NASS is worried by the state of the nation but, —Tunji-Ojo
The member representing Akoko North-East/North West Federal Constituency of Ondo State and Chairman, House Committee on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Honourable Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, speaks on his plans and the inauguration of the ninth National Assembly.
A lot of people still say the House Representatives will be a rubber stamp of the executive arm of government because of the circumstances that thrust the principal officers to office; that their emergence was based on the directives of the governing All Progressives Party, APC. How will you rationalise the issue?
That is far from it.I think that it is misinformation. Anybody who knows Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila will know that he is a man who works according to the commission of his heart. He is a thorough bred professional. And for the mere fact that the choice of the party came through, it is not tantamount to rubber stamp. It only tells us that we have more to gain in the act of collaboration between the two arms of government rather than fighting. I believe the experience of the last four years has shown Nigerians that we have nothing to gain by fighting. I want to assure Nigerians that Honourable Gbajabiamila is the best hand that can pilot the affairs of the House; that he and others will propel this country to the next level of development and greatness. He is the most experienced legislator we have in the House leadership position. He is a thorough-bred professional who will further enhance and ensure that Nigerians get what they really desire from democracy.
What has been your experience since the inauguration of the ninth Assembly?
The experience has been splendid. I have had the opportunity of contributing my quota to issues of security, socioeconomic development and I’m still contributing. Above all, I have the opportunity of learning arguably from the most successful and accomplished leader in the National Assembly in the person of Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila who was our minority leader, majority leader and now speaker. I have the opportunity of learning from him the act of legislation and how to use the instrumentality of the House to better the lives of Nigerians. I can only get better and I can guarantee you that the ninth National Assembly will be the best in the history of this country. I am glad to be part of the ninth session. Barely a month after the inauguration of the National Assembly, a total of 287 bills had passed first reading, with two passing second reading in the House. Also, a total of 63 resolutions were made by the House urging the executive arm of government to take action on some national issues and mandating House committees to take necessary actions arising from motions deliberated on the floor of the House. Without hesitation, the committees have made considerable advancement, investigating pressing public issues such as the legislative crises in the Edo and the Bauchi state Houses of Assembly, the recent pipeline explosion somewhere in Lagos, among others.
Speaker Gbajabiamila has just released the list of chairmen of the Standing Committees of the House. As the chairman of the committee on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), what are your expectations being a new member?
Don’t forget that I was in the private sector and I am a management consultant. I have done a lot of research work before getting into the House, NDDC, the Niger Delta, petroleum, the oil and gas sector. I am experienced in that aspect and I want you to know that we are going to bring all our experience over the years to redefine the lives of our people. The time to redefine the lives of our people is now, we can’t wait till tomorrow. The House has a thorough job of oversight to do to ensure that the commission remains faithful to its core mandate, which is to develop both the infrastructure and the human capital in the Niger Delta region. This I can guarantee that under my watch or my supervision as the committee chairman, the job will be thoroughly done. Moreso, we will be collaborating with regular stakeholders to ensure that peace is sustained in the Niger Delta. I must reiterate that my appointment into the committee has graciously come with its many responsibilities. Clearly, there are expectations to be met and challenges to overcome. I am also conscious of the loud yearnings of all our people that make up the Niger-Delta. But, I can boldly state here that disappointment and failure do not have any place in my operational mindset.
I also want to warmly assure my honourable colleagues and the people to state that every privilege and opportunity within the ambit of my influence as the NDDC House Committee chairman will be maximally explored to positively impact their lives. I promise to expertly use the instrumentality of legislation to give deserved attention to the human capital and the infrastructural development in all the mandate states. The issue of environment degradation will likewise be given optimum priority while discharging our oversight function. No effort will be spared to comprehensively undertake our responsibilities in the committee.
What is your take on the increasing wave of insecurity in the land?
The National Assembly is worried too like other Nigerians in the terrible way we have now found ourselves but all hope is not lost. We are collaborating with the executive very well to end the ugly development. I can remember that last week before we went on recess, we had an executive session where we came out with certain strategies of interfacing with the executive to find a lasting solution to security issues in the country and I want to guarantee you that the House is on top of the situation. We are relating with the executive and the Senate, and as a government of the APC, we are relating with other stakeholders including the heads of the nation’s security agencies. I want to assure you that in no time, the insecurity issue in the land will be a thing of the past, it is a phase and it will phase out.
Do you think the executive is doing enough to end insurgency and banditry in the country?
I think the executive is working, it is doing a good job. Yes, maybe we can do better which I agree but the executive is not doing badly. I think what we need at this point in time is not to apportion blames. What we need is for the legislative arm of government, the executive and the judiciary to all come together and take this problem head on from a common approach of ensuring that Nigerians can sleep with their two eyes closed. I want to assure you that as leaders, we are not resting, we are coming up with creative ideas to curb this menace and by the grace of God, in no time, Nigerians will be able to go to their bed and sleep with their two eyes closed.
What is your advice to Nigerians, especially at this trying time in the life of the country?
They should please be a little patient; we will surely get to the Promised Land, it may appear to be too slow or that the government is not doing anything, it is not so, considering where the APC government took off and what it has been going through till now. Remember, Rome was not built in a day. It will be slow but steady and at the end of the tunnel, there will be light. Nigerians will have cause to smile with the way President Muhammadu Buhari, the legislature and the judiciary are piloting the affairs of the country to the next level of development and greatness.