House of Representative member representing Chanchaga Federal Constituency in Niger State, Hon Mohammed Umaru Bago has debunked insinuations that President Muhammadu Buhari will endorse somebody for the position of Speaker of the 9th Assembly.
Bago who said he is a Buharist, stressed that those name-droppings for the president would continue as it is part of gimmicks of politics.
In this interview with Sundiata Post Assistant News Editor, Chibuike Nwabuko, the Next Level Speaker reveals why he is contesting for the position of the speaker; Buahri’s believe in equity and the plans he has for Nigeria and Nigerians if he emerges the speaker.
Question. At the cocktail, there is something you mentioned- that you wouldn’t have contested if they had zones the speakership to the south east. Please sir can you expatiate on that?
Thank you very much. My story is still the same. For unity we introduced federal character into the constitution of the country and the constitution is very clear that all offices and all other national issues must be shared across the six geo-political zones that we have right now. And even without federal character, I think is just make sense for people to understand that integral parts of this union are responsible for this country called Nigeria. Therefore every other zone must have a sense of belonging.
I have said clearly and I will say again that in the six geo-political zones, if other people did not participate at all, you now can now say you don’t participate, but as long as you have participated little, it means you have contributed your quota to the struggle. We have a president that is our own president that is coming from the North West, so looking at the six elected national political offices we have in Nigeria, this North West has been settled, invariably and you are having a vice president from the south West of this country, that means they are also settled. And you have the “party” zoning senate presidency to the north East and deputy senate presidency to the South South that means they have been settled. We only have two zones left.
If the party has come out to say that we are zoning the speakership to the South East, honestly, I would have just gone to contest for may be Deputy speaker if I want to. But as a zone, the north central is saying, in whatever ramification it is to be considered because we (north central) gave APC the third largest vote to bring the party into government. We even gave more than the zone that produced Vice President. And see the logic, if you have taken Senate Presidency to the north central and speakership to the house representative who had the speakership in the 8th Assembly giving them senate presidency, under normal circumstance you should be considering north central.
So we have put so much on the table so we cannot be over-ran because people just think we are not important and that is why we are lending our voices to say Nigerians come out and talk for fairness and justice. And we are saying, if the leadership of the party in their conscience are ready to brace up to the reality and wants to zone it to the South East, Honestly, we will support them, but anything less than South East and North central, that is if south east does not take Deputy Senate President, then it should be considered to the house of representatives.
Question: Your national chairman has said that they would come hard on members who kick against the zoning formula. Two days ago Tinubu said any member who is not ready to abide by the rules of the party should leave the party. You are now vying for speakership from north central and while the party zoned the position to the south west. Don’t you think you are going against the party’s agreement?
You see, let me use your words to answer your question. Who zoned what to what? That is number one. Secondly, the party is not guided by the individual’s talk but by the constitution. And the constitution of the party and that of the nation is clear on the issue of equity. So you don’t call people who are clamoring for equity what is their own.
Let me remind you, I have been a TBO (The Buhari Organisation) from inception. I came to the parliament under the platform of the CPC, so I am a core Buharist. Anything that will protect Buhari and Nigeria, I am in there irrespective of party decision because I don’t even see why the desperation. Let me tell you one thing, in leadership, there are two things you need to understand even if you have preference.
You can tactically zone to a zone and lobby, you cannot force on people. So we are saying, all these stories you are talking about at the end of the day it will end in the an open secret ballot in the chamber – 360 members of us will elect our leadership so we are not afraid to talk and we cannot be tormented or cowed by any person. Our position is very clear, we stand for equity and north central deserves more than any other zone, to be recognized in the sharing formula of this country.
The deputy governor of your state was here yesterday and he represented your governor, and a host of other. Sir does that go to suggest that the north central has endorsed you as the speaker?
Not an endorsement. Yesterday’s get together was not for an endorsement gathering but a cocktail gathering- for friends to familiarize and for colleagues to know each other and that was the purpose. And because the course we are pushing for is genuine and for any rational being to understand that what we are pushing is genuine, we want to have stability in the country, we want to have stability in the government and we want President Muhammadu Buhari to succeed. We want the dividend of democracy to get to the grassroots, we want to repeal laws that are archaic and new laws enacted, formulated and passed.
So because we want stability and we believe in the principle of democracy, we want to first and foremost entrench issues of the independence of the legislature, we need to tell each other the truth and all these people that have come to recognize themselves to our course are people who believe in equity and everybody in north central is crying out for equity to the world to say that injustice is about to happen, don’t let it happen. My governor is behind me, my people are behind me and every other governor in north central is behind me in this course. So it is not about endorsement but it is about the course.
If they bring it to north central then whoever is coming out we can then iron it out, we can go to the polls but we are saying zone it properly. I don’t want to be anointed, I would not want to be anointed, if you anoint me I will resign so don’t anoint me. Let the people who are my colleagues on equal ground vote me in or out.
Question: How Are lawmakers in the north central taking your candidature and how is the lobbying so far?
You see, when you talk about emancipation before you talk about candidature. We are trying to work on their consciousness so that they understand that history will not forgive us if we let injustice happen to our people. We must be seen to represent the wishes of our people and what are the wishes of our people to get federal presence.
So first and foremost we are calling them to wake up to the reality of the renaissance of the north central, it is very important. After which candidature will play.
But for your second question, you were probably there at the cocktail and you saw the number of people that came in and a lot of you took names of new members that came in. It was unprecedented, is unprecedented in the history of this assembly members elected coming to a function and people got angry because the text message did not even get to them. A lot of people came this morning and said Honorable why did you do this and I said we are going to have a repeat. So for your information, next week we will have a repeat for the batch B people and you will see more.
Question: Your brand is very is very attractive- Mr Electable, can you throw more light on how come about in terms of that brand.
You see, I didn’t just coin that name, I didn’t just call myself Mr Electable, but when we came into the assembly, only from my background, I went to federal government school-a military school and I worked in the bank for over 13 years, I worked across the country and am good with language and I speak different languages and I have related with people from other side of Nigeria more and people say this guy relates and people begin to say Mr Relatable and now it is becoming like a nickname. So when this project came up my colleagues in the 7th Assembly now 8th assembly said that is the name and that is really who you are.
Question: You said two things – that you don’t want to be anointed and that you are a core Buharist right from the CPC. One would wonder what kind of Independent the legislature is going to enjoy when you become a speaker from the presidency.
First and foremost, we all are from APC as a party. We have the manifesto and the presidential program lined up and we all believe in it before it was even sanctioned at the party level. So if we have keyed in to the formulation of those policies and agendas of the president, we should be able to make sure that we make laws that will make it very easy for the executive to execute those projects and plans drawn on the table.
The president for instance wants to connect every state by rail, he needs funding. We need to expedite appropriation. We need to find other sources of generating revenue, we need to even solve issues of insecurity and we need to employ more people. We cannot be on that chair and make it happen without a legislature that will make it in tandem with the ideals.
So precisely we understand his programs, they are laudable and even you the press have alluded to the fact that those projects are beautiful but how do you get it done? The only way to get them done is to have cohesive laws to support them.
Question: There is a story making rounds that the president will at the last minute call all contestants and tell others to back down for a particular candidate,
Cuts In… Did you hear me very well from the beginning when I said I am a Buharist? He is somebody I know, believe me he will not do that. Name dropping for the president would continue, it is gimmicks of politics. President will not, that thing he said and people took it for joke – “I am for everybody and for nobody” is still the same way. He believes in equity. What has taken the president to where he is today is because he is an honest person. You can say anything about Buhari but you cannot talk about his integrity, he wouldn’t do that. But there are “people” who feel they are close to Mr. President and now name-drop.