Hon AMinu Suleiman is representing Fegge federal constituency of Kano state. In this interview with RUTH CHOJI, the chairman, house committee on tertiary and TETFUND stated that reports of crisis in the ruling APC is being overblown. He also spoke on some other issues.
Some are advocating that TETFUND be extended to private institution as well. Do you support this call?
That bill came and we stuck it out. It is nonsensical for TETFUND to sponsor private universities. How do you expect public funds to be used to develop a private commercial initiative? When I saw the bill, I said to myself, it is a waste of legislative time to discuss but because of our mandate, we still discussed it and even held a public hearing on it.
As a matter of fact, even some proponent of the bill were ashamed to come out and defend the bill. If you do that, everybody will go and borrow money from market women to build one classroom and then will be using TETFUND money to develop it the way they want and be making their money. I like the idea of private universities because they are complimenting the efforts of the public universities, but it is unthinkable that anybody will propose that we use public funds to develop private initiatives.
Should the FG continue to fund tertiary institutions in Nigeria?
That is where our professor and the universities themselves should focus their attention. I see a sort of contradiction because our institutions are advocating for autonomy, yet they are putting more pressure on the Federal Government (FG) to fund them 100 percent. Now you are saying that FG should give you money to run your business and they shouldn’t ask you how you manage the fund, it doesn’t make sense. I think to further depend and strengthen the universities and the autonomy the universities hold dearly, I will recommend that our tertiary institutions should begin to think of ways of funding outside government. As desirable as government funding is, we must also realized that, there are other sectors of our society that requires serious funding too by government. So if every sectors will hold government by the jugular, then we will be strangling the economy.
Both APC and PDP have started campaigning, some are afraid that the APC primaries unresolved crises might hamper the chances of the party in the general elections, what do you think?
It will be an unfair complement for anybody to say that because what happened during APC primaries was not strange to other parties, probably the crises was overblown because we are the ruling party, therefore any issue which is overblown is splashed in the pages of papers. I concur that, there were issues in some parts of the country and it won’t be fair if these issues are not revisited. I believe with the capacity of the National chairman, and of course the dexterity of the president must be brought to bear to ensure that those who feel greatly aggrieved have to be accommodated in one way or the other. Not necessarily by way of creating a window for elective purposes but it can be by appointments.
All over the world where primaries are held, grouses usually arise from the process of electioneering, but the capacity and dexterity of the leaders to assuage those aggrieved and ensure that they are accommodated is what keeps the party strong. I believe the party has resolved some of these problems by making the aggrieved people understand that, the party comes first, and it requires a Buhari as a president to sustain the foundation he has laid for the recovery of Nigeria and the future of our children yet unborn. For us to return to 16years for the same party and character that has plunged Nigeria into this anomaly, we will be doing an injustice to ourselves and political life. I must advice that we should not dismiss anybody.
Adams Oshiomole is being blamed for some of these crises. Don’t you think this allegation has dented the image of the APC which came on the mantra of change?
Accusing the national chairman of the APC for whatever happens is normal, because he is the head of the party, therefore rightly or wrongly every action stops at his table. Those who are happy applauded the chairman and the aggrieved blamed the chairman whether rightly or wrongly. But on the allegation of receiving money, I think those who allege these are grossly unfair to Adams. You can accuse him of high handedness with due respect to him, as one person that seeks to dominate his environment.
That you cannot exonerate him from it, but the Adams that I have known who I have worked with for 25years before coming here, it will be strange and unbelievable that he is involved in this kind of racketing. If you allow me the opportunity, I will say that, he cannot be involved in such graft as far as I am concerned. It is the right for whoever feels bad to ask for Adams resignation. I cannot deny them that right but I will not support anybody or even Adams himself to say, he will resign simply because others have called on him to do that otherwise, we will be a country of resignations. If that is the case, I am sure he who made this call wouldn’t have resigned before now.
The only two thing is one, you prove your misdemeanor against the chairman and then proceed to follow due process of the APC to challenge the chairman or you accommodate the circumstance you find yourself having lost out. It’s just a matter of 4years, you can still try again. Others were removed through elections and voted in after some time. The beauty in elections is not in wining but in taking part. The leadership of the APC and the government would have learned from the last primaries. Adams became chairman amidst crises in the party created by other people. In the process of reconciling those initially aggrieved, it is not impossible that he will step on toes. So, in trying to solve the problem, he might be creating another one without knowing it.
Atiku is seen as a major force that will likely win the elections against APC. What do you think?
Yes it is a concern because PDP as far as I am concerned have proven to the world that, they have not learned any lesson. They came out to say they are sorry, they have wronged Nigeria and who were the drivers that wronged Nigeria? It is Atiku and Obasanjo. They directly and indirectly brought about the hardship we are currently going through. You don’t go to a doctor with a cancer that he couldn’t treat for 16years and still want to go there again after another one has saved. So the architect of Nigeria’s suffering is Obasanjo and Atiku Abubakar. So much that Obasanjo said if he ever supports Atiku ,his God will never forgive him. But because of political interests and enmity ,Obasanjo chose for God not to forgive him, and went back to support Atiku. therefore our concern for Atiku is not borne out of fear but out of concern that any sane Nigerian with the capacity to reason and reflect will contemplate an Atiku as president.
Coming back to Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) they have demanded for N30,000 as basic salary for civil servants, do you think this is feasible?
As a comrade, I do not see this as a challenge because all my life I have been negotiating for the Nigerian worker. There is a difference between tenable and direable, as a matter of fact, more than that, it is desirable for the Nigerian worker. I am concerned that, the FG might be able to pay and some selected states, but two third of the states cannot pay N30,000 and still embark on other infrastructures.
What is the way out?
The way out might not be palatable for some workers if I advocate it, but let me use Dino Melaye’s words even though I am not his admirer, but ‘if you lie, you will die, if you say the truth, you will still die’, so I will say it the way I see it. I will suggest a sort of deregulated arrangement, the FDG agree with the workers on what they pay their workers and the states should negotiate what they can pay their workers. For instance, you cannot say that what Kano can pay, Jigawa can also pay. You don’t expect Lagos and Osun to pay the same thing to their workers. So let’s have a benchmark which we cannot go below and then, the states can negotiate with their workers.