Honourable Hakeem Abiodun Muniru is a member of the House of Representatives for Oshodi-Isolo Federal Constituency 2. In this interview with journalists among whom is thegazellenews.com‘s JUMU’AH ABIODUN DAWUD, he speaks on various national issues particularly the recent governorship election in Osun State. Excerpts:
For record purpose, can we know you please?
My name is Hakeem Abiodun Muniru, representing Oshodi-Isolo Federal Constituency II in the House of Representatives. I was born and bred in Isolo, Lagos State.
The 2015 general election appears to be a direct confrontation between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and your party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). How do you think it will go between your party and PDP in 2015?
Well, thank you, this is a very big question, a big question in terms of contest; you look at it from micro and macro perspective. When I say micro, I mean my immediate environment, my constituency, my state. At the macro level, then we refer to the centre. I think I just want to narrow it down to the fact that we are hoping for the best in spite of the little challenges we are facing now.
You can see that after the National Convention, the leadership of the party has taken up the reconciliation process and I don’t have any doubt in my mind that we are going to get better and we will provide the needed and desirous positive change Nigerians need and are yearning for.
With the little challenges you spoke about, do you have the confidence that your party can win the 2015 general election?
APC stands a very good chance of winning the election and of coming out victorious, particularly when you look at how this party has emerged. You are a living witness to the euphoria that greeted the merging of the parties that metamorphosed into this great mega party. Imagine the euphoria that witness the day the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) registered this party! Imagine the hope and happiness displayed by Nigerians across the country who came out to jubilate! It shows that Nigerians really trust and have hope in this great party.
Nigerians see APC as their hope for a better and prosperous country, they see the party as the vehicle to take the country to the promised land. Nigerians are convinced that the party which will take them out of ignorant, maladministration, hunger, insecurity and social retrogression is here.
Therefore, with the kind of support we are getting from the people all over Nigeria, we are very optimistic that we will triumph in the 2015 general election.
In your opinion, what do you believe are the issues that will shape the 2015 general elections?
Naturally, our party has its own constitution and we are displaying our road map for Nigerians to see why we think we deserve to be controlling the centre and why we can do things differently. I must have to tell you, however, that with what I have seen and experienced so far, security will be the main issue that will shape the trend of the 2015 election.
The primary aim of government is securing the lives and properties of its citizens and in Nigeria, we are facing real security challenges. Don’t let anybody lie to you because we are in a state of war, the insurgent has virtually taken over the northeast part of the country while the country’s armed forces are just struggling to make an impact. So the major issue that will shape the 2015 election will be security.
Now, the first move should be, and I know that our party has been shouting and hammering on, is that we have to restore law and other back to the country. We have to bring confidence back to our society. So improving the security of lives and properties of the citizens and curbing insurgency in the country should come as priority before others such as: economy, agriculture, education, infrastructure and health care delivery will all fall in.
So for me, we have to address the issue of security such as: curtailing activities of terrorists particularly the Boko Haram insurgency; rescuing the Chibok girls; putting a stop to all forms of kidnapping; and curtailing violent crimes in the country.
All these will put in place an enabling environment for other sectors of the economy to grow and thrive.
Some prophets of doom have predicted that Nigeria will disintegrate in 2015, the onus lies on us not to allow the prophecy to pass. So when we address the issue of security, other issues will naturally fall in and the country will be the better for it.
Nigeria is facing real security challenges and we have never had it so bad and I know that the Nigerian people will take the issue of security of lives and properties as an important campaign issue in 2015.
Why do you think we are in this present situation?
Wow! A combination of factors: leadership failure, followership inconsistency, corruption, ignorance, illiteracy and so many other factors get us to where we are but substantially we could just break it into these major factors: illiteracy and ignorance. Either way you look at it education is important and a key factor, be it Islamic or western education, when people lack either or both they are in darkness.
This is not the first time we are having Almajiris in the country, but what effort have you made to improve the system. In fact, the system has deteriorated and the result of this deterioration is the crisis we are having now.
I schooled in Sokoto and I know that the Almajiri system has always existed but the question is what has successive governments done to improve the lives of the people. If things have been done properly: protecting the lives and properties of the people, protect their interest and fundamental rights, provide them with food and shelter and give them education, the crisis we are having now would have been nipped in the bud.
Over 200 school girls were abducted in a government school in Chibok over four months ago and up till now, they have not been rescued. As a member of the House of Representatives Committee on Police Affairs, what is your take on this?
The abduction was a failure on the part of the government. The response time was slow. Initially, we didn’t even believe they kidnap the girls, when I say ‘we’, I’m not referring to myself or my party. What I mean is that the government didn’t even believe that the girls were kidnapped. So our response time was slow which gave the Boko Haram teerrorists all the time in the world to plan, distribute and ship the girls. So by the time we are responding, we have already lost it. A government that should be proactive now becomes a reactive one.
Where they call Sambisa forest today is a verse land that other people inhabit. Are you saying that nobody saw them on their way to Chibok? And nobody saw them on the way back? Nobody could say ‘oh I saw a group of people going this way’.
Instead of acting decisively, our government was sleeping saying the girl were never kidnapped. When the government finally woke up from its slumber, it turned a serious matter into a politics blaming the opposition for the abduction.
Are you surprised? Well I’m not because a day after Boko Haram attacked a secondary school, our President put on his Agbada and went to a campaign rally, dancing Azonto music in the name of receiving defectors into the PDP.
Just imagine if the President’s children were among those kidnapped, will he still go to a campaign rally dancing? Definitely not, but these are the kind of people ruling us, I’m not really surprised. The basic issue here is that our leaders, quite unfortunately, have not given their best as leaders. They are just playing to the gallery.
But the President has made a move to tackle insurgency by approaching the National Assembly for more fund, what are you doing to aid the President to tackle insurgency?
That’s a good question! Aid the President again by approving another $1billion to fight insurgency?
The combined armed forces: police, military, air force and navy; all of them got over N900 billion in the 2014 budget yet they have not reduced insurgency. That is almost a trillion naira. Let them come and explain what they have done with the one we have approved for them and also explain in details what they want to do with the one they are seeking now.
Looking at it critically, why are they even bringing this request now? Very soon, they will bring the budgetary proposal for next year, so why are they bringing this one? It looks very suspicious. Demanding for US$1 billion very close to an election?
Is it not a decoy request for money to oil the PDP’s campaign machinery in 2015? It is suspicious and we willi definitely take a stand on it at our own caucus. We will review the matter and take a stand on it.
There various reports in the newspapers that the House of Representatives is facing cash crunch, how is this affecting your performance and budget implementation?
Well, I saw it in papers too and I feel very embarrassed. All of us are facing the cash crunch – the Senators, Reps. members and everybody who draws salary from the National Assembly. So, it is not limited to Reps members alone. The simple reason is that statutory allocation to the National Assembly has not been paid. It has been delayed so it is affecting everybody in the National Assembly not only the Reps members as being insinuated by the media reports.
And it is this part of the impunity we are talking about. The money has not been released by the Ministry of Finance which is an aberration. After money has been appropriated and approved, it behoves on the government to give each MDAs its allocation, but here in Nigeria, we are still subjected to the whims and caprices of the Ministry of Finance. So, it is the Ministry of Finance delaying allocation of money to the various MDAs and this has affected the National Assembly. It is not only the Reps members facing cash crunch, all of us in the National Assembly are experiencing it.
On a final note, what is your reaction to the victory of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola at the Osun governorship poll?
Highly delighted and we thank God that in spite of the Federal Government’s decision to use all the arsenal at its disposal to claim Osun State for the PDP, God says No! The people of Osun say No!
It is a victory for democracy. It is victory of light over darkness. It is victory of the people’s will over the brute force of government. It is victory of a performing man over a man not known for any notable achievement. It is victory of a man of the people over another loathed by the people. We thank God and we thank the people of Osun State for standing firm in the face of the intimidating security arsenal deployed to gag them.
The people of Osun not only displayed their love for Aregbesola but they were also determined to stand by him no matter the intimidation.