Why Gov Obaseki Deserves Renewal of His Mandate - Sen Urhoghide


* Urhoghide


* 8th Senate Vindicated For Not Confirming Magu

By Ebhalu Ikhili, Benin City

Mathew Urhoghide is  a two-term Senator representing Edo
South Senatorial District, and Chairman, Senate Public Accounts Committee. He is also Fellow, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, FPSN

The distinguished, accomplished politician to theledgerng.com on sundry issues. Excerps:

Q:
One school of thought contends that the two major candidates in the forthcoming governorship election are busy engaging each other in a campaign of calumny rather than addressing fundamental issues of economy and development. What is your take on this?

A:
Well, I do not know what exactly you mean by campaign of calumny, the way we have always based our politics here often times it is devoid of issues. I mean issues that can be considered as indices of good governance. Mind you, you know why there are opinions on  development each time anybody want to aspire and even in civilised democracies.

 If we check our constitution Chapter Two, what we called Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, what are fundamental objectives of a government?

For anybody that is aspiring, it is called manifesto, that is why everybody now come with a position paper in the area of environment or education, or health. These are indices that are considered good governance. So, anybody that want to occupy any office, from councillorship to president, you must be able to advance issues that will cause the betterment of people. So, it is in conformity with our constitutional provision,  that is the fundamental objectives for anybody who aspire to govern. The objectives that you have established, you are going to use policy to drive objectives. That's why they say government policy on health, education and so on. So, anybody that want to be governor of Edo state should be able to talk about the economy, social services,  issues of salary payment, basic amenities, roads, schools, you must be able to talk about these issues.

 These will constitute the social contract with the people. When you leave those things and talk of mundane things like who is in EFCC, it only means you don't know the direction you are supposed to go or you don't have anything to offer.  Anybody that want to aspire for public space, any elective position must be able to advance his position on issues that will bother on the people, if you  don't,  you have no competence to aspire for such. So, I don't think carrying campaign of calumny is anything. In Britain and other civilised countries, you must be able to advance a position.

Q:
How would you assess Gov Godwin Obaseki and Pastor Ize-Iyamu adjudged as the leading governorship candidates for the election.

A:
Let me say this very clearly, as a PDP member, you don't expect me not to show preference for the PDP candidate and then you don't expect me to be too judgemental. One has been a governor and the other has not. The one that has been a governor has evidence to show,  while the other one doesn't have anything to show even though he was in government before as an appointee. So, today we expect that the people of Edo state will decide. For my senatorial District all the things that have been done by the present governor is clear for the people to see. Same with Edo Central and North,  but the other man in APC has never been in that position and nothing to show. Let us be dispassionate about it to say this is where we are. 

While one will be making promises the other one will be saying this is what I have done and I want to advance on it. Majority of the people  do not have anything against the governor  when it comes to governance. Civil servants, teachers can attest to the verifiable dividends of good governance. Press people should put the truth in public domain so that the people can take an informed decision. You and I have the responsibilities to say the way it is. He deserves renewal mandate, I do not think he has performed badly.

Q:
From trends in the polity, one sees an impending collision between incumbency powers and Federal Might, can you react to this?

A:
Is the Federal Might going to be used to subvert  the rule of the people?  What incumbency means is that you are here and in government. You are on ground and people are seeing you. Incumbency is even more acceptable than Federal Might. Federal Might  is oppressive and suppresses the rule of the people. That the INEC Chairman and Rtate REC were appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate is not to say you are going to use them to subvert the rule of the people. So, Federal Might and incumbency are two different things. INEC is supposed to be the unbiased umpire. So, is the will of the people that will decide whether you are going to use Federal Might or power of incumbency.

Q:
You were in the 8th Senate with Bukola Saraki as Senate President which refused to confirm Ibrahim Magu as EFCC Chairman; With the investigation of Magu, and top officers of EFCC, would you say they did the right thing??


A:
Nigerians,  particularly the elites have always been the problem. The elites will always want to bend the picture to suit themselves. I  look forward to the identification of that prominent lawyer that is implicated in Magu's investigation   that they have traced money to. I want to be able to tie it to the reaction we saw particularly in the Press during the 8th Senate, and I know why we didn't  confirm
 him. Today, that Senate has been vindicated. 

Once the President makes a nomination and brings it to the Senate, it is not in the Constitution that the EFCC chairman must be confirmed by the senate.  The EFCC Act has it that the President will appoint a chairman subject to confirmation of the Senate. 

The Constitution did not say we should confirm Magu. The Constitution did not say we should confirm IG, but in the appointment of service chiefs and others the Constitution is very clear. The misinformation at that time was that the man has been acting for five years. 

The crux of the matter then was that if a name was sent to us ,  we relied on the DSS to submit to us his/her profile.  So, it was documents that was submitted to us which was read on the floor of the Senate, one document had 15 paragraphs, 14 paragraphs were devoted to Magu while one paragraph cleared the other. 

The last paragraph is that the man was not qualified for that position, that is what came from the DSS. Then they came up trying to victimise Saraki and other senators. Today, FG have seen overwhelming evidence which ought to have happened five years ago. The problem is that we don't learn. How can a criminal be at the helm of affairs in our country ? Those that aspired to go the National Assembly and didn't get elected, the only thing they do now is to throw stones, tantrums. NASS  is now the scape goat for abuse. That place of 109, all of us are professionals in different spheres. Like me, I am an authority in my field and so are the others. 

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