From Isaac Anumihe Abuja
Dr Timothy Golu was the former Chief Whip of Plateau State House of Assembly (2011-2015) and former Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Budget and Research (2015-2019).
Golu represented the Kanke Constituency of Plateau State in the 8th National Assembly.
In this interview, the former legislator touched on so many sensitive national issues, including the alleged succession bid of President Muhammadu Buhari, Igbo presidency and the leadership of the present National Assembly. Excerpts:
Will President Buhari succeed himself?
It is not possible. We have a constitution that allows two terms of eight years and by 2023 Buhari would have exhausted that. The way things are going, he might be thinking of a third term agenda. If anybody accuses him of that I will not defend him. He wants a third term, but it is not going to be possible. It didn’t succeed under a vibrant Olusegun Obasanjo administration. So, it is not now.
Is Igbo presidency possible?
Yes. I personally support Igbo presidency. Are the Igbo not part of Nigeria? Igbo people are the most industrious people in Nigeria. If an Igbo man becomes the president today, the industrial spirit, the mental capacity of an Igbo man will go round. People are learning from the Igbo people. Igbo people are our own ‘oyibos’. They are the foreign initiatives of Nigeria. There are many things other tribes have not discovered, but Igbo people have discovered it.
How is it possible?
Yes, it is possible. The Igbo should organise themselves. Nobody gives power. You don’t sit down and begin to ask that they give you power. They have to organise themselves and go for it. Nobody sits down and gets power. When Obasanjo was seeking for power in his first term he went to many places before people rallied round him. But he had to move round and mobilise support. They did not go to prison to look for him. Nobody knew that he was in the prison. Somebody identified him. They brought him. They cleaned him up even though some people did not like him. But people mandated him. So, it is the same thing. The Igbo people should not sit down and think that because of the potentials they have they will just be asked to come and preside over the country. No. They have to develop a conscious political spirit. Charity will begin at home to show people that they are capable of doing this thing.
There is fear that Igbo presidency will facilitate breakaway?
That is a theory. There is no such fear. It is not practicable because you cannot force the rest of the country to belong.
Are you satisfied with the performance of the 9th National Assembly?
No.I am disappointed with the present leadership of the National Assembly. Most members of the present National Assembly are patriotic, full of energy and ready to do the work, but the leadership has demoralised their spirit. Both the Senate President and the Speaker have become rubber stamps. I am disappointed in both of them. They are the longest-serving legislators in the country and yet nothing to show. They were vibrant in their days as opposition leaders in the assembly, but are now more interested in keeping their political relevance and offices than standing for the interest of the nation. This is obviously because they were imposed on Nigerians so they have become lame ducks. They have become incapacitated because of selfishness and greed. When Dogara was there he was prepared to impress the nation rather than impressing the executive arm of the government. When Saraki was there he would prefer to impress the nation rather than impressing the president. It’s clear that patriotic and hardworking members of the National Assembly are not happy because some of them want to work, but the leadership is slowing them down. The leadership of the legislature is a rubber stamp and that has dampened the morale of the legislators that are ready to do the work. Leadership is like a driver. If the driver doesn’t take you to your destination you cannot do what you want to do. The leadership of the legislature is not active. Because they were imposed on the nation, they can’t respect the principle of separation of powers and checks and balances. The executive has muzzled the legislature.
Was that why Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe was shut down for calling for the resignation of President Buhari?
Saraki and Dogara will never shut down any member of the opposition because they believed that this is democracy and a member is a representative of the people. As a representative of the people you are speaking the mind of your people.
But this one (Senator Ahmad Lawan) introduced partisanship and shamelessly shutting down his colleague. All senators are equal. The senate president and speaker are only headboys.
Will there be APC after Buhari?
Everything about this APC is like witchcraft . We don’t know who is doing what. The government has failed woefully. We don’t know whether it is the personal failure of the President or the failure of the people around him. It is when he leaves that everything will be clear. If it is clear that he is the one causing the problem then it means that the party can move on at its own level, but if it is discovered that it is the people surrounding him then definitely the party will collapse. But I believe it’s a combination of all. That’s why I see it as witchcraft.
Can the tensed security situation scuttle the 2023 elections?
The APC is allowing the ongoing insecurity so as to create a cloudy situation that will assist them rig the polls, but God Almighty will spring a surprise for them. God has given them a very long rope and they have since squandered their goodwill. The people are ready to defend themselves more than ever before. We cannot continue like this. People are dying everyday and yet nothing or just little is being done.
Are you coming out again and if yes, for what position?
I am still full of political passion, political energy. I am still full of zeal and patriotism to do many things that I needed to do for my community. I am waiting. At the right time I will declare my ambition. But for now I want to keep it to myself. I am prayerfully consulting and keeping it to myself.
Achievements in both state and national assemblies?
My area is a local area and one of the most disadvantaged areas. But I was able to improve the local content of my community, educationally, health-wise, infrastructurally. That’s provisions of road, water. There was no electrification in my area. I electrified my area. I used my contacts as a journalist of national status to compliment my political determination. . My last beat was the Villa. So, I was able to use that to get jobs for my people. Any time there was recruitment I would go and meet those contacts. I provided a lot of things for our people. At the state house of assembly level I was able to provide jobs for close to 50 people. I was able to provide the state rural roads. There was something in the state government. They called it the Community and Social Development Agency, it is an arrangement for projects by the World Bank in conjunction with the federal and state governments. The person will only pay 10 per cent of the total cost of the project. When I saw it I thought it was a joke. I went to the bank and borrowed N3 million and I was able to attract a project of N30 million with N3 million. After I had completed my projects, the World Bank and the state government decided to take away their attention from Plateau State. Later, some communities were not able to honour their commitments. People collected the money and they could not do the job. So, the government relaxed. But before then I had already taken advantage of it. At the federal level I had the experience of the legislature. I was made the chairman of a committee on legislative budget and research. We were supposed to provide a framework for every budgeting item before handing over the work of appropriation to the committee on appropriation. Our responsibility was to establish the national assembly budget and research officer, an agency of the National Assembly, which is equivalent of the Ministry of Budget and National Planning for the executive.