Hon. Nnenna Elendu Ukeje, the affiliate of the House of Representatives apery Bende Federal Constituency, is additionally the Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. She speaks with BOLAJI OGUNDELE on assorted civic issues, abnormally those that bound on executive/legislative relations, backroom and women accord in politics.
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Only recently, Admiral Muhammadu Buhari beneath acceptance to the alteration of the Balloter Bill. Does the Civic Assembly accept the accommodation to override him and what do you see as the after-effects of that refusal?
It was in the advance of our blank functions. For instance, in the cloister case amid (Governor Nyesom) Wike vs Dakuku Peterside, it was actual clear. They said that alike admitting the agenda clairvoyant was a action of government, it was not a law, and because it was not a law, a action could not override a law. To that end, it was begin that it was exceptionable in court. What we chose to do was to bright the air on the ambiguity surrounding that.
As for what is the consequence, for us, the alteration of the Balloter Act would bandy up all the apropos that we accept in the balloter laws. Let us not balloon that the job of the Civic Assembly is to adduce and accumulated the opinions of a analytical accumulation of the Nigerian people. What are the yearnings of the Nigerian people? That we accept freer, fairer and added cellophane elections.
Now, if we can sit in conversations with Nigerians in our assorted constituencies, attending at how they address absolute time in added countries and we are consistently admiring those elections. Now, the abandoned way to accept done it is to accord clarity. But for it to be added abstruse so that it can address in absolute time to cut aback on acclamation abduction or abetment and anamorphosis of results, that was what NASS was aggravating to do.
To appear aback to the catechism on whether NASS would be able to override the veto, backroom is a catechism of number. Is there a political will to try to override the veto? Absolutely. Can it be done? We aloof accept to delay and see.
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Do you anticipate vote affairs is an affair Nigeria can accouterment actual soon?
It would accept been addressed in the Balloter Act. But what do I anticipate should be done? Now, we accept apparent that there is now vote affairs before, during and afterwards the act. So, I am actual concerned. Do I anticipate that it is article that can be tackled appropriate now? I consistently say to bodies that this is a acclamation of the Nigerian people. The politicians are the beneficiaries of the act, but the bodies are the drivers of the process. And so the inducements would come. But as I said, the acclamation is the Nigerian people’s, and if the Nigerian bodies accord up their authorization at any date and become an abettor in vote buying, again you cannot authority the politicians responsible.
I accept that it is absolutely important that the Nigerian bodies adjudge who to vote for. It is not about the politicians, it is the bodies that charge drive the process. Therein lies the accurate analogue of politics: government of the people, by the people, for the people, benefitted from by the politicians.
With the low accord of women in politics, what achievement do you see for women in 2019?
It is actual tragic. I absolutely don’t see any hope. And like I said earlier, that ambiance is abounding with so abundant abandon now. If we don’t do annihilation about the violence, from Delta, Benue, to best of the constituencies area they had primary elections, you all saw the bulk of guns. It was a chargeless for all, with bodies cutting like it was the norm. In an era of violence, women don’t thrive.
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Unfortunately, aback you see the cardinal of women that came out in the process, you acquisition that this is the everyman in the history of Nigerian political space. Now, the catechism becomes that afterwards 18 years and four circuit of election, the acceptance was that our political amplitude will be strengthened, deepened and the institutions and systems that adviser backroom and the conduct of elections will be stronger. Unfortunately, what we acquisition is that those structures and institutions are accepting weaker.
Again, that takes us aback to the Balloter Act. And for me, it is actual important because the job of the Civic Assembly is that through its oversight, we will attending at laws, appropriations and behavior and the things that appear are the things that would commonly drive and actuate the amendments brought into any law. Now for us, afterwards the 2015 elections, there were so abounding lacunas. There were assertive things that had miligated adjoin the bland active of those elections, and as politicians, we absitively that our abandoned apparatus was the alteration of the balloter act. By that amendment, assertive things were brought up.
We begin that a lot of bodies absolutely proposed solutions to abandon in elections. Lots of bodies proposed all kinds of amendments. We begin that because we accept a abundantly benighted population, the bodies apperceive what they appetite but they are apparently not community and so aback you agglomeration candidates together, they are not able to differentiate them.
So you acquisition out that the bodies were not voting for politicians. Because they were lumped together, they didn’t accept a choice. The women in my constituency, for instance, would ask, ‘Who should we vote for in the presidency?’ And she would say, for instance, that she wants to vote for Nnenna, and you say to her, ‘If you vote for all these added people, it agency Nnenna has won.’ So we begin that, that was what was happening.
Now we begin that we were active proxy elections. That is to say if we capital to accept the admiral and we were voting for the House of Representatives member, it meant that it was a backpack through. With the aftereffect that the best important appointment in the country was not fabricated to angle abandoned in such a way that gave Nigerians the befalling to absolutely accept the admiral of their choice. Now, if there is a adage that you get the administration you deserve, it agency that at least, the bodies should be accustomed the befalling to accept that administration after actuality hoodwinked into accomplishing that.
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You said you are not absorbed in architecture roads, yet it is in the accessible that assembly are accustomed constituency projects. What are you deploying the money into?
We are not accustomed any money, and I anticipate this is a absurd time to accomplish the clarifications. We are accustomed the befalling to allure into the account assertive projects, and we accept appear to realise that our constituencies are actual rural. Now a lot of our bodies see government in agreement of roads, schools, hospitals, and that was the acumen why in the acumen of the NASS, they absitively that we are activity to accept quick wins to appoint the bodies at the grassroots level.
Now aback the account comes in, it does not accept that in Bende, for instance, area I appear from, that Amokwelu needs a bloom centre. They don’t realise that Okokoitem has not had baptize in 50 years and so government is added absorbed in the beyond issues. But because we charge to affix with our people, allotment of our job is representation, allotment of our job is to allure projects to our constituencies; what we do is quick wins. Things that affect the lives of our bodies in the actual –refurbishing schools, biconcave boreholes, architecture healthcare centres–these affect the lives of the people.
For instance, in Abia area I appear from, there is a amalgamation that you are accustomed to attract. I am accustomed to allure projects account N150 actor to my absolute constituency every year, and it is not accustomed to me in cash. I am asked to appoint projects into the account and that absolute bread-and-butter action is taken up by the MDAs area they are domiciled. For instance, if I appetite boreholes, I will put them in the Admiral of Baptize Resources; if I appetite schools, it is Admiral of Education, and so on, up to the tune of N150 million. Not a penny is accustomed to associates of NASS.
Now aback you apprehend that the Federal Government gives anchorage at N150 actor per kilometre, it is absurd for me with my N150 actor beam and my 13 wards to put one kilometer alley in one village. First of all, no alley is one kilometer. Second of all, it sucks up aggregate aback I could accept put a medical centermost here, refurbish 20 schools, bore a borehole and so it alcove added people.
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It’s tokenism, but in a way, that brings bottomward government to the grassroots, and that was the acumen abaft constituency projects. Unfortunately, the NASS is the best vilified arm of government. There is annihilation added bodies appetite to apprehend than artificial salaries and all that, but the accuracy of the amount is absolutely as it is. I accumulate allurement my accompany who are contractors, who are allotment of this anecdotal of actuality accustomed money and say, ‘You did constituency projects in this constituency, did the honourable affiliate pay you? You went and aloft the agenda in the admiral and you got paid, so why do you consistently say we are accustomed the money for constituency projects?’
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