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My Agenda is to Tackle Un-employment-Orker-Jev

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Senator Emmanuel Yisa Orker-Jev,
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Senator Emmanuel Yisa Orker-Jev, served for 12 years as a member of the House of Representatives for Buruku Federal Constituency, Benue State. Among other positions, Orker-Jev, erudite Lawyer, public affairs commentator was Chairman of the House Committee on Business and Rules, a position that made him a central figure in the affairs of the 8th House of Representatives as far as legislative business was concerned.

In the 2019 general elections, Orker-Jev did the unusual.  He left the All Profressives Congress(APC), crossed over to the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) and locked horns with his erstwhile political leader, Senator George Akume in a titanic political battle that saw him emerge victorious to represent Benue Nort-West Senatorial District. In this interview with Gabriel Atumeyi and Mirian Gom, the eloquent Senator speaks about his victory at the polls, his legislative agenda and other vexed issues in the polity.
Excerpts.

What is your take on the outcome of the 2019 general elections?

Generally, I would always try to be very careful about the issue of elections

I was a participant and was in my village, in the field. 

Well, I can say that as far as my constituency and  Benue State at large,   the elections were generally free and fair.

It was after the elections, as my result was declared that I started reading else where some forms of manipulations and other forms of untoward processes. 

Although the matter is in the tribunal, I rather wait for what the tribunal would say.  As a lawyer, whatever happens, it is the interpretation of what happened and would be taken as a final say of the matter.

What was responsible for you defeating Senator Akume in the general election ?

You see election is submitting yourself to the people, they take the decision on you. 

I have been winning elections before and  I also lose election, so it can’t be that because you won several elections so you must always be winning.

Election is like a referendum on your representation. If you were elected to represent. So it gets to a point when the people would say please another person  should  come and represent us. 

I look at it that way, just because he was a governor for 8 years and a senator for 12 years doesn’t mean he would not one day leave the seat for another person and so he left it for me as the people preferred me this time around.

When the INEC declared you winner, what was on your mind, how did you feel?

Don’t take me as an arrogant person if I tell you I always knew I was going to win this election. 

I tell people that if I would have come out against Akume in 2011, I would have probably destroyed my career because he was at the peak of his career, then same for 2015 but I watched the environment, you know I was his follower.  I watched the environment and saw at a point I was convinced with myself that he has outlived his usefulness as far as representation is concerned, that was when I made my move and since I made my move every thing on the ground told me I was going to win that election.

So I’m saying this with all sense of humility. 

So it was just a confirmation of what I thought would happen. 

But humanly speaking I was overwhelmed, it was as the days went by that the whole import of what happened sank into me, and I know also the Nigerian factor would also come in where you would win elections and someone else would be announced. And so when I won, you would notice that there were two days of back and forth, trying to get himself announced that was when the anxiety really set in but after the announcement I got myself that this is it. 

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What else gave you the confidence and what were the strategies you used to triumph?

It wasn’t an overnight thing, my coming out for the senate. To start with, it was my immediate constituents whom I represented for 12 years, who said look, you would have to go for the senate which was originally supposed to come from our place. 

But when he was seasoned out as a governor he went and took a loan from us and the people felt the 12 years of representation were not worth for them that was why they told me to go in for them.

If I would refuse I should forget about House of Representatives, but I didn’t take the decision because I knew Buruku is just one out of seven Local Government Areas in the Senatorial  and even if hundred per cent of Buruku voted for me I wasn’t going to become the next senator of the zone.

So I went underground and did my consultation across the remaining six local government areas and everywhere I went the only question mark was weather I would not chicken out if we support you, because they were afraid that since I had been a boy so to say to the man maybe when much pressure is mounted on me would chicken out.

When I convinced them all over that I wasn’t going to be so, I would not put a food forward and take it back again, I started having massive support.

So if there is anything like war chest, it was the confidence of the people that gave me a going forward and not war chest in monetary terms. 

It became a straight forward strategy at a point people were coming to me persuading me to go for the race and it became popular even before I made my intentions public. 

What is your vision as a senator representing Benue north – west senatorial district? 

Let me tell you what I do when I was representing Buruku at the house of representatives. I never went out even though my mission was to upgrade the standard of living of the people. 

You know Buruku is nearly hundred per cent a rural setting there is no town in the real sense of the word. 

There, my legislative agenda used to be youth and rural development. Along that we were able to attract those that would evaluate and upgrade the standard of living of the people. 

So, I never made promises when ever I was going out for an election. 

I always submitted myself to the community, visit to let them tell me what their problems are and put them in a paper form that when I go there I would know what to attract to them and not seat somewhere and assume this may be their priorities. 

You go to certain communities and assume they lack water and provide water for them they would be happy but would  say: if only you asked us, we would have preferred medical facilities here. 

So even at the larger environment, I still used the same tactics. A  month ago, I put together what we call ‘open assembly’ where members of the constituency and other resource persons were brought together to proffer solutions to each community’s priorities. But generally I’m not happy at the rate of unemployment we have in the State although we can’t give direct employment but can make policies that would affect employment. 

I’m not too happy that there are no industries but also believe that this mentality of I get out of school, I will get white – collar job needs also to be discouraged by asking the youth to look inwards.  Some are already creative, just a little push they would be employers of labour themselves. 

So these are the things I think if we partner with the governor, thank God for the first time since my 12 years in the house of representatives, I have a very good working relationship with the governor of the state.  Now we are working very well and also with my brother senators in the State, I believe things would be better than ever. 

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What are your views to resolve the lingering herders – farmer crisis in the state? 

Well this is not something that would be done through legislative intervention. In the last assembly as the chairman on the house committee of rules and business, I had a privilege of viewing four bills on ranching and open grazing, and also as a legal adviser of the house, I went through it and the extant laws and told them that considering the position of the legal framework of the land use act, we can’t seat in Abuja and enact a law that would cover the operation of lands across the country, because each land is in the custody of the governors of the respective states. 

So if we do a law here and the governor says no, I m not going to deliver any land for the said use, then the project would be useless. So as a result of that advise, all the bills were withdrawn and I gave an interview or was someone thinking alike or my state took up the the challenge and came up with the law providing for ranching in the state. Ekiti did same, Taraba did same. So the federal government can seat along with the governors and put their heads together but the solution would have to be local in each state of the federation. 

Like when the RUGA thing came, some states in the north rushed to the villa indicating their interest. However, some are not ready. So this is not something you can seat and give bracket policy that go and impose because it will not work as some states even if they are prepared,  that the land may not be there. Some states are heavily populated so the federal government even if they have good intentions, have not thought out well. 

It is not one of those things that can be done by the legislature because our hands are tied by the land use Act and it is such that it cannot be amended by the national assembly alone but requires the involvement of the states. 

So is not something you can just rush in because the national assembly has a majority, nobody is happy that you now have  thousands of people  in IDPs camps. Also, Benue state is known  as the food basket of the nation and has  its farmers in the IDPs camps, that doesn’t augur well for even as survival as a people. 

How do you see future of electioneering  in Nigeria? 

As the Chairman of  Business and Rules,  I was closely involved in and following what was going on the electoral amendment bill. At a point, it became very clear that for some reasons the President never wanted that bill to be signed before election. 

Because four times the bill was rejected and backed up with excuses that were not there in the first place. 

So in other bills, sometimes when they make corrections and came we took notice of the corrections and thought it would be signed but on this one, on each successive attempt, new things came up.   I told someone that its  like the president and his people don’t want the bill. 

That amendment was a product of intensive consultation with the public and experts who input their expertise and was seen as correction to our democracy. We believe that now that Mr. President has been declared the winner of the election, if the tribunal affirmed his victory, we are hoping that no such encumbrance again to avoid his signing. I think things would have been much better because now they are beginning to use the same thing which we tried prescribing for which are the reasons why certain things were not done. The beginning of a good government is the election that brought them into the office. If you were rigged into the office, who   for some reasons couldn’t be in the office but came in, you could be assured that the fidelity would not be to the people’s interest but to the interest of others than people. For me that is the basis of good governance. 

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Do you share the view that politicians are spending too much  amounts of money on elections? How do we reduce the use of money in our politics?

I share the view that politics is monetized. I know. I was thoroughly harassed during the election, I was asked to bring the money I have been making for the past 12 years in the House of Representatives and the money was not there. I told them if I have been keeping the money I would not have won elections because I’m the first to win elections in Buruku to have ever won any elections not even a councillor has repeated elections. I was the first to repeat any elections, because apart from the projects, I was solving little problems.If you come to me with a problem and and I see its genuine, there is no way I would ask you to go away or push you back. How can I be doing this and still be keeping money somewhere? So if its money it means you would not vote me as the senator, that was what I told them. 

But I would agree with you that the rate at which we have monetized our elections, I think is certainly not good for our politics because nobody that is spending  millions on elections is not a charity, he would be finding ways of getting back his money. 

Otherwise, while would somebody do that and so long as you would continue to have corruption because it should not be so. If someone is going for the state assembly and is spending millions, well, what did you expect to happen at the end of the day? I share in the view of some people who feel that  the whole thing is over monetized. The last amendment sought to take care of that but the problem is that how would you monitor that when even INEC is handicapped because even if the parties bring in their reports but would they be realistic? There are no ways of tracking money as some would have money under their pillows dishing out, how can it be tracked or how would INEC or political parties know how much you have spent on elections?

Is the fight against corruption working? 

Well I don’t know because a lot  of people have different views depending on who you ask, some say is selective, some say is not working at all. 

When president Buhari came in people became scared even before he took any step as a no nonsense person but once he came in, he started to look like there are certain things you do and get away it. For instance if you are in PDP and join APC your sins are forgiven to go and sin no more and so the smart ones started taking advantage and so it started to look very unserious of the fight and the steam was no longer there. 

Some people would argue that even if he was selective once one has done wrong he should be penalized not minding which party he belongs. 

Interviews

Next Plateau Governor must Epitomize Gomwalk – Tanko

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As political activities leading to the 2023 General Elections are on top gear in Plateau State, Honourable Sati Tanko, Special Adviser to Governor Simon Lalong in this Interview with Jude Dangwam gave a hint on the kind of a new governor the state needs come 2023. He expressed worry that the State falling into the hands of political godfathers

Plateau State has seen different qualities of governors.

What kind of Governor did you think the State needs come 2023?

Plateau State should be expecting a leader that will be tolerant, not fanatical about tribe or religion and must be a leader that will carry all the tribes in the state along. I said this because this idea of minority, majority dichotomy has always shown it’s ugly heads in the various leaderships we have had over the years as a state and it has not done us any good.
During the Chief Solomon Lar period when we were together with Nasarawa State, we didn’t see such division along tribes or religion, the dichotomy was about the Southern and Upper Plateau, there was no primodial sentiments as it is now.


Unfortunately, when Solomon Lar left power unceremoniously, because of the coup that toppled him, led by the current President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari.
Plateau State has been devastated by a lot of crises. We have lost a lot of properties; we have lost our senses; we have lost our unity; we have lost the umbilical code that bound us as a people. Why? Because tribalism has eaten deep into the fabric of our politics. Religion has eaten deep into the fabric of our politics. We have preferred primordial interest to state interest that will unit us and build our economy.
The kind of leadership I will want is a combination of all the leaders that we had. We must have a leader with the spirit of J.D Gomwalk. Why did I say so? It is because the leadership spirit of late Gomwalk was to go out there and get. It was a competitive spirit that struggled within the then 12 states of the Nigerian nation.
That is why he brought the now University of Jos; he brought Benue Plateau Radio; The Nigeria Standard Newspaper among others. Yhat was the spirit. Solomon Lar came and had the maturity of tolerating all the various tribes of the former Plateau, covering the present day Nasarawa State. 
Virtually everybody was contented. He was able to bring all the tribes through his programme of emancipation that he developed and he succeeded in emancipating all the downtrodden tribes of the Plateau. Those tribes that were suppressed by feudal lords were emancipated and that was maturity.
We had Ambassador Fidelis Tapgun whom I consider as a stateman in his own right. He was coming from the bureaucratic setting, as a Permanent Secretary who had worked with so many military governments in the country. So, he knew Plateau State inside out because he was a student of Solomon Lar and he was able to marry some of Lar’s programmes by building schools, and paying the SSCE registrations fees for students among other things in the larger Plateau State and people appreciated those programmes because of the poverty level at that time. 
It got to the time of Joshua Dariye who was coming from the economic background as an accountant. He came in with his welfarist package and there was no hunger in the land, lifting up the standard of living of the citizens and I think he did well. The building and commencement of academic activities at the State University Bokkos is a credit to him, an institution that has raised so many people today. 
When you talk of Baba Jonah David Jang, he is stubborn to some extent. Stubborn in the sense that he did not allow other factors make his thinking overlap. He remained focused on what he want to achieve. So those factors that wanted to not just pulled him down per say but to change his thinking saw him as a very stubborn leader.
Infact he is a man that came with a kind of programmes for Plateau people. But because of the forces that were and the insecurity that time, Baba Jang became a fighting bull with the Federal authority given the power that be at that time and they tagged him recalcitrant, but to the masses of Plateau State I think he did his best too because he was able to introduce a kind of nationalism that today you find it in the minds of natives of Plateau State.
Lalong came with his peace mantra and I think, to a greater extent he has succeeded because there are no more ‘No Go Areas’ as we had before now. Business and social night activities are going on now than it used to be. Although there are pocket of attacks in hinterlands but the Lalong administration has been able to stabilize the security situation within the Jos-Bukuru metropolis.
So, the kind of leader that I would want in 2023 is someone with the combination of all the attributes of these leaders that saw each playing his part in the best way he can. But above all, somebody that can bring us unity is important, somebody that can tolerate, somebody that can build infrastructures and bring out the best in our institutions in the way they function that’s the kind of leadership I desire.
I want a leader that will focus on peace, somebody who will address our education, the agriculture, somebody who will give the desired energy to our commerce by building our economy to make Plateau economically viable. We have always been considered as a civil servants state, so I want a leader that will come and change that narrative.

Across political parties, do you see such an ideal leader amongst the aspirants for the governorship seat come 2023 in Plateau State?

For the first time in the history of Plateau State, I can see from the array of aspirants both in the ruling party and the opposition parties who can bring this to bear. Because I can see that they have a very rich credentials, and to be fair to them, there is no one that can not govern Plateau State given their credentials. 

What are your fears in the whole politicking leading to the choice of the ideal leader come 2023 considering the arrays of aspirants?

My fears is about the money bags! We don’t want money bags to hijack our political system. Where people will plant surrogates and psychophants or cohorts, at the end of the day they will be answerable to their godfathers and not the people of Plateau State. That’s my fear about the kind of leadership that is emerging. I rather want a leader that will emerge from the true reflection and the aspiration of the people of Plateau State! 

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2023: NNPP Open to Merger Talks—Prof. Rufai Alkali

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As the political parties rush to beat the June 9 deadline to submit the names of their candidates for the 2023 general elections to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political analysts have been speaking on how to wrestle power from the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). There has been the call for some of the other parties to form an alliance going into that election.

In this interview, the Chairman of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Prof. Rufai Alkali says his party will be open for such alliance if the need be. He spoke to Politics Editor Jude Opara.

Excerpts:

When are we expecting your party, the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) to conduct its presidential primaries?

Thank you very much, in line with the guidelines of INEC and the Electoral Act and our own Constitution, the NNPP is doing everything is following everything systematically.

We have done the House of Assembly primaries as well as the House of Representatives primaries and we are now getting set for the senate, governorship and presidential primaries which is going to take place on June 8, 2022. We as a party are guided by the law, the constitution and all the essential ingredients required in the issue of primaries. We are aware that Nigerians are not happy, we are aware that Nigerians are disenchanted, and within most of the political parties, there is indeed a consensus that things should not be allowed to continue this way. There is also a consensus that the country is drifting and we should do everything humanly possible to bring back our country, rescue the nation and defend our people. Therefore we are methodically in what we are doing, we are not flippant and we are not taking Nigerians for granted.

Even during the sales of forms, we were mindful of the situation on ground in the country and we did not come out openly to tell Nigerians that leadership of the nation was for sale to the highest bidder. Whenever we talk about providing level playing field for political actors, we believe that the best way is to give everybody in the country the opportunity to participate, to be counted and to be relevant. This is our country and all of us will benefit if the country is in peace and stability and of course we will lose if the political in its recklessness, selfishness, divisiveness and that is what has put us in where we are today.

The leader of your party is possibly going to emerge as the flag bearer of your party because as it were, you have only one presidential aspirant in the party, now it’s very important to know that he comes from the North West, where is the next place that your party will be looking at to galvanize support for the party?

(Laughs) I am surprised at that question, why do you keep talking of someone coming from the North or the East or the West. If you look at the person coming, he is a Nigerian first and foremost and look at his antecedents, look at his backgrounds and that is also why we are making mistakes because we keep on looking at people at this regionalist and ethnic perspective, we keep on missing it, because as I said earlier, any part of this country, every community can produce leaders. If you look at the history of Nigerian leaders, there are those who emerged from very small communities and they made impact in this country, so what is important is that the NNPP is an all inclusive and open to everybody and in whatever we are doing, we ensure that everything is going to be balanced, everybody would e carried along, but certain strategic decisions we are going to take about who comes and who becomes what, when and how, is not a matter for now and not a matter for the media. But what we know for sure is that part of the reason people are angry is the sense of exclusiveness. This is what we are talking about, why should be people be excluded from the process. Anybody who feels he should stand for an election, should be allowed but ultimately, it is the collective will of the people that will decide who is going to be the leader of this country. But ours is to offer our best, someone who is going to be a unifying force for the country, somebody who will sustain the momentum for this national movement, to reinvent our country so that we cannot only, move forward but leap forward because sometimes when you have a big gully in front of you, you need to leap so that we pass what has become a huge threat to our system. This is not the country we inherited from our forefathers. Our problems are peculiar because they are self imposed, they are not coming from any foreign army but we are not at peace with ourselves. Who will want to invest his money in a place that is crisis prone? Nobody will ever do that. So we are dealing with critical issues and not to apportion blames of who is at fault or not, whatever happened, something has gone wrong and it is our duty to fix it.

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When the former governor of Anambra state resigned from the PDP, there were pictures in the social media about his relationship with the NNPP and the National Leader of the party, I want to know, was there any communication with Peter Obi and what went wrong with that arrangement?

Well, I don’t know but first and foremost, I have a great respect for Peter Obi, I have had the opportunity to work with him very closely, and I believe he is a man of substance but people make their choices, and I don’t challenge anybody for making any choice especially a political choice. If you look at the sequence of events, it was not as if he was looking for a place to go to, look at it after about five days after leaving the PDP, we heard of his membership of the Labour Party even when we didn’t hear about purchase of forms and screening, he is now the candidate, which means already he had a plan and that plan didn’t happen overnight. In any case every political party is always in talks with other political leaders. No political party worth its salt will close its doors to others, you can’t!

A fellow up to this, you said no political party closes its doors to people, the presidential candidates are just emerging, are you in NNPP thinking of collaborating with other political parties outside the APC and the PDP, coming together with the view of taking Nigeria back it the people?

I think it is common in the history of this country that alliances are formed either before or after elections. It is even more common under a parliamentary system of government where parties join hands to form government. So the political parties may require a kind of alliances either before or immediately after the elections. What I know for sure is that Nigerians have made up their minds, they want to move away from where we are, and I want to repeat myself, anybody who says he is happy with what is happening today is either he is not a Nigerian, may not have been living on the surface of earth or a major beneficiary of the crisis. This is not about politics, but stating it the way it is, therefore talking to groups and individuals are all part of the political process. Everybody is important because this is a national project, when there is fire in the house; you don’t say somebody should not bring a bucket of water to quench it because you don’t like his face, after putting off the fire, you can then decide on what to do with them.

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You said it doesn’t matter where somebody comes from, but considering the agitations in the country, the marginalization and exclusion we all know, don’t you think that it’s safer to adopt the zoning arrangement to ensure that everybody is given a sense of belonging. Secondly, your Party’s National Leader in 2015 was among those that left PDP and joined APC because they said power must return to the North. How do we reconcile that with the recent position that we shouldn’t talk about zoning?

We didn’t bring the word zoning. It’s your own word. None of us talked about zoning. First and foremost, like I said, there are only three ways to get power. One the inherited power, it’s the traditional way, the monarchy, the aristocracy where people inherit power. The other one is by force through conquest, through war or through coup which is an aberration. The third one is people confer on to you their power. You didn’t inherit it; you didn’t get it by force or war. People themselves willingly conferred it on you. When you get that power which people willingly conferred on you it is legitimate authority given to you and they will accept your leadership. But people will not confer authority on you except you show them you have potential for leadership that when they give you this authority they will be safe, they will be accommodated, some of their wishes will be fulfilled, and they will not regret giving you this opportunity. So people have to come forward to show yes they have quality for this leadership and in doing that you have to also go through diplomacy, through negotiations, through compromises, through accommodations, through reconciliation, you find out that it will be done even without raising the voices.

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Assuming the APC will give the ticket to the North. PDP has gone to the North and your candidate is from the North. One presidential candidate is from the South East. What advantage does your candidate have over others?

I think as an academic I always avoid speculative conversations. It’s very exciting, very interesting to go on and speculate, yes maybe philosophically it’s also right, but in this thing I don’t want you to drag me into speculation of who will emerge as flag bearer of another political party since I am not aware of their plans. Secondly you have mentioned there is a leading politician who has moved into another political party. Just at the beginning of this our conversation you said so. These eight months will give Nigerians the opportunity to sieve the grains from the chaff, to separate the boys from the men and separate what is good and truthful from what is not good. I believe Nigerians cannot afford to make a mistake in 2023. They cannot afford to make that mistake.

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FCT Residents should Expect more Clean ups, Demolitions-Attah

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Ikahro Attah is the Senior Special Assistant on Monitoring, Inspection and Enforcement to FCT Minister and a journalist. In this interview with Laide Akinboade, he speaks on the renewed demolition exercise of illegal structures in Abuja and other efforts of FCT Administration to uphold Abuja as a modern city

Give us the brief history of how the renewed vigour in cleaning up Abuja and enforcement of its Master plan all began again?

My history of enforcement is something I never planned or expected.

It started on September  18, 2019. I was one of the journalists covering the State House, I had approached the FCT Minister Malam Muhammad Bello,  for questions on gridlock on Nyanya -Keffi Road and he told me to come and see him on the 19th of September, I went there to get exclusive interview. 
To my shock the Minister announced, he wanted to form a traffic management team, I saw men in uniform  around his office.
He said he want to form the team to address problem of traffic in Abuja – Keffi Road and I was standing by he said, ”You journalist, you are the chairman of the task force on the Abuja FCT Traffic management team.
Many thanks to those who had to encourage me, I know the job could have been done without me. But after the success recorded in Abuja -Keffi
Road, the Minister had to move me to Dutse-Alhaji Road.
Then when Covid-19 came I was so happy because I thought I was going to rest, because the stress of traffic work was so heavy. But during COVID-19 pandemic, the burden of enforcement was so heavy that we had to do heavy enforcement work. Shortly after that the appointment came as Senior Special Assistant to FCT Minister on Monitoring, Inspection and  Enforcement.

How long have you been on enforcement?

I have been doing enforcement work since September 19th, 2019, about three years ago.   

What prompted you to accept the appointment from Minister?

What prompted me was the series of activities. Largely the former FCT Minister, Bala Muhammad, had always told me and other journalists that we shouldn’t limit ourselves to be only Senior Assistant, Media alone, or Chief Press Secretary but as a journalist we should be ready to do anything, we should be ready to do anything outside our purview. But the day the Minister announced my appointment I was shocked but he already believed in me with all the  men in uniform that were there . And when we went to see the former FCT Police commander, Bala Ciroma, he encouraged me and told me I can do the job. Even the former FCT Permanent Secretary, Ohaa also said I can do the job, it seems as if all the people around me believe I can do the job but I am the only person that was a bit worried and wondering how can I metamorphose from being a journalist to an enforcement officer. From that point since everyone believed in me, I had to believe in myself very quickly.
I went out and I discovered we were getting results and getting good results . Although there are knocks here and there but that is normal in enforcement.

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How many clean ups have you done in the last three years? 

I don’t have the precise number. We done traffic management team where we had to clean up Nyanya Market area, cleanup Dutse Alhaji Market area and Maitama Market in Kubwa area.
Later we went for Covid-19 enforcement even within we removed some night clubs, we removed some “Gida drama” and we came to some areas where we had to do demolition. It is what we do everyday. I don’t think I can count. They are so many.

On the clean up, what more should Abuja residents expect?

They should expect more clean ups everywhere. Kuje is an area we are coming, “pantakers,” Apo, Dutse Market, is very much there, Nyanya straight to Karchi, the Airport Road is one area that is very dear to the Minister of FCT. 

The entire Airport Road is very dear to the Minister and he has asked us to constantly go there especially some of the indigenous villages to remove squatters there, we have done Zamani Village but we have not finished. We have babanbola, (cart pushing waste collectors), we have them across the city, we need to smoke them out and removed them. They are enormous.

What are your challenges?

Our major challenges are sometimes attacks. We come under attacks  and sometimes our team members are injured. I can always tell them in enforcement if you are not under attack then you are not doing enforcement. If people don’t confront you, you are not doing enforcement, may be you are just playing around. There is the issue of personnel. We need more personnel , because you must overwhelm the crowd. The FCTA is funding us now but if they can do more funding it will allow us do very much more .
The main issue here is the fact that we get knocks from people. But it is normal and we are getting use to them. The knocks beat us into shape.

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In all your clean ups, which one will its memory linger in you for a long time?

The one attack I will never forget is the one at Luigu. The one that would stay with me for a long time is the Mpape clean up because Mpape people were almost 100 per cent certain that we cannot have access to their community. I really find it worrisome they said during el-Rufai, Mpape didn’t witness a single bulldozer activity. There was so much talk about Mpape and it will stay very long in me because we were able to dimistify that belief that government never comes to Mpape with machine to do demolition but we came. Someone once told me what government  cannot do, is what government is not willing to do.  Government can do so much if they want to do.

What message do you have for people buying, building, selling illegal land?

If you build or buy illegal land from chiefs and others, it would be removed, even if it is not by us but by others in future. There is certainty that someone who will come and do the purging.  Even if we don’t do it someone will do it

As SSA on Enforcement to the Minister, what is your vision? 

I have keyed into the vision of FCT Minister. We will rid the city of illegality, squatters settlements and get babanbola out of Abuja because they are wrecking havoc.

What do you think can be done to permanently rid Abuja of illegalities in erection of structures?

The permanent thing to be done to stop illegality is for the work to be done every day. There is no permanent solution even in the United States, China, you must permanently be doing the job every day. There is no permanent solution to get rid of illegality. The removal of illegality has to be permanent. Remove them so that the people would have it in mind that enforcement is on and then you kill illegality.

Where you are looking for a permanent solution and sit in the office and be pushing file out, will not work. The permanent solution is for you to tackle it everyday.

As the Rainy Season kicks in, how do you intend to prevent flooding again it this year in the FCT?

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We have removed some structures and we are going to be removing more structures. We will be engaging more the FCT Minister, the FCDA Executive Secretary, Engr. Shehu Hadi, Director Development Control, Muktar Galadima, we are all discussing where we can use both planning solution like demolition, restoring the master plan as well as engineering solution by creating more pathway for water to pass in districts like Lokogoma, Trademore Estate and so many others. So that we can get urban water to quickly flow out so that it won’t flood houses or wreck havoc in the communities.

Traffic on Nyanya -Keffi Road, what is the way out? We have been working. The first thing we did was to remove Nyanya Market off the main road. Those days on Wednesdays which is the market day, nobody going to that axis can walk freely, everyone closes from the office on time because the road would be clogged but now we have pushed the market away from the main road.

On a market day now, the clogging has reduced. We are hoping that soon we will be able to push all of them from the road and free the entire market stretch there and no more trading in that area, while the Ministry of Works is working on the road expansion. There is also the problem of roadside trading that we are still removing, sadly the issue of Abacha Road entry point where some people are selling. We have told the Nassarawa State government to get them off. Once Abacha Road blocks, it stretches almost to Nyanya Bridge, that shows we are heavily connected.

What advise do you have concerning illegalities in Abuja?

Abuja is a project and it is a big project for everyone of us and we all must key in and be committed. Residents must not allow illegalities, they shouldn’t encourage “babanbola.” Let us follow the rules.

What is it about “babanbola”(cart pushing waste collectors)?We are going after them massively because what should have been a beautiful business of waste collection and recycling has turned to be very dangerous criminals business, where criminals hide in the dumps, they go with daggers, knife, and all dangerous weapons.

We are going after them strongly, they must purge themselves. The criminal element must leave. Any community where “babanbola” gather, there is massive stealing and people are being attacked daily. Those are the ones we are targeting and we are going to purge them out.

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