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Jubril Aminu Speaks. . .a Very Interesting Piece! by violent(m): 1:15pm On Dec 05, 2010
Former Nigerian ambassador to the United States Jubril Aminu speaks on the controversial electoral bill, Sanusi's tangle with the legislature and consensus candidacy. Excerpt:

Assessment of the legislature

When you are going to judge an institution, you cannot do so from the point of view of a short term. If you allow me, I will say there is an improvement. This National Assembly could have become the centre of serious ethnic and geographical strife in this country, particularly politicians helped and engineered the media. It is possible for the place to become very sharply divided, to the extent that it ceases to be an agent for national unity. But they are doing well.

From 1999 to 2003, I will say we had only one challenge; which was the impeachment of the President. But from 2003 to 2007, we had the challenge of the third term. The president wanted a third term, but the national Assembly stopped it. I like Obasanjo, so I did not like it at that time. But when you look at the decision, it was in the interest of the country. Then we had the unfortunate sickness and untimely death of President Umaru Yar’Adua and the ascension of Goodluck Jonathan. That was also a very challenging time for the country. Again, it was the National Assembly, which people always abuse, that rose to the challenge to provide the solution, thereby saving the country from another crisis. So, we have a National Assembly that people abuse any way they like, but when it turns out that we have real critical issues, people turn round to them. So far, we have solved most of these issues. I am not saying we have solved everything. But we have solved most of them.

Concerns over the remuneration of lawmakers

Who are the Nigerians that are worried? It is you media people who are worried. I can take you to my village in Song, you will see that they are not worried. So, people should stop this nonsense of talking about allowances and how much the members are getting. This is moreso because when you investigate, it is not true.

People are not able to look at the big picture. They only look at the small thing, sensationalize it and use it to abuse very credible and highly responsible Nigerians just because they are lawmakers. Four million naira a month is nonsense. You see, since I said it in the Senate, I will repeat myself here. There is a war against the legislature by interested people; principally, governors. And they have corralled a lot of troops from media people, political commentators and others to fight us. In doing this, they use all sorts of names on us. Where do we have this kind of money? Do we print money? Is the treasury in the National Assembly? How could the National Assembly have so much access to money? Every kobo we spend in the National Assembly comes from the Executive. They talk as if we have got some kind of machine guns and we go round taking government money. How do we do it? Can anyone tell us?

Conflict with executive officers

The ministers have a lot more access to money than we have. The governors too. This is just a war against members of the national assembly which is very well known to all Nigerians. Recently, it was intensified in the form of electoral bill where we felt that in amending the Constitution, we cannot amend the law for one person or against one person. We do not even make a law for one moment. We argue and argue before we make a law. It is not fair for the Executive to have freedom to bring into congress people who are their own loyalists. Can an Ambassador ever vote against the President? We had a case of one governor in 2003, two days before the convention, he appointed 65 Special Advisers and Special Assistants and put them all as delegates to the convention simply because he wanted to control the votes. And we said this time around, we cannot have such. Yet, whatever case we make, you refuse to print it in the papers. The composition of the National Executive Committee of the parties, we were forced to find a way of counter-balancing the excessive powers of the governors. All the parties fund themselves from the government they control.

They refuse to collect money from their members, which is what happens in advanced democracies. Since the money is from the government, those who have the money control the party and obviously have more power. So because the financial control is so loose, people who are in charge of money can take the money out and use it for their purpose.

That was why we said since the party apparatchik are under the control of the governors, it is only the legislature that is a little bit independent. The party Chairman sits in front of the Governor and they compile the names of the delegates and bring it. Even now, in a lot of states, they have already nominated the names of the delegates to the party primaries.

That was why we did what we did. People are now finding ways to fight us. I hear that some people have budgeted about N200m to fight our electoral law. Let them go ahead. Normally, we should get the support of the media and the people, but we do not.

Criticism of legislative oversight

If I have any criticism about visitation, it is that the amount of time we are able to spend on one visitation is too small. I always tell them, for instance, how do you spend one hour on a visitation to a University. What will you be able to see? The National Assembly knows that these contracts are not being executed.

We come from villages, where these roads are said to be built. For about three years now, we were told that contract for the Song to Maiduguri road was awarded; but up till now nothing has been done. They tell you they have no money. Sometimes they will say they have no executive capacity. There was one time when it looked like controlling capital expenditure was like controlling the economy or managing the economy.

Sanusi’s stance on the expenditure of the National Assembly

Sanusi (the Governor of the Central Bank) is a very principled person and he is very logical. Do you know the implication of apologizing, you are tying yourself. He felt he was using information given to him supposedly by a competent government source in the ministry of finance.

You cannot crucify him for using information from a competent source of government. The only thing wrong with his comment is to go and discuss it at an international event, outside the country. But then in this country, we have not developed the ethics that, whether you are in opposition or government, you must not talk badly about your country to outsiders. Our people always do that. So you cannot single out Sanusi on that one.

Northern consensus candidate

There is a danger in over blowing the importance of the exercise and there is also a danger in under rating it. You should not over rate it because this is just, in my view, a private arrangement more or less made by four or five individuals.

This did not involve any party; it did not involve any cultural or religious organization. We should, therefore, look at it as a private arrangement. They have their right to do so. So far they have been able to keep their agreement and have respected it. That is why it should not be underrated. The electoral importance of what they have done is directly proportionate to each person’s reach. If you have somebody who enjoys and continues to enjoy a large following, others will join.

Political plan for 2011

I do not consider myself a career legislator. When I went to the United States of America as an ambassador, I was already 60 years of age and by the time I came back in 2003, I was already 64. I told them then that I do not also consider myself a career diplomat. I will not do anything that I do not enjoy.

So I am still consulting my Oracles. The Fulani Oracles are very slow in responding. I still have a couple of weeks to make up my mind. From the point of view of enjoying the pressure of doing the job, I think I like it.
Re: Jubril Aminu Speaks. . .a Very Interesting Piece! by Tsiya(m): 1:52pm On Dec 05, 2010
Ok Im from Adamawa, from Aminu's constituency.

He doesn't even come home let alone listen to us. Useless old fool. We re tired of you excessive

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