Hon. Victor Afam Ogene, the spokesman of a frontline contender for the Speakership position, Hon. Mohammed Umaru Bago campaign organization, speaks with newsmen in Abuja that his principal was already coasting to victory amongst other issues. AHMED MUSA brings the excerpts:
Tuesday is the inauguration of the 9th Assembly, House of Representatives on which the elections for Speaker and Deputy Speaker would hold. With your principal in the race, how prepared is your camp for the elections?
It has been two months of intense engagement with members elect, the civil society, critical stakeholders, including present and former leaders of the country, and the mass of the Nigerian people. During this period of electioneering, we have endeavoured to stay on the issues, without recourse to personal abuse or mudslinging. And what are these issues that have dominated the campaigns? For us in the Hon. Mohammed Umaru Bago campaign organisation, what we have put out centred on the need for justice, equity and fairness in the leadership recruitment process of our dear nation. Quite unknown to many persons, or maybe they simply elect to gloss over it, is the constitutional requirement for equity in the choice of leaders so as to consciously reflect our geo political diversity as a nation. In fact, under the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, as captured in Chapter 2, section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended,” the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.” In fact, this provision of the constitution aptly sums up the entire disputation as far as the contest for leadership of the 9th National Assembly is concerned.
But in spite of this constitutional provision which you have cited, your party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) remains resolute on its choice of candidates as Presiding Officers. Are you worried about that?
You see, a lot of people do not quite understand what is meant by the phrase “spirit and letters of the constitution.” Which is why I think that going forward, chapter 2 of the Nigerian constitution ought to be made justiciable. When the constitution talks about commanding national loyalty, those two words are far deeper than many ascribe to it. Today in Nigeria, a lot of groups no longer show loyalty to the nation, be it Boko Haram, insurgents, ethnic militias, kidnappers and the likes. Now, while not excusing their recourse to self-help, our collective failings as a people in giving them a seeming sense of belonging could have unwittingly contributed to their disenchantment. Going forward, therefore, I would suggest that leaders across all strata would not only memorise the wordings of the section I just mentioned, but would also indeed commit to its faithful implementation. Can you therefore see why it has been such a herculean task getting the other side speak to the issues of equity, justice and fairness which we have deposited in the public domain. Besides the country’s constitution, the APC’s constitution promotes same ideals, which is why they don’t have any strong grounds to canvass their candidature. Now, we no longer hear the popular phrase ‘Baba so pe’, literally interpreted to mean, the leader has spoken, which has dominated Lagos politics, but the party has endorsed.
With this endorsement, where does that leave your candidate, Hon.Bago?
He’s doing very fine and by the grace of the Supreme Creator of the universe, we shall emerge victorious on Tuesday, June 11, 2019. The National Assembly is not the Lagos State House of Assembly, and so cannot be equated to it. While they play draft in Lagos, the name of the game in Abuja is cheese.
Even though you sound so confident, Hon. Abdulmumuni Jibrin, director general of the Femi Gbajabiamila campaign in a face- off with you on TV, Wednesday, dismissed you as a non voting member.
(Laughing), He did more than that. In fact, he contended that I am not widely traveled to understand the issues surrounding Gbajabiamila’s Supreme Court of Georgia conviction. That has been the nature of their campaign, riddled with personal abuse. With every sense of modesty, I am sure I saw the outside world before Abdulmumuni. In February, 1998, when I was chosen as the only Nigerian participant for that year’s prestigious International Visitors Program which took me to five American states, Abdulmumuni was probably still unsure if he would escape the almajiri scourge. You see, my friends, I do not want to waste valuable space on the fellow because Nigerians know him sufficiently. Here is somebody who was at the centre of the budget padding saga, got suspended from the House for over a year and has hopped in and out of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC offices for sundry allegations. My understanding of history teaches that felons cannot sit in judgment over just men. I do not have a file with the EFCC, so if he junkets around the world, you should understand why, and how. He’s indeed is a classic case of the blind leading the blind.
Here is someone who in 2015 taunted Gbajabiamila with the same conviction issue, nominated Speaker Dogara on inauguration against the same Gbajabiamila, and went on to name his new principal in the budget hoopla which he ignited in 2016. As a matter of fact, Abdulmumuni has never remained loyal to a cause. In 2011, he promoted a new members forum, pretending as if he was working for the Presidency only to switch to the camp of Aminu Waziri Tambuwal camp when he sensed his impending victory. Same scenario in 2015, when he crossed over to the Dogara camp only four days to election.
I will, therefore, not be surprised to see him seek to join us before voting commences. Yes, I may not be a voting member but I played same role for the Dogara’s campaign in 2015, and to the glory of God, we got victory. That should tell him something.