The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, yesterday, took a look at the ongoing controversy between the Senate and the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Colonel Hameed Ali (retd.), describing the development as mere distractions.
Dogara, who fielded questions from senior journalists in Abuja, said the most important thing that should have been considered was whether the man had delivered on his mandate.
Although he did not mention the upper legislative chamber in his briefing, Dogara said that it was also necessary to look at what the Nigerian laws say about wearing of uniforms by public officers and see whether any of the laws had been adhere to or breached by Ali.
“So you have to look at all these issues before you come to a conclusion. As far as I am concerned these are mere distractions. They are not supposed to be; the main issue is delivery. What is it that we are delivering? That is it,” Dogara said.
The Speaker said that although he could not say whether the House of Representatives would support the resolution passed by the Senate against Ali, he would only wait to see what happens when the discussion gets to the floor of the House for debate.
He said, “But for a decision to be made in line with what the Senate proposed to the House, you can only wait till the matter comes before the House and that decision will be taken and Nigerians will know”.
The Speaker, who also took at look at the performance of the federal government since coming to power in 2015, claimed that the administration could not be accused of disappointing Nigerians given where it was coming from and what it inherited from the previous administration.
He said, “We have gone very far in trying to tackle this issue of insurgency and as a matter of fact all hostile spots have been liberated. This Government through various interventions has been able to ensure that the terrorists are not holding unto any swatch of land.
“I believe this is one major thing that has given some hope to Nigerians, for the very first time that we are in a position to overcome this problem, and it is critical, even if it’s for nothing else that our citizens in the Northeast zone down to Abuja can move around more freely than before, that is something.
“For me, I can say that a lot has been achieved even though unsung in most cases. In the context of our society, people want to see first-class roads, hospitals, they want to see the tangibles, but nobody places value on the intangibles.
“For us who come from the Northeast, even some of us who live and work in Abuja, remember how dire this issue of terrorism was. We were all living on the throes of violence.
The Police Headquarters here was bombed, U.N Mission here in Abuja was bombed, bombs exploded in Kaduna, Kano, Jos, in Nyanya as well and there was even threat of this mayhem being exported to the Southwest and other regions of this country.
“If you look at it today, we have exited from that. The biggest problem of democracy is that with violence you cannot take the benefits of democracy.
Democracy as we practice: Presidential democracy has three promises: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. The number one responsibility of Government is the security and welfare of the citizens.
But the Speaker expressed disappointment with the treatment meted out to the Peace Corps of Nigeria even with the passage of the bill to make it a national security outfit in Nigeria by the National Assembly.
Dogara made it clear that the National Assembly would muster the required majority in both chambers to veto the President on the matter if he withholds his assent to the National Peace Corps Bill already passed and transmitted to the Presidency.
He maintained that there could be no limit to spend in securing the lives and property of Nigerians since the government exists to protect lives and property.
He warmed, “So the Bill is still there before the President for his assent. If he doesn’t assent to it for whatever reason, we are at liberty to recall it back to parliament and muster the 2/3 in the House and Senate and pass in spite of Mr. President’s veto. But right now that is not the discussion.
The Speaker also express dissatisfaction with the way the executive has been treating resolutions from the NASS with levity and hinted that a committee had been raised to compile resolutions passed but not complied with by the executive for necessary actions.
Mr. Dogara promised to take steps to ensure the amendment of the Local Government Law in Nigeria to give autonomy to the 774 councils in the country and return the conduct of local elections to INEC to ensure credibility, fairness and competitiveness as opposed to the current hijack of the process by the respective states.
He said the removal of autonomy from LGAs had created middlemen who deny the councils of the needed development.
“The current system is not working, and it has become a system whereby some have constituted themselves into middle men along the lines; they grab the resources meant for the development at the grass root and appropriate it the way they deem fit.
“And, there is a twin evil which is that of state independent electoral commissions that gives birth to a total mockery of democracy in the way the State Independent Electoral Commissions conduct elections that are usually won by just one party in power in the respective states.
“I have never seen where democracy is mocked like in Nigerian local government elections. I don’t know how we can continue to mock ourselves that we are practising democracy at the third tier of government.