Senator Abdulmumuni M. Hassan represents Jigawa South-west zone in the senate. In this interview with pressmen, including RUTH CHOJI, this Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on National Identity Card says that Governor Sule Lamido is North’s best bet for the presidency in 2015. He also spoke on what the National Assembly intends to do to instil global best practices in the country and the need to maintain the tradition of early passage of appropriation bill every year.
Nigerians were surprised when the senate passed the 2013 budget knowing fully well that the 2012 budget was not fully implemented. What happened?
The issue is that we needed a framework and a system in which our budget will start to be implemented by January to December of each year. This is because the current system of passing the budget in the middle of the year is never done in other countries and we have to conform to international best practices for us to be global citizens; more so, the issue of timing the passage of the budget at the middle of the year makes implementation very difficult.
What should Nigerians expect from the 2013 budget?
Well, if you look at the speeches delivered by the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives at the 2013 budget presentation, it shows to all Nigerians that we are dedicated to 100% implementation of the budget and therefore, Nigerians should expect the best from the National Assembly.
As the vice chairman, Senate Committee on National Identity Card and NPC, what has the committee done to ensure that those not properly captured in the census were considered?
If you go back to history, you will realize that the National Population Census was never completely accepted by all. However, we will do our best to ensure an acceptable census in which everyone will be captured.
What is going to happen to the Bakkassi figures captured now that it has been conceded to Cameroun?
The issue of Bakkasi as far as I know is over. This is because the International Court of Justice had since during Obasanjo’s administration delivered its decisions and a window of appeal was given to us and it was used by the federal government. So I think this issue should be a thing of the past.
Nigerian population is not commensurate with the level of our development, what is the way out?
The way forward is for us as people to change. The leadership should be committed to implementing policies and programs that will endanger development, create jobs, reduce poverty, improve health care delivery and ensure the welfare of all and sundry. The citizenry on the other hand should be good followers and ensure they do their best in contributing in every capacity and situation they found themselves to the development of this country.
The issue of the pension fund scam drew the ire of the senate recently, what is the next line of action?
What led to the issuance of the warrant of the arrest on the Chairman of the Pension Task Force was because of his failure to honor our invitation and that was totally unacceptable by the Senate. We wanted to ensure that we give him the right to fair hearing and also to render account of his steward ship to Nigerians. After this, we will allow the law to take its course.
Going to the constitutional review, would you support the calls for the scrapping of the joint state and local government account?
I do not completely support the scrapping of the state/local government joint account. This is because in most cases, you will realize that some of the local government chairmen we have are not competent and so giving them the grant directly will only further deepen corruption and embezzlement of public funds. But where state government ensures free, fair and credible elections, competent chairman of local government will emerge and they can be given their grants.
But will you support the complete autonomy of local government
I will completely support the autonomy of local governments.
Will you also support the review of the on shore/of shore dichotomy law that is gradually building up in the north?
Of course; the on-shore, off-shore law or dichotomy should be reviewed because those states that benefit from the law do not do anything to stand to benefit from that and as such, they should be treated equally with all the states in the federation.
Nigerians are groaning under fuel scarcity again, what has the committee on the downstream sector done to end these
It is indeed very sad and unfortunate because we are suffering and lacking from what we have; what we produce and what we export. Even countries that do not have oil are not suffering as much as we are suffering in Nigeria. So, on our part, we have been doing our best by calling on the stakeholders in the petroleum industry to resolve this issue so that Nigerians will stop suffering from this intended artificial scarcity.
The north has been divided because of sectarian crises and insurgency, do you see the north coming together to agree on a consensus candidate before 2015
(Laughs) Well, I believe God is the one that gives leadership to whomever he likes and at the time he likes and whether people like it or not. Of course the north will be and is even indeed united. We are only facing some challenges like other parts of the country and the world in general. We also not unmindful of the challenges facing other parts of the country such as armed robbery and kidnapping.
If we go back a little into history, you will recall that, there was a time when you cannot go to Lagos or Port Hacourt. But the story is different now and so it will be for the north also. I also strongly believe that Dr. Sule Lamido will be a blessing to Nigerians just like he is to Jigawa State. The laudable efforts and achievements of his excellency in Jigawa State cannot be over-emphasised.
This is because, there is no road, school or hospital that is not rehabilitated, jobs are created and youths empowered. So were Nigerians to grant him an opportunity, I bet you, we are not going to regret it and we will indeed reap the dividend of democracy