Rt. Hon. Hassan Abdullahi Baiwa is the immediate past Deputy Speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly and the current Honourable member representing Dekina/Bassa Federal Constituency at the National Assembly, in this interview with Our correspondent in the National Assembly, Abuja, the lawmaker said he has been able to facilitated employment for over 500 youths in his constituency and spoke on other sundry issues. Except
Good day sir, you have been in office for two years and few months now, what would you say are your achievements?
Ans: Well, I want to sincerely appreciate you for the opportunity to hear from me how far it has been since I was elected as a member of the National Assembly to represent my people at this level. I have not really granted any interviews since I came on board because I felt there is so much more to do before I can begin to amplify it to the world. Like you know now, there is no election without litigation, mine was a very tedious one that everybody heard about it, that I was about to be sent out of the National Assembly because in the whole Kogi State, only me lost at the Election Tribunal but incidentally, God gave it to me back at the Appeal Court, I thank God for that. It was a long journey; it took us almost nine months battling with the litigations before God gave us victory. Within that period one was not focused in the House, there was so much uncertainty that nobody knew what was coming up next even those that won at the tribunal lost at the Appeal, which brought a lot of tension.
Incidentally we were lucky, immediately after that we started putting our plans into action, usually everyone has his or her own style of leadership, I have a style that is little different from some people, I don’t like to make too much noise. I like my performances to speak for me loudly, though because of the litigation challenges in the first year, most of the things we are doing are still in the making because I want to achieve a hundred percent on those projects before we can take it to the public. However, we have being able to reach out to some of our people, some legislatives milestone has been achieved but as regards dishing dividends of democracy out to our people, we have been able to do little, we have been able to facilitate employment for our people especially youths, so far, I think let me not exaggerate, we have helped in placing, averagely about 400 to 500 of our people within this two years and few months. It is not because one is having different opportunities but because we take it as a passion to see how we can place our people; we take it as a priority to help our people.
However, aside from employment, we have also done a few projects in the constituency. We have completed 16 boreholes projects, in the current budget running, we still have about 9 boreholes which will come after the budget is fully implemented. We have also put solar street light in some communities within the constituency, like Ayingba, despite its large size; almost all the streets of Ayingba metropolis have been covered with solar street lights also in Bassa local government, we have fixed solar lights in Oguma, Gboloko communities, while the one in Mosu is ongoing, its fixing will commence any moment from now. We have also fixed some in the Abocho community. We have also been able to facilitate mini-grid power stations in five locations within Dekina/Bassa federal constituency; you know it is difficult to take electricity to some places, so, we decided to liaise with Rural Electrification Agency in collaboration with the World Bank to put mini-grid in five locations to boost the power supply in those areas. One will be in Emewe – Ogane, Ofojo community will also get one, Ogbabede community will also benefit, Ogale-eungu will benefit and Emidale community in Bassa will also get one while more communities will benefit in the second phase of the projects. We also have rural electrification projects in some parts of Ayingba and Abocho area. Those projects are completed. So in the area of education, there are projects going on in six different schools. The construction of three blocks of classrooms for each of the six schools will be completed in no time. We also have an ICT centre in one secondary school, two roads has been captured, one is ongoing while the second one is already in the budget and it will be implemented. We have projects here and there; I am only waiting till the end of this year’s budget, so I can put them together in a printable form for people to see what we have been able to do so far. Like I said, I have not granted any interviews because I want to wait to put them together because there are a lot of things I may not remember to tell you now. Outside that I have a usual way of reaching out to my people, I have empowerment programs that is currently running, 5 people each were nominated from the over three hundred and seventy units, who are undergoing training in different trades of their choice and at the end of their training they will be empowered with the equipments and tools of what they trained on. We have ten different trades available. We have fashion design, bakery, poultry, fishery, vulcanizer, web design etc. We have about 920 people in fashion design alone. They are currently in training and each of them will get their sewing machine at the end of the program in December. We are eighty percent done with the procurement of the equipment. We will empower everybody in the training centre. Also we are not forgetting the widows and our women; they will also get something to assist them too. We have a lot of programs for the youths, we don’t want to make it public because by the time you make it public, it will bring a lot of pressure on me, and I will not let out the cat now. All these things will come by the first quarter of next year, 2022; by then it will be visible for people to see. Like now if you take nine months of litigation out of the time I have spent, it means I have only spend one year and about five months because you have to remove the litigation time, due to the litigation I miss out from the first year budget preparation, I could not put anything because I was not on ground but by the time we have our empowerment program, people will be able to see how far we have gone.
Question: Sir, you were a former member of the State Assembly, now a member of the National Assembly, how would you compare the two assemblies?
Ans: Well, the National Assembly is like an extension or an upgrade of the State Assembly, the operation are a bit different, legislation is legislation, the core function of legislature is the same thing, appropriating, legislating and oversight, is about the same thing but there are other things that we may not know, the National Assembly covers the whole Nigeria, whichever committees you find yourself, you are going to cover places that has to do with the whole country, so it is a bit different, but it gives one broader opportunities to reach out, here you are connected to everywhere in Nigeria, it is a very huge opportunity, it is not a small opportunity for one to be among the representatives of the entire Nigeria, there is a slight difference if not legislation is legislation. Obviously, you know we have total autonomy here, we are not looking unto Mr. President to tell us to do this or to do that, our money does not come from him, so it gives you some level of freedom to express yourself, to defend and speak for your people not minding how one or two persons will feel but in the State Assembly, yes, we have the same freedom but we are mindful of one or two things, that is just the slight difference.
Question: What would you say are the challenges, two years, few months in office, aside the litigation?
Not too bad, but the problem we are having is a general problem, our people seem not to understand the function of the legislature, so they expect too much from us and it is because of the kind of education they have, you cannot blame somebody that is asking out of ignorance at times, to our people they believe as a legislator, you are to construct roads, build schools, hospitals etc, meanwhile they forget the fact that we only legislate, we don’t have access to spend the money, the implementation of the budget lies with the executive not the legislature. I wish our people will redirect whatever expectation they have on the legislature to focus it on the executive, so they can ask them, this money is been budgeted for, how well have you implemented it, by the time they face the right direction, I think that is the only way, we can make progress. It is very challenging, people expect you to do more than what you earn, the impression outside is that the house or legislature is taking so much money which is false. People intend to look at that and put a lot of pressure on the legislature which actually is a wrong notion, but by the time they face the right direction, you will get the right answer, I wish our people know that their money actually lie with the executives.
2023 is at hand, are you seeking reelection or what is the plan?
Well, the thought in my mind right now is to do my best to justify the mandate given to me in 2019 which will run to 2023 by the people of Dekina/Bassa Federal Constituency. Like I said earlier, the nine months litigation period was a huge setback for me but however, we have moved on, that era has come and gone, so I want to dedicate myself for now, the little time I have left to make judicious use of it for the benefit of my people. So by the time we move close to the election, if my people are convinced that I have represented them well, they will be the one to decide whether I will re-contest or not. You know every politician will want reelection but there is need to justify the one I have at hand before talking of reelection. Like I said before I don’t want to grant any interview because I have not done as much as I desired for my people, though people maybe saying I have done something but to me, I have not hit the target I set for myself due to the litigation and lack of resources, the country is not buoyant as before, it is also affecting us in the National Assembly to achieve some of our set goals for our various constituencies. So going into 2023, our performances will determine our next line of action but my priority right now is to continue to work for the benefit of the generality of my people.
Sir, what do you have to say about the APC, your party: is the party on the right path for the country?
APC as a party is not doing badly, nobody is perfect, in the course of making any journey, one is bound to make one or two mistakes, the ability to correct them make you who you are. APC as a party may have made mistakes but I can see that the mistakes are being corrected already, our party is still far better compare to other political parties, I am not a member of other political parties to know exactly their operations but from afar, I can see that APC is not doing badly, people are still decamping to our party, APC on daily basis, if we are not doing well, people will not be coming to join us, on the floor of the house, you see people joining our party, even on national media, we see how people are trooping in to our party. I believe going forward APC is well positioned for better performance in the coming years. Thank you.