How do you react to the narrative surrounding the payment to foreigners who are allegedly responsi-ble for the killings in Southern Kaduna on the one hand, and the claims that Southern Kaduna elites are responsible for the tension in their areas because they want to be appeased with brown enve-lopes?
It is good to pay every price for peace. If you feel peace is expensive, then try crisis. But my problem is that most times when you start engaging these criminals with financial benefits, they don’t stop, even when they stop, other criminals will be encouraged to start their own operations so that they will be compensated. Let’s be human. When you say don’t pay kidnappers, wait until it happens to you or your loved one and you will do everything possible to save yourself or your loved one. I don’t know how somebody from Southern Kaduna will now mastermind the killing of his own people. I am not saying people don’t do that but then the same way people who killed were identified and paid in the past, I think people who are alleged to be killing their brothers should be identified and prosecute them if the assertions are right.
A Former military administrator of Rivers State, Gen Zamani Lekwot, a Southern Kaduna elite said the military can do more in bringing lasting peace in the region. Do you think the military has done enough?
Doing enough is relative. I can’t say if they have done enough or not, because I don’t know the infor-mation they have before the crisis. I don’t know the number of personnel they have deployed to our place, but I have heard a report where people say that these attacks happen near military formations. Let’s be realistic, men on the ground were not enough. Recently more soldiers were deployed but un-fortunately, just afterward my constituents were attacked; Gora Gan was again attacked were two people were killed and several injured. All these things are caused by politics, our utterances, and marginalisation. My cardinal goal is peace, I will love a Nigeria where you don’t even see a policeman. I will love a Nigeria where a military man is like fire service. The cost of their job is more than the cost of paying them. Once there is peace we don’t need the military. For instance, we have security problems in Jos, Kaduna, Benue, Niger, Zamfara etc, and we keep deploying and deploying we still can’t finish solving the problem. But a lasting solution is the best thing do to. So, I can’t hold brief for the military and I can’t say they have not done well.
How can Southern Kaduna elders close their ranks in terms of religious and political differences?
You see even in families where you have different people, their opinions will never be the same talk less of when you gather people of different ethnicity. We should be sincere in all our dealings because whether you like it or not if I pick you now against your people’s wish and make you a commissioner, your family members who are benefiting from you will not criticize the government. One of the ways of dividing people is to pick a few and favour them. We have to be sincere and look at these problems from the roots.
Former governor of Kaduna State, Ahmed Makarfi was able to tame hostilities in Kaduna State to a barest minimum what did he do differently?
The truth is that Makarfi was very sensitive to the needs of the people and he was not arrogant in his dealing with people. He listened to people very well. While he was governor, Makarfi discovered that
there were some communities without chiefdoms and one of the things he did was the creation of new chiefdoms. The people were very happy.
Many of the roads in Southern Kaduna today that peo-ple are still plying were done by Makarfi; so there was inclusion. Southern Kaduna people never felt left out whether they were right or wrong, whether they criticised him or not, Makarfi saw himself as the governor of the entire state. So I don’t think they needed to go and lobby before they got anything. I can’t tell you that there is a road to my local government that has been done in the past years. The only road currently being done in Zangon Kataf was initiated by the past administration. Recently I saw work done in Kachia and I think it is just within Kachia town. To be sincere, I have not seen much de-velopment in Southern Kaduna.
Your party, Peoples Democracy Party (PDP) lost to the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC); do you see the PDP bouncing back?
Yes, we will. I see the PDP bouncing back because even the people in the APC are even tired of their party, they didn’t see what they expect. I expected much from this administration because I saw the governor as somebody very intelligent, he has great ideas. I won’t say he has not done much, but if there are inclusions and everybody is carried along with his government would have been the best government.
What has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your work as a legislator so far?
The last one year has been challenging; in the sense that we started not long ago and coming into a new place where we need to study and adjust to the system. We have to take some time to learn the processes and in the middle of it, we started having some problems. Whether you like it or not, com-ing to a new place requires adjustments, to learn the processes of how things are done. However, be-fore we could settle down to work COVID-19 struck. I think it actually affected so much in the legisla-tive process, economically and in other aspects.
Even in the execution of projects, we got to a point that by the time we resumed, we were sitting once in a week, also there was a time we could not sit longer than that, so that also reduced and affected the passage of bills, the number of motions taken per week, so up till now, we have not really worked to our full capacity. So whether you like it or not, the number of bills you would expect each member to present has reduced. We have to struggle to get our motions presented. Sometimes we have mo-tions and bills listed and we can’t even take them because of the limited time of sitting due to COVID-19. So these are the challenges we faced within this period.
It’s been a year since you assumed office as a federal lawmaker. How have you impacted your constit-uents so far?
I came into office during a precarious moment and one of the things I organised was a peace symposi-um. But it is painful that despite this we still having issues of insecurity, it is very painful. On how I have impacted on my people, there are a lot of misconceptions, what is supposed to be the responsi-bility of an executive, the community demands a legislator to do and this is caused by poverty and lack of proper education. I go to the villages and the people expect that my duty as a legislator is to con-struct roads, some of them even believe I should support them in building their house. On a particular week, I received more than 10 requests from people that are in one stage or the other of building their houses. I also receive many requests for payment of school fees and medical bills. If I have N350,000 in my pocket, it won’t be enough daily. So multiply it by 30 days.
That means I will be looking at spending nine million naira every month and it will still not go round. Some people believe that when their children are sick, I should be called. That is why I don’t blame rep members that don’t pick calls. It is not their fault. If the educational system is free such that students are given loans and stipends, they won’t beg; if the economy is good and medical bills are affordable people will not beg. I can’t satisfy all of them, how much is my salary, how much do these people think I earn. With the request I get every day, I think I am poorer now than I was before becoming a legisla-tor because with the request I get today. If I bring out up to ten million now it will finish. So you see in our communities right now, your performance is being rated outside your primary responsibility.
The rate you on what is not your duty. But I am not saying they are wrong. Some of these things are caused by the economic situation of the country. They don’t understand our roles as legislators. When the civil defense was recruiting, I received more than 200 CVs. Even if I am a soldier or even the presi-dent, I don’t think I can recruit up to 200 people.