Hon Dauda Kako – Are represents Mushin 1 federal constituency in the House of Representatives. He has a commanding presence in the politics of the South–west, going by his political mettle over the years.
in this interview, the quiet and unassuming politician who jettisoned the All Progressives Congress (APC) to win another term on the platform of the Accord Party speaks on Contemporary national issues. Excerpts:
What is your impression of the Buhari administration?
Well, so far, so good, what he has succeeded in doing is to let people have attitudinal change. We now have electricity more than before. It’s all because of attitude. A lot of people know he is a no-nonsense man and they don’t want to lose their jobs so they have to change. So, I think what he has done is to send a signal to people that they have to be on their toes or else they will be shown the way out. We should give that to him. A lot of improvement has taken place because they know his attitude and they know his character. Overall, so far, so good.
What is your take on his anti-corruption campaign?
I don’t have any problem with that, if you embezzle money, you have to return it. Not only that, he’s also discouraging people from further embezzlement. He is not only trying to retrieve the looted money, he is also looking at spending it so that we don’t have a case like the EFCC which got a lot of money back and we don’t know how they spent it. It has to be a two- way affair. We want to know how much is with you and how much is paid back.
How do you see the restriction of probes to the Jonathan administration?
We should start from may be the Obasanjo administration. if you are saying you want to start from a civilian government, then it will have to be from the start.
How do you see Buhari’s appointments?
It’s not in line with the constitution. It should reflect federal character, but then let’s give it to him because his spokesman said it will soon go round. Let us see how they do it in the next few days. So far, the appointments have been one-sided.
Do you agree with those accusing him of using military tactics?
I don’t think so, I think his trying to be a civilian. That he did not get involve in the affairs of the National Assembly when there was crisis means he is tying to be a civilian. Even others that claimed to be civilian president, went beyond their bounds. It’s too early to predict what Buhari is going to do, but so far, so good.
What do you make of the claims and counter claims about Buhari’s 100 days in office promises?
If people are not happy with him on his first 100 days, it is just to point his attention to some of the issues raised. He can then go ahead to correct himself, maybe in 150 days, may be in 200 days. They are just trying to keep him on his toes. No problem about that, Nigerians will have their say, it is for him now to respond.
How do you then react to the claim by APC’ spokesman that Buhari did not make such promises?
Lai Muhammed is the party’s spokesman. He is a person whom I have a lot of respect for, but this is not a party affair. Nigerians are talking to their president directly.
If there is going to be any defence, it should come from the spokesman of the president. So, I don’t see any correlation in that. We should allow the president to talk, and I will encourage Nigerians to listen to whatever the president says. I’m not saying they should accept.
Do you think the 8th National Assembly has done well thus far?
Well, there are so many issues when you talk about the National Assembly. Like I said before, I will say it’s too early to assess. It’s the legislature that makes the difference between democratic and military rule, so people should be careful about getting us back to the military era. There are so many things legislators are doing – we are accessible, so people who cannot easily see governors, ministers come to us because we are always there. I think we should be allowed to even do more.
How do you then reconcile the fact that the National Assembly has only sat for two weeks since it was inaugurated in June?
You see, there are so many jobs we do. If you are talking about seating, you are talking of plenary. There are so many Jobs we do. Do you know that even as we are on holidays, some of us are working? So, it’s not only during plenary that we work. There are a lot of work we have to do. There are lots of studies we do before plenary, so don’t judge us by the number of days we seat. Judge us by what we are able to achieve.
A lot of Assembles will have the kind of crises, we had recently and it will take them months to resolve like what happened in Egypt.
What are the lessons from the National Assembly crises?
Well, it’s all part of the learning process. Don’t forget that this democracy is just about sixteen years. I’m sure the APC would have learnt one or two lessons. They would have known that you don’t take certain things for granted, especially when it comes to people that have their own ideas. I am not in APC, so I won’t be able to talk much for them.
Where do you stand on the reduction of emoluments of members of the National Assembly?
What are we saying? We are talking about three percent (of national budget). Three percent is negligible. Look, if Nigerians are talking about cutting cost, it’s not with the legislators. For instance, I’m entitled to one car. That is all I get. What of a commissioner that will be given about five, six cars? What of ministers, Governors? I was just reading that they’re reducing the security details of governors from 105 to 62.
What are we talking about? What is salary slash to the president? Is he not been fed with our money, clothed, transported with being our money? if I were him, I will even give it out. And when you are talking about reduction (of emoluments), we’ve reduced it. What we are saying is that we can’t go beyond the reduction? A lot of people rely on us. Let us see how the governors will survive with ten policemen.
The EFCC is probing the senate president’s wife and the senate is also probing the EFCC boss, how do you see this?
The EFCC, from what I read invited the wife of the senate president for questioning. Yes, we can say it’s a probe. But that is not to say the Senate cannot probe the EFCC. What are we talking about? That monies seized cannot be found. That is all. The issue of morality does not even arise.
The wife of the senate president is just the wife of the senate president, and we are talking of the senate as an institution, an arm of government, so what are talking about? So, if tomorrow the EFCC is probing the wife of Buhari, we should now ask Buhari to resign as president? It doesn’t really tally. The senate as an organization, as a separate arm of government in the course of investigating the EFCC, although you can say he will put his people there (on the committee), but the first issue is are they witch hunting EFCC? Are there facts in what they are saying? I think there are facts. It’s a petition. It’s not a faceless petition. The guy that petitioned came with facts; we should encourage EFCC to continue to probe the wife of saraki, while we should also encourage the senate to continue to probe the EFCC.
Don’t you think the absence of National Assembly committees is a major hindrance to performing your duties?
Our rules enable us to have different committees; there are the normal committees and ad-hoc committees. Anytime, the presiding officer can constitute an ad-hoc committee to handle any matter, pending when standing committee will be constituted. It doesn’t slow us down in anyway. For instance, the committee probing the EFCC is an ad-hoc committee
You moved from the APC to contest on accord party Platform, tell us your experience?
Moving from one party to another, was not much of a problem for me, the people know me, and I’m happy they voted for me, I want to think them for that. They know me; they know what I can do. They know Kako-Are moving from APC to Accord party will surely do more. Politics now has to do with personality, not necessarily the party. A lot of people were dissatisfied with Jonathan. They wanted somebody that can do better, so they voted for Buhari. You can see the Sai Baba effect all over Nigeria. So it’s the person. Once again, I thank God, I thank the people for believing in me, and for believing that anywhere I go they also go.
What were your initial fears after you moved on?
My own case was peculiar because it was not based on being denied the ticket. I did not seek party nomination ab – initio. It was a case of preparing the minds of my supporters that APC can no longer contain us, we are moving to another party. There was no single moment of uncertainty, we were just focused
You probably did the least campaign, how did you sail through?
A lot of people know Kako, over the years, we’ve known for long.
Do you know somebody even said he was ready to fly me to London until after the election, betting with his life that I will win the election? Even when we wanted to paste our posters, a lot of people collected them and pasted for us. As they say, the taste of pudding is in the eating.
What are the lessons this has taught you?
People should just go and serve their people. Four years is just like one day, they should fulfill their promises to the people. They don’t necessarily have to come to you before you do it
How true is the rumor that you may dump Accord party for APC?
For those behind the rumors, there is a Supreme Court judgment that forbids such. I remain in Accord party hundred percent. I love Accord. Though we discuss the issue, majority of the people want me to stay with Accord.
BY REMI ADEFULU, SUN