Rep Mohammed Umaru Bago represents Chanchaga Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives. The ranking member has won re-election for the 3rd term. In this interview, he speaks on the imperative of balancing key positions; why the North Central deserves Reps speaker and why he feels he is the right man for the job. Excerpt:
1. So many people have indicated interest in the position of Speaker. What stands you out?.
Let me make this clear, I am not on a self-propagating voyage neither am I delusional. Humbly speaking, my aspiration is a response to a combination of factors, divided broadly into three, my person and personal characteristics, geo-political balancing consideration, sensitivity and generational imperatives. If I tell you the number of my colleagues who are supporting me, you would be surprised.
First and foremost, my personal traits: I know that I am described as ‘Mr. Relatable’ by my colleagues from the 7th Assembly when I first got into the house until the 8th Assembly. I value and respect relationships, right from my early days. I have cherished building relationships. I seek and build them.
Make no mistakes about it, whoever (and I pray it will be me) that will be the Speaker of the 9th Assembly must be strong on relational dictates.
He must be able to manage all stakeholders and relationships, from the ever recurring frosty executive-legislature relationship, to the primus intre pares dictum. The person must not convey a boss and subordinate National Assembly bureaucracy. Former members and other stakeholders must be well and effectively managed. This is how I’ve been able to move over 20 motions, 15 bills and co-sponsored many others.
Secondly, my ranking status as a third term member will stand me in a good stead, because I have a clear understanding of the workings of the National Assembly as a member and chairman of committees who moved and supported several motions and bills. I have been an active person in plenary and at committee sessions. I have related with speakers. I believe I am eminently able to also manage our colleagues from the chair to the benefit of the 8th Assembly.
I have an educational background that supports my capacity and that will stand me out. I hold two master’s degrees in Finance, postgraduate diploma in management and I’m a Cambridge alumnus. I have been a banker working through banks from CBN to UBA.
I must also say, I am the youngest among other contestants, which implies that I have energy and my credentials are fresh. I do not come into this aspiration with any baggage, supporting me is a great public relations mileage for APC/President. It shows that the youth population now have one of their own and the president can assuage the youths that one of their own is in government.
Lastly, I have traversed this country from Calabar through Ekpoma to Lagos. I speak Yoruba, Hausa and Nupe fluently.
2. While the contenders are many, the issue of zoning is also another factor, why do you think your zone should have it?
I appreciate the fact that you asked me this question, and that is part of why I am different from others. Now hear this: One, our party’s constitution alludes to fairness, justice and equity – APC Constitution 2014 (as amended) – from the preamble, to Articles 7 sub (i); (ii); (ix) all of them clearly situate the need for geopolitical balancing which is in tandem with the Nigerian Constitution, Section 14, Sub Section 1, 1c, 3 and 3. Even our dearly beloved party chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, at the meeting with new members-elect, clearly said, extensive consultations will be done.
So, with the president going to North West, Vice President which is a hair’s breadth position away from president from South West geopolitical zone and Senate President to the North East, this leaves three zones.
At the last presidential election, the North Central geo-political zone gave 2,465,599 votes as compared to 2,036,450 votes from the South West.
So, the idea of the Speaker being zoned to the same state and zone is saying that the North Central is useless, least important in spite of our political equity and contributions to the 2019 elections.
3. And do you think it is good to zone the seat to an individual from a given zone, I mean micro zoning instead of allowing everyone to test his or her popularity?
It’s my opinion that positions shouldn’t be zoned to individuals, but to zones. Since 1999, the North Central has not been privileged to hold any position in the House of Representatives. Meanwhile, the North West has produced three Speakers of the House of Representatives, one speaker from South West, one Speaker from North-East, while for Deputy Speaker, South South – two times, North East – one, South East – one, South West – one, but North Central – not even once! Haba!
In the same nation, where there are six zones and six positions? Zoning the Speaker out of the North Central that has given more to the party than other zones? Haba, what is fair must be just.
Some people are already grumbling as the APC settled for Sen. Ahmad Lawan as Senate president, do you think the party was right to have taken that decision?
About Sen. Ahmed Lawan, again, the other answer to this question will be found in the fine details of the modalities adopted before making any choice. The party may have to proceed with caution as such decision may only be contemplated after extensive consultations as the national chairman has said.
4. In the event you win, what are the things you will do differently?
God willing, when I win, I will not be in quandary about what to do. Insha Allah, I will add value to this arm of government, sustainably taking from the knowledge and experience of those leaders before me and other leaders and mixed with my own views. This is what has informed ‘The Bago Plan’ which is my legislative focus to be presented to my colleagues for their buy in.
I will work with my colleagues to have a more dynamic legislative framework that will support among others the vision of Mr President in the fight against corruption, insecurity and of course revamping the economy, and review of our constitution.
Also of great importance to me is the need to clear the parliament of the perception hitherto as a brood of vipers. We will democratize the operations and activities of the parliament, particularly the House of Representatives in the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians. All these and more are captured in The Bago Plan.