‘Why we’re against emer­gency rule ex­ten­sion’

Sen. Ah­mad Ibrahim Lawan (APC, Yobe North) chairs the Se­nate Pub­lic Ac­counts Com­mit­tee. In this in­ter­view, Lawan in­sists that the emer­gency rule in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States should not be ex­tended. He also speaks on the al­lo­ca­tion of N2 bil­lion by th

Daily Trust - - INSIDE POLITICS - By Tu­raki A. Has­san

Late last year, you raised ob­jec­tion on the al­lo­ca­tion of N2 bil­lion by the Federal govern­ment for the North East de­vel­op­ment ini­tia­tive, it now seems that noth­ing was added in the Se­nate since you raised the mat­ter be­fore the Se­nate.

I have thought af­ter the de­bate on the gen­eral prin­ci­ples of the budget for 2014 where we clearly in­di­cated that the N2 bil­lion pro­posed by the govern­ment for the six states of the re­gion was sim­ply in­ad­e­quate and does not show se­ri­ous­ness and com­mit­ment to the plight of the people. The Se­nate was unan­i­mous that the N2 bil­lion was very in­ad­e­quate and will not make any mean­ing­ful and sig­nif­i­cant im­pact and that it was go­ing to be in­creased.

The budget was pre­sented and passed with the pro­posed N2 bil­lion re­tained un­changed and I had cause to still bring the is­sue be­fore the Se­nate again but the Se­nate had for­got­ten that it ac­cepted the ar­gu­ment and the sub­mis­sion by those of us from the North East that the amount needs to be im­proved upon. Thank God the Se­nate Pres­i­dent and in­deed ev­ery­body ac­cepted that there is need for im­prove­ment on the N2 bil­lion. I am very op­ti­mistic that some­thing will be done about it be­tween the Se­nate and the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Some say the govern­ment’s in­ten­tion was not gen­uine since N3 bil­lion was given to Nol­ly­woood and oth­ers like that. What is your view?

If lead­ers from the North East al­lege that the re­gion is ne­glected by the Federal govern­ment I think to a very sig­nif­i­cant ex­tent they are right be­cause we de­serve some se­ri­ous at­ten­tion from the govern­ment. We de­serve se­ri­ous in­ter­ven­tion but when people see N2 bil­lion al­lo­cated to the en­tire re­gion and at the same time, you are giv­ing so much money to oth­ers even though we are not against giv­ing N3 bil­lion to Nol­ly­wood, but if you look at the dis­par­ity be­tween that and the huge amount of money given to 30,000 ex-mil­i­tants as al­lowances and the amnesty pro­gramme close to N70 bil­lion you can­not re­ally un­der­stand how this hap­pened. Give us what we

de­serve, Federal Govern­ment can do much more bet­ter than that. If they refuse to give us what we de­serve, the Na­tional As­sem­bly mem­bers are Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the people and there­fore know bet­ter where the shoe pinches and we can do bet­ter than N2 bil­lion. I am hope­ful that given the re­cep­tion by the Se­nate Pres­i­dent to the is­sue, some­thing will be done.

But the doc­u­ment has been passed, don’t you think it is be­lated?

No. I don’t think it’s be­lated. Some­thing will surely hap­pened.

But the Se­nate Pres­i­dent said that this must pass and that some­thing could be done later maybe through sup­ple­men­tary ap­pro­pri­a­tion…

No, no, no. It can be done at har­mon­i­sa­tion level. It is not be­lated. I am very con­fi­dent. And I be­lieve in the sin­cer­ity of my col­leagues led by the chair­man of the Na­tional As­sem­bly who has con­sis­tently in­sisted that the par­lia­ment, must cham­pion the cause of the or­di­nary man and to­day there is no any or­di­nary man than the people of the North East who have been trou­bled by lack of job, in­se­cu­rity and at the risk of los­ing their civil lib­erty. So we are the least fa­vored in Nigeria to­day.

But even the N2 bil­lion is a coun­ter­part fund­ing mean­ing that the States and the lo­cal gov­ern­ments may have to come in. Are you okay with such ar­range­ment?

I am to­tally against pro­vi­sion of N2 bil­lion as coun­ter­part fund­ing mak­ing it worse. This goes to show clearly that there was no con­sul­ta­tion be­tween or any se­ri­ous meet­ing point be­tween the Federal govern­ment and our states which are af­fected. The Federal govern­ment should have done more by invit­ing our states to hear from them the things that they think will bring some re­liefs and suc­cor for the people. This is an in­di­ca­tion that the FG has not been en­gag­ing our states.

This is an eye-opener and a wakeup call. And a chance for us to re­view the way things have been go­ing be­tween our states and the cen­tre, per­haps we need to make some pre­sen­ta­tions on that kind of in­ter­ven­tions we want from the Federal govern­ment.

I in­tend to bring a bill very soon that will seek to es­tab­lish a sort of de­vel­op­ment in­ter­ven­tion fund for the North East and my idea is that the Federal govern­ment should bring in some money with the spe­cific projects in mind, the states can par­tic­i­pate in­terms of set­ting the agenda of the Federal govern­ment be­cause Gov­er­nors are in charge of their states and they know the is­sues. And the states com­pli­ment it. I be­lieve that the Pres­i­dent es­pe­cially some of those who ad­vise him may not be sen­si­tive to our plight as a people but he is an elected Pres­i­dent and he is sup­posed to be sen­si­tive to our feel­ings.

Emer­gency rule is ap­proach­ing one year, do you think there is the need to ex­tend it?

I don’t know who is mak­ing the clam­our but as far as I know people who have been un­der the emer­gency rule in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe have said by May 2014, it will come to full cir­cle and that will be 12 months and that should be enough. When we say state of emer­gency should not be ex­tended, we don’t mean you should go and with­draw the se­cu­rity forces from those states. The Federal govern­ment could even de­ploy more if they want but they don’t have to have State of emer­gency in place be­fore they op­er­ate.

People in our states have co­op­er­ated with the Federal govern­ment and the se­cu­rity agencies since May 2013 and by May 2014, it would have been full cir­cle. What we need now is not ex­ten­sion but de­ploy­ment of re­sources to our states to con­tinue with good jobs that the states govern­ment have been try­ing with lit­tle re­sources to pro­vide job op­por­tu­ni­ties for the youth who con­sti­tute the bulk that are be­ing re­cruited to do harm to the so­ci­ety.

If the Pres­i­dent brings a re­quest for ex­ten­sion, will you op­pose it?

Def­i­nitely. I am against it and I will op­pose it. There must never be any ex­ten­sion of the emer­gency rule in the three states and if you must, you must also de­clare same in Katsina, Zam­fara, Kaduna, Benue, Plateau, and Nasarawa States where people are be­ing killed on a daily ba­sis in their hun­dreds. Only re­cently, the army had a mas­sive oper­a­tion in Nasarawa which is not un­der emer­gency rule, yet they went and con­ducted the oper­a­tion. If there is an in­sis­tence then there will be about 12 states to be un­der the emer­gency rule other­wise, there must never be any fur­ther ex­ten­sion be­cause we have co­op­er­ated enough. We don’t need any emer­gency rule be­fore the mil­i­tary op­er­ate and we are pre­pared to help the se­cu­rity agencies to suc­ceed. I am sure the Pres­i­dent will be ad­vised not to bring any re­quest on that again.

Sen. Ah­mad Ibrahim Lawan

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