Hon. Hassan A. Omale, who represents Ankpa, Olamaboro and Omala federal constituency of Kogi State in the green chamber of the National Assembly, says President Muhammadu Buhari is being careful in order not to go the way of other leaders that failed. Omale also speaks on the recent ruling by the Kogi State Governorship Election Tribunal and Federal High Court ruling saying that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) failure to give Hon. James Faleke the joint ticket he had with late Prince Abubakar Audu remains a problem. These and other issues are contained in this interview he granted AUSTIN JOHNSON
Some people see the APC government led by President Muhammadu Buhari as being slow. What is your view?
The President has replied his critics several times on this issue. Nigerians need to be patient with the government of the day. Let us look back at 2014 when the unemployed graduates were beginning to lose hope and corruption was at its peak, while Boko Haram insurgents were in almost every part of the North. There was confusion in the country. So, the coming of President Buhari and the APC administration is bringing hope back to the people. What this administration is doing is trying to re-lay a solid foundation for the nation. Any reasonable driver on the road should know that for him to arrive safely at his destination, he has to move slow and steady. This is what Mr. President is doing. Buhari does not want to crash like others. He is careful over what he does. He has fought the Boko Haram to stand still, though there are some pockets of resistance in some places. Why should an individual pocket N54 million monthly, it is unfair. If the ‘power to the people’s party’ had continued to govern this country, by now, you and I would have been in serious trouble. Take power for instance, despite huge amount of money expended, we cannot boast of steady power supply because of corruption. In order to solve the problem and others, the APC government is undertaking a massive employment drive with the recruitment of over 500,000 teachers, ten thousand police officers and more others on the way. This is just happening in our first year in office and by the time the APC government is two years, I assure you that all those saying that President Buhari is slow will begin to say, ‘please slow down, you are too fast’ because every facet of the economy would have been touched.
What will you attribute to the relative stability being experienced at the House of Representatives inspite of the budget padding allegations?
It is all about style and leadership quality. The leadership of Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara is commendable. His level of accepting advice from members is what is keeping the House going. Because he has a listening ear, he does not lack good advice from members. The Speaker also enjoys good political will and support from members in the discharge of his responsibility.
What is your take on the recent ruling by the Federal High Court on the Kogi State Governorship Election?
The judgment was an indictment on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The Commission’s argument was that the margin of votes was not up to the number of vote cast. That only 290,000 people got PVC out of the 410,000 voters. Going by what the constitution says in section 181 subsection 1, that a deputy or vice can step in if the principal is gone. And by law of association, James Faleke is an associate of late Audu, who should have been allowed to take over the mandate, but was truncated by some political elements. Why should an election already won by someone be called inconclusive? Late Prince Abubakar Audu won that election. He was robbed of victory which probably led to his death. What happened to MKO Abiola was similar to what happened to Prince Audu. The governorship election conducted before the death of Audu was free and fair. I was astonished when it was cancelled by some people. Why the Independent National Electoral Commission should cancel an election already won by Prince Audu with over 241,000 as against 100,000 plus for his opponent, is difficult to understand? It was a day light robbery.
But INEC did not declare Prince Audu as winner of that election?
INEC committed blunder in Kogi governorship election. INEC has no different constitution to that of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The constitution says that in such a situation that the second person takes over, but INEC did not adhere to that provision. The people of Kogi are waiting for the last hope of the common man, which is the Supreme Court judgment to determine who the governor of Kogi State is.
It is alleged that tribal politics between the Igala, Ebira and Okun speaking people of Kogi state was what played out during the governorship election. How true is it?
Kogi people are suffering because of lack of good governance rather than tribal politics as being alleged. The Igalas, Eberas and the Okun are all complaining over what is happening in the state and bad governance in place. Every person is crying in Kogi State. Nobody is happy, they are regretting already. It is not enough to be in a State House without impacting on the lives of the people that voted you into power. To be a leader, you must carry every one along in governance in order to develop the state. I can’t remember any Igala man that went to court over the election. We believe that James Faleke had a joint ticket with late Prince Audu. That Prince Audu died did not stop the Igala man from supporting Faleke. It is not the issue of tribe, as I said earlier, but the question is, has the leadership in the state been able to unite the people and bring in stakeholders together. The impeached Speaker of the State House of Assembly is not an Igala man and was not impeached by the Igalas. So, it is not the issue of tribal sentiment, but the inability of a leader to know the need of the people and to carry them along.
Kogi State is believed to be one of the worse hit over non-payment of salary and unemployment despite Federal Government’s bailout fund last year. How true is this?
I do not know if Kogi state got any money since I was not there. But it is unfortunate that lack of focused leadership is robbing the people good development. The members of staff of the state University have been on strike for nonpayment of their entitlements and the insensitivity or attitude of the government to their plight. About 40 senior lecturers are about to resign their employment. There is no reasonable government that will seat comfortable to allow such to continue to happen. It is only in Kogi state that salaries are being paid on percentage basis. Take for instance, Obajana Cement Company and Ajaokuta steel rolling mills, these are projects that every Nigerian and Kogi people ought to be happy with. These two projects, if properly harness can turn around the Nigeria industries and the economy of Kogi State by generating billions of naira and employ thousands of peoples. But, unfortunately the Ajaokuta mills is turning to be a white elephant project. It is the desire of our people if the government revives the project. It is also on record that apart from Nasarawa state, no state in Nigeria top Kogi with mineral deposit. This is why I said it can only take someone with a vision to develop Kogi State. As the Federal Government is diversifying the economy of the nation, we are also expecting the Kogi government to follow suit. I pray that the federal government will be more serious to make Ajaokuta work. Kogi State needs God’s special intervention.