House. In this interview with select journalists, he speaks on some national issues ahead of the 2019 general election. CHIBUZO UKAIBE, was there for LEADERSHIP Sunday.
As the spokesperson of the Parliamentary Democratic Group, (PDG) in the House, what is your group doing about the rumour that a group is plotting to impeach the Speaker, Hon Yakubu Dogara?
We have been hearing about it, even after the speakership election, some of them that lost the election, still believe that anything is possible. These are people that don’t believe in God. They don’t believe that it is God that gives power and when God gives power, there is nothing anybody can do about it.
So, at every interval, at every given opportunity, they are always waiting in the wings to capitalise. But they don’t know that all the people who voted for Hon Yakubu Dogara, and some of those who did not vote for him, have come to terms with the reality that it is God that gives power.
The performance of Hon Dogara has neutralised most of that opposition on the one hand and on the other, helped him to establish a very good relationship with majority of those who did not vote for him to become speaker because many House of Representatives members didn’t know him much as at when we voted for him to emerge speaker.
Some Rep members voted on the basis of ethnicity because he is from the South-west, so majority of the people from the geo-political region felt they could not afford not to vote for their brother. But some thought that they needed to go beyond that kind of consideration. But God decided and Hon Dogara won with eight votes. Whether he won with one or eight votes, victory was established.
Unfortunately, in spite of the fact that we have few months to go in the 8th National Assembly, some people still want to be Speaker. Dogara has not failed us, he has demonstrated capability, legislative experience, knowledge, courage, boldness and what it takes to hold the position. I don’t think his opponents would have done better than him.
So to see that he has more legislators on his side now especially, those who didn’t vote for him to become speaker, should have been a source of discouragement to somebody somewhere. But I think what is encouraging somebody to think otherwise is what he or she is seeing happening in the Senate, where some people feel that illegality can happen and so they want to extend it to the House of Representatives.
Such people have not been loyal to the leadership some people have not giving their best to the stability of the House. Some people are just waiting in the wings as I said to capitalise on any crisis or any eventuality. But the population that we have in the House of Representatives is not like in a State House of Assembly. We have 360 people in the House and 109 senators.
We are elected, we have people that are supporting us, the same people that are supporting us will always give a critical position any time we go wrong, they criticise us and we accept it. People supported and voted for us to be in that place, we didn’t fall from heaven and so if anybody thinks he or she can remove the leadership of both chamber illegally, then they are day dreaming. Even if security agents impose a senate president or a speaker, he would not last for one week, because he would be resisted.
Those who are contemplating such a thing should not even think of it in a Senate where they have 109 members or in the House of Representatives with 360 vibrant young men. The very day they want to come with the motion of the impeachment of the Speaker, we are going to resist it legally.
Does this suggest a crisis in the House of Representatives?
Absolutely not. There is no crisis, like I told you there are people who understand the legislative workings in that place. But one or two persons are hoping they can create crisis with support from outside, which is what they normally depend on, that’s their source of strength, they cannot do anything within the House. The House is a place where decisions are taken by every person, the Speaker does not take decisions alone he takes decisions together with the Senate President and then they extend to the members for approval. He always tables issues for discussion and debate. So for a member of the House leadership who is not satisfied with things and cannot come out to voice it, but rather go about instigating few members of the House to cause chaos then, such a person cannot lead the House.
Why are the two chambers of the National Assembly finding it hard to reconvene? Is there a fear of possible impeachment?
It is a blackmail by the Presidency and the APC that we are finding it hard to reconvene. Has the National Assembly ever asked the Federal Executive Council to reconvene? Even when we passed the budget in the National Assembly, have we ever ask them or directed them on the date to go and sign the budget? We are the number one arm of government in a democracy. The fact that they have more money in the Executive and control the security apparatus should not make them think they are above the law. We are the number one arm of the government and the only symbol of democracy so as we respect the principles of checks and balances, separation of powers, they should also respect our own, they can’t tell us what to do. We declared recess on our own, we didn’t seek permission from them and so we can reconvene any time. Is the election taking place today? Is the election taking place this month? Is the 2019 election taking place in December?
But the Executive is expressing concern on the financing of the 2019 budget of the INEC?
Are they just waking up? So they knew that there is need for preparations for the 2019 general elections yet they couldn’t bring the budget of INEC together with the main budget of the 2018. Do you think they don’t know what they are doing? It was a deliberate attempt to blackmail the National Assembly to add up to the image of the crises that they have already created deliberately. I am the chairman of the House Committee on Legislative Budget and Research. I have been raising the issue over why can’t they bring the budget on time.
It is not that we are doing election this year, well maybe they want to spend it through the service wide vote, which will also be illegal because everything that will be spent must be legal. What will be spent from the service wide vote is supposed to be purely security matters that should not concern any specific line item that is known. The election is a line item that everybody knows will take place so, we don’t need a secret budget for it. We need an open budget but they did not bring it until we were about to go for our recess. We have our own calendar, nobody can just come and then begin to decide what we should do.
Since they say they are bringing a supplementary budget, fine, we can sit down and discuss it even during public holidays. Just like they called us, members of the electoral committee of the two chambers, we came, we interfaced with INEC and we are working on it now. So why the haste? The purpose for the haste, I will tell you, is not for us to come and do this budget thing because if it is that much of an emergency to them, they would have rushed it. They want us to come so that they can remove the leadership of the National Assembly that is their plan. They want to come and achieve something else using the holiday period.
But they were surprised that most of us in the House of Representatives were on ground. We were everywhere monitoring what was going on so that we would see what will happen. Because if democracy cannot be protected by the law then it should be protected by physical vigilance. We were there to protect it. Since they don’t want to use the law to achieve what they want to do they want to come physically, they would meet us physically in that place.
With all these happenings, do you believe there will be general elections come 2019?
I believe very strongly that there will be elections. Nobody can stop the election. It will take place except those who are afraid that they don’t want this election to take place, if they are afraid they can quietly stay back. This country belongs to God, the whole world is in the hands of God. So, if anybody is beginning to look at it from his own calculation, God will disgrace the person.