Hon. Omar Nurudeen is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Nasarawa state. In this interview with BODE OLAGOKE, he speaks on the recent confidence vote on Governor Tanko Al-Makura by the state House of Assembly, diversification strife and the performance of the APC government in the state
The Nasarawa state House of Assembly recently passed a vote of confidence on the stage governor. How would you react to this development?
As a politician from Nasarawa state, I believe that what the state assembly did is not welcomed because they are empowered by the constitution to check the excesses of the executive. We have separation of power. We thank God that the legislature is an arm of government itself and not under the executive. They should borrow a leaf from wha is happening at the national level and do justice to all because they were elected and given a mandate to represent the people. So, they should strive to live up to their responsibility. Unfortunately, Nasarawa state legislators have become puppets in the hand of the governor.
They were not elected to pass vote of confidence on a governor who has not been paying salaries as and when due. For about two years now, the governor has been paying salaries of local government workers on percentage basis. As elected representatives of the people, they should call the governor and ask him why it should be so even after collecting the bailout funds and even the Paris loan refund. As we speak, three of the tertiary institutions in the state are on strike. These are College of Agriculture, Lafia, Nasarawa state Polytechnic, Lafia and College of Education, Akwanga. With these problems on ground in the state, how can they pass a vote of confidence on the governor?
Do you see this as a distraction so that people won’t know the problems of governance in the state?
I think they are afraid of what happened with the PDP dominated House from 2011 to 2015 who constantly fought the governor in line with the interest of the different parties. What they have in mind now is that they are looking for reelection and so, don’t want to rock the boat so that they will get the endorsement of the governor to return to the house.
We understand that the President told them to diversify and not depend too much on federal allocation. But despite our proximity to Abuja which should be an advantage to boast internally generated revenue, our governor has never told how much he generates monthly. Look at Plateau declaring about N2 billion every month. The same thing applies to several states in the country, but we don’t know what we generate monthly. I think it is the duty of the state Assembly to call him to account for what is generated and how it is spent. He collected the Paris loan refund and yet the tertiary institutions are on strike and what that means is that the governor has diverted out money. Other wise, he should tell us what he is doing with that kind of money.
Of what value is the bridges and culverts to the people of the state?
I don’t believe that there are bridges and culvert. Are we living in a riverine state? Nasarawa state is a flat land. How many rivers do we have in Nasarawa that somebody is telling you that he constructed bridges. It is surprising to me for the assembly to say they have passed a vote of confidence on the governor for constructing a bridge which is not contained in the budget. They should know that the governor has no right to spend money that has not been appropriated for. They should check their records to see if the culvert and bridge is contained in the budget. The governor is running the stage like his persona estate and the state assembly is not able to call him to order. They should strive to do what is right so that the people will say we have elected vibrant representatives and not puppets that will dance to the tune of the governor.
People will be wondering why you are criticizing the governor since you are in the same party?
That is the beauty of democracy. If you look at President Trump, the greatest criticism against him during his campaign was from his party members. I am not bothered about party affiliation. The Nasarawa stage House of Assembly is made up of 24 members, of which 22 are APC members. Let us sympathize with the workers and what is happening in the state and we want to see development in the state. We don’t have too many civil servants, but let the governor do what is good and leave a legacy behind. During his campaigns, he promised that money spent in running the government will be made public, but from 2011 till date, he has never told the people how much receive as federal allocation, how much he received from ecological fund and the internally generated revenue. Most of the projects he claimed to have executed are carried out by a company he has interest in. The contracts has not followed due process or through the procurement act.
Why do you think other party leaders in the state are keeping quite?
Nasarawa is a place where people don’t want to come out and speak against the governor. I don’t know their reason. But I cannot shy away from my responsibility because I have never worked with him, I have never received any contract from the state and I am not looking for one. So, I can express myself. So, I am using this opportunity to challenge the governor that since he came on board and promised to run a transparent government, he should tell us what he has collected as allocation since 2011 and also take the challenge posed by el-Rufai and make public his security vote so that we will know that what he collects is actually not enough to pay salaries.