Senator Ahmed Ogembe represents Kogi Central Senatorial District of Kogi State. Although , he was elected on the platform of the PDP, he is concerned about the crisis between Governor Yahaya Bello and Senator Dino Melaye, both of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC). In this interview with Atabor Julius, our correspondent in Lokoja, the Senator bares his mind on the crisis which he said has made caricature of the state.
Recently Senator Dino Melaye canvassed for state of emergency in Kogi State, while his constituency were collating signatures for his recall, what is your stand on Governor Yahaya Bello and Sen Dino Melaye’s feud?
You need to understand the workings of the Senate. Senator Dino Melaye raised a point of order and it was under Order 43 which is a personal explanation. Senator Dino gave an account of the ugly incident in which he was attacked while on a visit to his constituency and it was only the Senate President that ruled or commented afterwards under order 43. The duo were very close friends before and I believe they will find a way to solve their problem. I hope they close ranks in the interest of the state; for no meaningful development can thrive in an atmosphere of acrimony. I have spoken to Senator Dino privately to come to a resolution on all his issues with Governor Bello in the interest of all Kogites but you should also be aware that the issues at stake are largely internal problems of the All Progressive Congress in which I wouldn’t want to be an interloper in their affairs. I feel very strongly that their party, the APC, and their leaders have vital roles to play to bring the crisis to an end. On my part I will continue to advise them. They should rather jaw jaw rather than to war war to allow good reasons to prevail.
The 2017 budget has just been assented to, what is there for your constituents?
I have been able to influence the inclusion of projects for my senatorial district in the 2017 budget. I will continue to monitor its implementation and execution of the projects. We will benefit immensely from the implementation of the 2017 budget. In specific terms I was instrumental to the inclusion of the provision of transformers to improve electricity in my constituency; water projects, construction of a pedestrian bridge in Adavi LGA, sporting equipment for secondary schools, equipping of general hospitals in Okene and Adogo, construction of Model Junior school buildings, rehabilitation of federal highways; a lot of youth and women Empowerment programmes and many other intervention projects. With all these I am sure that my people will be better for it.
The issue of salary payment has been a nightmare for pensioners and civil servants in Kogi State. What is your take on this?
We are all aware of the recession which has engulfed our nation for some time now and allocations to states which has also dwindled. We are also aware that successive administrations in the State have also shown serious concern over the wage bill. They equally embarked on several screening exercise to authenticate the actual number of civil servants on the state government’s payroll but this has largely been unsuccessful. I am also aware that the recently ended screening exercise embarked upon by the present administration of Alhaji Yahaya Bello came with a lot of hardship, but I am sure that at the end of the whole thing salaries will be normalised. I have heard the Governor saying on several occasions that no genuine worker will be shortchanged or victimised. My advice is that those who have genuine cases, he should use every administrative procedure to get it rectified. I am also using this medium to call on the state government to expedite action to normalise salary payment in the state. Happily, I understand that the verification exercise has been concluded.
What are your plans for 2017 session of the Senate?
Like I said, as a legislator, I will continue to ensure that my impact is felt through sponsoring of bills and motions that have direct bearing on my people. You are aware that I moved the motion on compulsory insurance which has been implemented especially in the motor insurance scheme across the country. I also have Mandatory Hemoglobin Test bill, which will revolutionize the health sector for good and curb the sickle cell menace, this bill is slated for second reading.
I will also through lobbying, influence implementation of projects for my constituents. I have carried out some empowerment programmes for women and youths across the five Local government Areas which makes up my senatorial district. I hope to sustain the tempo until majority of our people become self-reliant. I am also working with relevant agencies to curb insecurity in my area. I have the firm believe that if the people are empowered positively particularly the youths, the level of crime will be reduced drastically. I will continue to do my very best in this direction.
Another thing that is very dear to my heart is the completion of the Ajaokuta Steel company and the National Iron Ore Mining Company. On assumption of office I set up a committee to articulate our position. I am pursuing it very vigorously and doing a lot of lobby and advocacy. I also commend and appreciate some good spirited individuals and interest groups, host communities and stakeholders for their immense contribution to the realization of the project.
I have spoken to Senator Dino privately to come to a resolution on all his issues with Governor Bello in the interest of all Kogites but you should also be aware that the issues at stake are largely internal problems of the All Progressive Congress in which I wouldn’t want to be an interloper in their affairs. I feel very strongly that their party, the APC, and their leaders have vital roles to play to bring the crisis to an end