Senate President, David Mark and Niger State governor, Mua’zu Babangida Aliyu, were, on Monday, involved in exchange of words over the need for President Goodluck Jonathan and his team to provide dividends of democracy and quit the stage in 2015.
The governor, who is thought to be eyeing the presidency in 2015, was speaking at the opening of the Presidential Summit on Water, at the Banquet Hall of Presidential Villa, where he also suggested that the people should have the right to sue governments if they fail to provide necessary amenities.
But the Senate president, in his own message on the occasion, reminded the governor that the responsibility for the provision of water belonged to state and local governments and, therefore, suggested that the people of Niger State should sue the governor if, by 2015, he was unable to provide potable water to every household in the state.
The governor had specifically mentioned the names of President Jonathan, the First Lady, Patience Jonathan, Vice-President Namadi Sambo and the Senate President and told them that their combination should be able to deliver dividends of democracy and walk away at the end of their tenure in 2015 as happy people.
“And I do know that with the combination of Patience, Goodluck, Namadina (Namadi) and Dauda (David), who is the Senate President, I believe we will be able to deliver, so that by 2015, when you combine these, we will be able by 2015 to walk away happy and people happy with us,” he said.
He wondered whether it was not possible “that in terms of water and agriculture, we should be able to institutionalise by law that people who do not get them can take government to court.”
According to him, “if we do that, then we will be able to emphasise what is needed. Many of us who have gone to say give education priority, give health priority, give agriculture priority, people will say that you are not performing because the result is not immediate.
“They prefer to see a building even if nobody enters, a sky scrapper; that is their concept of development. No. Development is about the people and we must all join hands to help the people.”
Before reading his goodwill message at the event, Senator Mark took time to respond to Aliyu’s suggestion, noting that while he agreed that people should be able to sue non-performing governments, the people of Niger State should exercise the right if their governor was unable to provide them water in 2015.
“I agree entirely with Governor Aliyu because I still represent Niger State in so many other areas, that if a state fails to provide water to its citizens, the citizens should have the right to sue the government. I agree entirely with you.
“But let me also emphasise here that it is my conviction and I have said this time without number that the provision of water to houses and to people is the responsibility of state government and local government.
“Therefore, if a man in Niger State doesn’t get water in his tap, I believe that he has every right to sue Governor Aliyu. And I hope that before the end of his tenure and, indeed, everybody in Niger State, it is my wish, will get pipe-borne water in homes,” he said.