Open letter: Obasanjo spoke the minds of most Nigerians —Tukur, ex-Bauchi lawmaker
Muhammad Aminu Tukur is a former member of the Bauchi State House of Assembly and one of the vocal politicians in the state. In this interview with ISHOLA MICHAEL, he bared his mind on the recent open letter by former President Olusegun Obasanjo as well as the leadership crisis in the Bauchi State House of Assembly.
ON Monday 15th July, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in his usual manner, released an open letter to the President Muhammadu Buhari talking about issues of insecurity and other national issues. What is your reaction to the letter?
I have every reason to appreciate him and thank him for coming up with such a letter. Despite the fact that I have some observations with regard to the content of the letter, however, that does not mean that in his capacity as a one-time former Military Head of State and two-term president and a very senior citizen for that matter, certainly he has every reason to communicate to the president and to the entire citizens of the country. I have seen some citations he made with regard to the position of the United States government from the Parliament to the Executive and what transpired in the House of the Lords in the United Kingdom and I have every reason to appreciate him. But that does not mean that I don’t have a point of criticism with regard to the content of the letter.
In the first place, he made mention of the security situation in the country, nobody can dispute the fact that the country is tensed. He has come up with a position on converging to have a dialogue so that the problems of the country will be ameliorated. He made mention of instances that has to do with his participation in the civil war, the participation of his son directly or indirectly to fight against Boko Haram and what have you. Nobody can dispute that. We have to look at the content of the Constitution. Should we have any reason to dialogue, we will then definitely go back to the National Assembly for the elected official there to do the needful. So, while I agree with the former president that we must have to dialogue but dialoguing has to do with the fact that states should come up with a kind of formidable team of qualified and capable minds who can come up with the position of each component of the country. If that position is obtained, it should be taken to the state Houses of Assembly for approval and for onward transmission to the National Assembly.
So, in that regard, we will solve a lot of problems and if it entails having a public hearing , it is the duty of the National Assembly to make a pronouncement that people should come and defend their positions then states should send in their representatives to go and defend their positions.
Will you say that the president has abdicated his responsibility as the Chief Security of the Nigerian state?
I don’t think he has done that, but probably he is not doing it the way it is supposed to be done. He is operating at a lower percentage than required of him to.
The president when he hosted the leadership of the National Assembly recently said that he is under pressure to nominate some people as his cabinet members. What is your reaction to that?
That goes to show that he’s not the one that is ruling the country. He has admitted by his own humble self. We have been saying it that stooges are running the affairs of this country, not the president, not the Muhammadu Buhari we knew as a Military Head of State. That was how we had problems with the party we were forced out of it because of his inaction. So, invariably, if he made a pronouncement that he is been forced to do so, then we will have to believe him.
Now, coming to Bauchi State, there has been acrimony in the State Assembly. What do you the issues are?
The problem of a black man is beyond what you can imagine. You can view as a problem of Bauchi State, but let me tell you even if you go to the national level you will discover that the problem is all over. it has so for quite some time. Remember what transpired on the floor of the House on the 15th of May 2019, the standing orders of the Bauchi State House of Assembly which is very much known to me states that the House session should commence at 10am, and usually that house session that commences at 10am, commences at the office of the Speaker when only members will come in and discuss issues to be tabled on the floor of the House. In usual circumstances, it takes hours to come up with a position, usually running to even approaching midday, then thereafter, the House session will commence, after coming into agreement with regards to issues to be tabled for debate.
That very day in question, with the former Speaker, Alhaji Kawuwa Shehu Damina presiding, all of us that are known to be just were not informed of an ulterior motive to converge in the House at 7:30am which is against the standing rules of the of the House so that the bidding of the former governor could be done. That same former governor was the one that came up with a law in 2017 requesting the House to approve for him to set up a panel to investigate his predecessor. That law was approved for him and he signed it and it became a law. Sensing that the same law, as the adage that goes by the saying that “man has always been the architect of his misfortune, he decided to use his position with probably inducement to get his cronies who don’t have the interest of the state at heart to converge in the House and change the law without us knowing. Now, by our standard as I rightly observed, the house must not sit before 10am. Shamefully, they recorded their session to have started at 10:35am. Where are we heading to? Now, the current parliament, that is the ninth assembly, has every reason to commence even at midnight by the orders of the House. It has every reason to commence at midnight because it is the first session that determines the procedure. It is the session that will determine the kind of time pattern that will be followed throughout the legislative session, unless if it is being hanged by the sitting of the House again. So, for them to have converged earlier than 10am on that very day they elected the present leadership of the House, nobody can fault them by the position of the law.
So, what is the way out?
The way out is known to all of us. We must learn to practise democracy on its tenets not in our personal interest. It has to be done the way it should be done, the way it is been accepted universally. That is the only remedy to our problems.
The House of Representatives is in Edo and Bauchi, what is your reaction to this?
According to the 1999 Constitution, where there is a problem in any state, the Federal House of Representatives should take over the Assembly matters in that specific state in question. So, having a special committee by the National Assembly to go to Edo and Bauchi States is in order. Whatever they do we will have to assume that they will do it in accordance with the provision of the constitution. Should they derail and do what they want simply because of their party affiliation, then it will be unfortunate.