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Senate must guard against witch-hunt – Kabiru Gaya

By Ibraheem Hamza Muhammad Do you think there is departure in approach to governance between the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and that of ex-President Goodluck…

By Ibraheem Hamza Muhammad

Do you think there is departure in approach to governance between the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and that of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan?

 The amount of money spent in the fight against insurgency has been reduced and the government is taming corruption in all ramifications with many rewarded for becoming volunteers and whistleblowers. I like the fight against corruption and how they make arrests. But, I want the Senate to come in to guard against witch-hunt against good citizens, like the issue of Senator Danjuma Goje, where police ransacked his house and the soak-away and nothing was found while he was busy working on the budget.

How are you faring as a senator?

I proposed the bill on the establishment of North East Development Commission (NEDC). This prompted leaders of the North East to come to Abuja and thank the leaders of the National Assembly and me, who sponsored the bill, despite being a senator from Kano. My aim is to see the country developed through rehabilitation and reconstruction of the North East; assist the commission to get donations from international donors. 

In the 7th Senate, we approved N150 billion for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for rehabilitation of the youth. Similarly, I raised a bill on the need for the establishment of a court to fight corruption. I did that because we have N2.5 trillion recovered from looters and deposited in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Only N500 billion can be accessed while the remaining N2 trillion is still there in the bank. However, if the bill is passed and the president signs it, judges would be selected by the National Judicial Commission (NJC), appointed by the President and approved by the Senate. The bill entails that any case must be concluded within three to nine months maximum.

Why is the recovered money not accessible to the Federal Government despite economic hardship and budget deficit?

Very good; this money is already being contested between the accused and the government in courts… there are cases of corruption since the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo to date. Buhari wants to work and he needs money to do so.

Many people are calling the National Assembly names for delaying the 2017 budget, are you comfortable?

People think the National Assembly delayed the budget deliberately, but the Senate President Bukola, Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara, were very keen on the budget. But when we looked at the budget, there were so many things that needed to be addressed. I said we cannot finish it until April and they shouted at me; but I explained that President Buhari said in the council, in January, that he approved 36 road projects, and I know that they were not captured in the 2017 budget but in the 2016 budget. That is why we had to check the budget of 2017 carefully… This is why I commend Saraki, Dogara, Goje and Dawaki because we studied the budget item by item, and we were able to finish the budget and submitted it to the government. The budget of the Ministry of Works was about N28 billion during the last administration and when Buhari came, he made a budget of N280 billion on roads and N350 billion this year as his commitment to have good roads across the country. And the National Assembly has amended the act to reduce the long process of procurement to three or four months because projects approved for 2016 were not procured until March and April of this year (2017). These are the reasons why we had the delay.

Are you fulfilled as a former governor and now a senator for the second term in a row?

This is a very difficult question. I thank God as I have been in politics since 1982 when I wanted to contest for Senate. I was too young then but I wanted to mingle with people. I supported Alhaji Aminu Wali in the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN). After the coup, I went back to my drawing board as an architect. Later, I contested and won election as Governor of Kano and I am trying to remain relevant in politics. My fulfillment is to serve my people and I am doing my best and supporting my state with constituency projects, like the introduction of irrigation pumps to boost dry season farming, schools, clinics, boreholes and tube wells, amongst others. I sometimes have sleepless nights as people come to me day and night. My joy is speaking, talking, sharing and helping people. But I am human, I tell them the truth whether I can assist on some certain issues or not, some understand that I don’t want to lie and I am simple, but some don’t.

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