Sen Muhammad Ibrahim Kirikasama represented Jigawa North East in the National Assembly from 1999 to 2007. In this interview with JULIET OYOYO, he expressed his opinion on a lot of burning issues in the polity. Excerpts:
It has been observed that most of the people clamouring for the positions of Deputy Senate President and also the Deputy Speakership positions in the ninth National Assembly are all from the Northwest region of the country. Why is this so?
As you know, under normal circumstances, it is the party that distributes positions in the National Assembly but it is not going to be possible for the same party to zone the positions of the Deputy Senate President and that of the Deputy Speaker, to one single zone. It is not going to be possible.
But, as we all know, as human beings, we are very ambitious. We always look for something even if it is not going to be possible. So, unless and until it has come to conclusion, we can hardly understand what is going to happen. But in a normal circumstances and all we believe is that there will never be, a Deputy Speaker and a Deputy Senate President from one single zone.
You said “under normal circumstances”; is it proper for the party to interfere?
Absolutely! It is right because, everybody comes through the party. It is like your son and daughter in your own house with your husband; who is in-charge of the house? So, if somebody wants to marry your daughter, is it you that they will come to see or your husband who is the father of your daughter? That is how it is. Without the party, there is no senator or member of the House of Reps. And, if you go to an election, it is the party the people are electing and not you as an individual as you are just a representative of the party. Do you understand?
Will this not make the party present a person that is not majorly acceptable and not popular? Such, it is said, could bring about the developments that saw to the emergence of the present leadership in both chambers of the 8thAssembly?.
If somebody wants to marry your daughter and the father says something, is that interference? It is the party who knows who will make a better deputy speaker or deputy senate president as it knows every one of them.
The developments that brought about the leadership of the 8th Assembly was a planned issue. We know what happened. That was not a normal happening. Recall that the party had invited most of the members to come and discuss at the party’s secretariat and then, these people with the PDP due to their substantial numbers, connived with the PDP in the National Assembly and did what they did, during the Bukola Saraki issue.
There are a lot of insecurity issues and the President has given a directive that “All illegal miners should leave as he would revoke their licenses”, is it not contradictory considering the words; “illegal Miners and revocation of licenses”?
Have you ever being given a land to build a house? Do you then have a relative or friend who has ever being given a land for such? If that person is legally, given a plot by the government and if some important issues pertaining to the public interest, arises, do you also know that the government can revoke that land which was given legally for the public interest?
I want us to get this clearly. The government referred to these people as “Illegal” which simply means; they are not supposed to have licenses. How do you “revoke a license approved already from an illegal miner”?
That was a contradiction. There are some legal miners while also, there are some persons who are mining illegally. Until you go to the area or, you go deep to know what is happening there; forget about what you read in the social media, you cannot understand what exactly is happening there. The actual fact is that there are some people with permits for the mining while there are some who are mining illegally there.
With so much activities being reported there as it relates to exploitation of the nation’s natural resources which is in abundance, where does the accrued funds go to? Are these accruals not supposed to be sent to the Federation Account so that every Nigerian benefits from it?
Let me ask you a question in return. Do you know how federal revenue is distributed or divided to states and local governments? Do you know the sources of these revenues?
We have other resources that generate revenue to this country apart from oil and there are some which are almost at par with oil in terms of revenue generation to the country which you may not know. It is not only oil that gives the country revenue.
Go to the origin of mineral resources in Nigeria, it’s there you can understand. Get a copy of the Constitution and read the laws and acts there, you will see a lot and understand who is the owner of the mineral resources placed all over Nigeria. It is the Federal Government that is in charge and not the Niger Delta area. That oil could be in the North-east, North-central or North-west and any other region of the country. No region owns any mineral resource in the country apart from the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The media should undertake to enlighten the less educated as it concerns ownership of the resources of the country. If a license is given to any individual or corporate organization to mine these natural resources, it is expected that you pay for the license and also, pay royalty to government for every mineral resources you mine which is also, a part of the revenue that the government is distributing to states and local governments, every thirty days.
The insecurity situation in the North-west has assumed an alarming dimension. As one of the stakeholders what are people like you doing, away from government to see how this is addressed or tackled?
Are the ordinary people in the Niger Delta involved in the fight against oil bunkerers?
The issues are quite different here. We are talking about insecurity which is daily claiming lives of innocent persons and is affecting everybody here in the region.
Who is in charge of the issue of security in the country; is it you and me who do not have access to rifles or guns or an aircraft that can fight the insurgents? All we can do is to advise people through the radio. But, you cannot do anything more than this. It is the military who have the force and firepower to fight the insurgents and make the areas free for everybody to live peacefully.
My question stems from the fact that the Honourable Minister for Defence had alleged that it is the traditional rulers that aid and abet these criminalities. What is your take on that?
That is suspicion. I will not argue with you on that because, for an interested people, you cannot answer or believe them and some people can do anything or something you do not expect because of money. I cannot argue if somebody said it or not but I actually agree with you. I equally heard this same comment that some traditional rulers and some persons with vested interests have interest in what is happening.