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‘Nigeria will see hell if Niger goes through fire’

Few days ago we left this country for a visit to Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau. On our way to Guinea Bissau, we stopped over…

Few days ago we left this country for a visit to Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau. On our way to Guinea Bissau, we stopped over in Sierra Leone. I’m a member of the delegation led by the Speaker of the parliament. We actually stopped over to pay a courtesy call on the government, people and parliament of that country. The visit was fruitful. We had meetings with the government and the parliament of Sierra Leone. We are projecting the need of the parliament to see the movement of ECOWAS of state to ECOWAS of the people. That is what the protocol of ECOWAS is driving at. The ECOWAS parliament is coming towards an end of the present session, and then there is need to know and identify with the people of these communities, to inform them on the plans of the parliament to move from non-elective to direct election through universal suffrage.

What is ECOWAS doing about the political crisis in Niger Republic?

ECOWAS parliament has condemned the Niger government in trying to truncate the constitution of Niger for selfish purposes. The Council of Heads of State in this sub-region has constituted a mediator panel headed by former President Abdulsalami Abubakar. I feel challenged that Nigeria being the focus in this sub-region should do something speedily. I expect a more decisive position about Niger because the political instability of Niger will affect Nigeria seriously because Nigeria has a boarder with Niger.

Now that ECOWAS has condemned it, is there any implication if the president goes ahead to implement his agenda?

Of course, there are implications. I expect it does not get to that point. The president should be pressurised using all diplomatic approaches to discourage him from taking the decision that will endanger democracy in this sub-region.

It appears that tenure elongation crisis is gradually becoming a culture in Africa.

Tenure elongation is not a culture in Africa. I don’t see it as a culture because every country is sovereign and every country has a constitution.

If an individual decides to bring up issues that are not in conformity with the doctrine of the country, that is entirely a different thing. Some countries have experimented it and failed because it is no longer fashionable. Nigeria has experienced a case when attempts to amend the constitution with the hope to elongate tenure did not work! That is why I said Nigeria is playing a great role in the sub-region because it is an epitome of democracy in the sub-region.

How can ECOWAS be strengthened to enforce its resolutions?

ECOWAS as a parliament has a lot of weaknesses emanating from the protocol establishing it. ECOWAS is expected to play an advisory role. It doesn’t have the power to enforce laws. The council of Heads of State is appointed. There is the need for direct election through universal suffrage. That is where the ECOWAS parliament is heading now. Direct election will move us from ECOWAS parliament of states to ECOWAS parliament of the people.

What is the difference between ECOWAS parliament of the people and of states?

The difference is that the present constitution of this parliament is formed through indirect election. People were appointed into the parliament not on the basis of a direct election.

Coming to Nigeria, do you think the electoral reform committee’s recommendations will be passed before the end of this dispensation?

That is my belief. I wish they are passed before the next general elections. The parliament is working on them.

As the only opposition party member from Benue State in the House of Representatives, what have been your challenges?

I face challenges because of the need to prove that one in opposition can do something good. I am playing the role in the area of quality leadership.

Has the executive arm of government lived up to its expectation in this dispensation?

A developing country has its challenges. We are trying to surmount the challenges.  It took so many years for places we call developed countries to be developed.

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