Chairman, Senate Committee on Poverty Alleviation and Social Welfare, Ali Wakili, told journalists in Bauchi, among others things, that President Muhammadu Buhari has no intention to Islamise Nigeria. ALI GARBA was there and reports.
What is you reaction to President Muhammudu Buhari’s decision to implement the N5, 000 stipend to unemployed youth?
I don’t think he has ever reversed himself, but people are misinterpreting what he stated. In this year’s budget, N65billion has been set-aside for vulnerable Nigerians. That means they will be receiving N5, 000, so Buhari didn’t say that he is not going to pay anything.
If you have the patience to go through the budget presented to the National Assembly, you will see that N500b has been set aside for the welfare of Nigerians, in terms of the 500 school teachers called Teach Nigeria that are supposed to be recruited and there are 100,000 Nigerians under that same school teaching that would be given some money.
There are nowhere the President reverse any decision; people only misinterpreted him. What he stated.was that he didn’t promise to dole out N5, 000. But you know, the opposition wants to capitalise on that one.
The President in an interview with a foreign medium recently stated.Nigeria has joined the Islamic coalition against terror and some Nigerians have accused him of planning to Islamise Nigeria. What is your take on this?
There are over 40 countries that are inside that coalition, including European Union (EU), but it is very unfortunate that in Nigeria, we always want to capitalise on religion to destabilise this nation. Religion is supposed to be a factor of unity and not disunity.
Nigeria entering the coalition, I believe, is a welcome development. Can anybody Islamise or Christianise Nigeria? Dr. President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian, was the immediate President, did he Christianise Nigeria? Buhari was head of state in the 1980s and now President, he had stated.it before that most of his trusted aids are Christians and if he did not Islamise them, why will he Islamise Nigeria?
If the President can work with people that belong to different religions and he still trusted them for over 50 years of his life, then he has good intentions for Nigeria.
Do we think we can confront Boko Haram headlong alone? When other countries want to assist us to fight Boko Haram, we are complaining. I think the best way is for us to have a coalition to fight them, instead of complaining.
There is speculation that the National Assembly plans to kill the Treasury Single Account (TSA) introduce by the President?
It is the National Assembly that is very much interested in the TSA, so how will they kill it. Are we not the one that brought about the fact that some people want to use the issue of TSA to sub-change Nigerians?
It was the National Assembly that wants to ensure that contract for those that are supposed to be on the platform for the TSA is brought to the public knowledge. The National Assembly is on the first-line charge and not a revenue-collecting agency.
Can you tell us the aim of the Memorandum of Understanding you signed with Pentec Company?
Basically, the work of a legislature is to ensure that laws are strengthened with an oversight function, but as politicians, sometime we do certain things outside our core functions by empowering our community and helping them to ensure they live a good life.
We signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Pentec Engineering Nigeria Limited for the provisions of hand pumps in Bauchi South Constituency. We are starting with Bauchi Council, where we want to drill some hand pumps for our people.
When I went round for the campaign, part of the problem of the people outside poverty is water problem, bad roads and other things. What I can do within my allowances and personal means is to help the community and part of it was the donation of mobile laboratories, which I have done, and now the signing of the MOU.
I have issued a cheque as part payment to company, so that they can start constructing some hand pumps. If you look at the situation of our people, their health is deteriorating and we are now in a very hot weather and the people need clean water to be healthy, because there are a lot of diseases that can break out due to bad water.
So, we are trying to drill some boreholes to strengthen the lives of our people in Bauchi Metropolis and its environs of Wunti Dada, Guru Jaja ward, Bakaro and other places.
Do you have a mechanism of monitoring issue of dry season farming, which you launched recently?
We have been trying to do it with the Abah River Benue Basin Development Authority, which is the custodian of the project.
What we need to do is to ensure that the state government and federal government establish cottage industries.
All the state government can establish cottage industries, so that some of the products coming out from dry season farmers, like tomatoes, can be utilized.
This will also encourage farmers to produce more, because if they have a loss at the end of the farming season, they will be discouraged. When they sell their products without gain, they will not be encouraged.
So, we need to encourage them to give them market, so that they can sustain their result. We have to empower them. I want to call on the government, especially the state government, to establish cottage industries, so that the farming products will be better utilised.