Nigeria: 'Ninth Assembly Won't Be a Rubber Stamp'

11 July 2019
interview

Shola Oyeyipo dialogues with the immediate past Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and the chairman, House of Representatives' Ad-hoc Committee on Media, Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim representing Damatura/Gujba/Gulani/Tarmuwa, Yobe State on the activities of the 9th assembly

What is the state of affairs in the 9th assembly?

Since our inauguration on June 11 and since the committee was inaugurated on June 13 we have not interacted with you (media). Our task is to ensure that Nigerians know what is happening. There was a press conference in which we brought to the fore, most of the things in the speech of Mr. Speaker when he was sworn-in.

He mentioned that this would be a reformist House; that unlike the 8th assembly where there was lack of rapport between the executive and the legislature, this time around we are going to work together to achieve a common goal.

We are going to work together because nobody can deny the fact that Nigeria is our country and we need to protect the interest of the country. Just that we practice separation of powers; we have the legislature, judiciary and we have the executive - those three arms of government are separate entities. They are separate in their ideals, but that doesn't mean they should be at loggerhead. They should work together to move the country move ahead.

In the second press conference, we mentioned that Mr. Speaker was invited to Lagos State by Lagos State Government and he was hosted to a dinner and there he emphasised a lot of things. It was more like a thank you event. He thanked various people and he showed a lot of concern that he is going to work as a reformist in a reformed parliament.

He spoke about going to the Internally Displaced Peoples'(IDP) camps in Zamfara and Borno but unfortunately on the date that he wanted to go, the governors were not available. So, it has been postponed and we will communicate the mew date to you.

He re-emphasised that Nigeria is great - that waste of time during budget and all that are things of the past. As soon as the budget comes we will be able to pass it since our role is appropriation, oversight and legislation. So, we will do all those as and when required; on time.

It is not as if we are going to be a rubber stamp parliament, no. We are doing to work as partners in progress with the executive. Where there is going to be any kind of objection, we will do it in a matured manner. We will not bring our dirty linen in public, we will do it in a matured and concise manner because we are partners in progress, we are not enemies, we are not competing with one another.

Nigerians want to know if the House will truly be independent and be able to stand up to the executive in matters concern the common?

It is all about diplomacy between the executive and the legislature. If there is anything that needs to be politely said, it will be done maturely. It wouldn't be jungle justice. It won't be a dictatorship kind of system. It is going to be a smooth running relationship whereby one complements the other and that is exactly what democracy is all about.

If there is anything, we will close our doors. Even if we are going to wrestle, within that room we will wrestle and we will come out smiling. That is the kind of parliament that the Speaker wants us to have. We will not wash our dirty linen outside. We will be there for one another, we will always reach a compromise on issues we don't agree on in a matured manner.

Maturity is the main word, because if we don't do this for our country, always objecting and heating up the polity is not the best. At the moment, we need to concentrate on the three mantra of this government, which are the economy, anti-corruption and security. We need to also put all hands on deck to ensure that these three principles laid out clearly by the executive are given full support and are delivered to the letter.

So, we don't need rancour. We need to sit down and reach a consensus. We need to be on the same platform with the executive at any given time and that doesn't mean rubber stamp. That is just reaching a consensus.

Can you to elaborate on the specific reforms Nigerians should expect. And why the legislative agenda has not been rolled out yet?

Anytime the legislative agenda of Mr. Speaker is to be unveiled, he will also come up with the details of those reforms. There is no point going into them at this stage.

You are asking why the legislative agenda has not been rolled out, I also want to say that for a man who wants to run an all-inclusive House, who doesn't just want to come with his own idea and push to the front burner, he needs to do a lot of consultation. He needs to take inputs from all the political parties represented in the House as indicated in that logo (behind the Speaker's seat in the House of Representatives gallery).

So, he is in the process of doing that. There is no point rushing to release a document and then midway you realise that it doesn't have the buy-in of everyone.

I want to assure you, very soon we are going to have the unveiling of that agenda and it will contain the details of the reforms that he would be bringing into the House but they are reforms that will be very good for the parliament and very good for Nigeria as a country.

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