Hon. Muraina Bukunola Taofeeq
Hon. Muraina Bukunola Taofeeq who represents Remo Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives speaks with Sheriff Balogun on national issues. Excerpts:
President Goodluck Jonathan has suspended the introduction of N5,000 note; is it suspension or outright cancellation that the country wants?
No, the gentleman is acting like a coward. Honestly, the president was just acted like a coward because everybody knew that we were talking about a cashless society and then, you introduced N5,000 note- for what purpose? For people to be able to carry large amount of money with a small note, then you were saying a cashless environment; common! I always say that the likes of Sanusi and Okonjo Iweala- it is not about the school you had attended or that you had been at the World Bank, Nigeria is a different society.
We need people who understand what is wrong with their own people before they can be managed. Okonjo Iweala could be Executive Director at the World Bank before, but I tell you, she doesn’t know what is wrong with Nigeria. And when you look at Sanusi, he just wants to go around the country to talk and talk and talk, but thank God, he is meeting his match at this 7th National Assembly. He will not be happy because there will not be free ride for them anymore.
What do you intend to achieve by meeting with your constituents?
Well, primarily if you see, during the electioneering, these were the people that went all the way into the interior of the constituency to canvass for votes. So, inasmuch as we have projects that are coming into the constituency, I think it is better to use them as the machinery to approach the people again on the likelihood of the projects that are coming to the constituency again and as well as to appreciate them for what they have done during the election period. That is what we are doing. It is more or less to carrying them along.
Talking about projects, there are arguments that you should not concentrate them in one area. Are there assurances that you’ll be able to influence those projects to your constituency?
One thing I know is that I will not lie to these people and I will not find myself in the situation whereby I’ll take advantage of whatever the situation might be. The N90 million road project in Iperu is actually not out of my own personal pocket; this is something that is being done out of the initiative of the Federal Ministry of Works. But since it is in my constituency, I am taking ownership of it. But will I say to my people that, oh, this is out of my influence? They will just look at you that this is another way of making us look like fools. But I have looked at all the projects in Remo Constituency and took ownership of them and I am trying to give feedback to the people that these are what you should be expecting in your various area within the constituency.
Many people are of the views that some of these projects are the statutory functions of the local government and by extension, the state. But council funds are being deducted by their respective state governors and that explains why they can’t execute any project.
There is nothing that I can say in that regards. If the local funds are being deducted, let us allow the chairmen of those councils affected to cry out. Until one local government is able to summon courage and come out to say, look, we are having a problem. Our money has been deducted. Not until that is done, I will not join that chorus to say that local government funds are being deducted.
How many are saying it and how many really have the facts in their hands? I learnt about what is going on in Osun and Ekiti. When they get to court, they will all present their evidences and the court will look at it. And mind you, they can only go to a Federal High Court because the money in question is a federal allocation.
But in Ogun, the State House of Assembly had passed a bill into law, which empowers the governor to make such deduction as against the position of the Constitution.
If the state Assembly has given the governor the power to do so, the state House is the peak of the law when you are talking about making laws at the state level. That is within their powers to do that. Now, if it is right or wrong is not for me to say. You see, we have to learn to follow the due process; if there is a law in Ogun that says the state governor has the power to deduct certain amount of money from the local government’s funds, well those are the people that represent each of the local government areas in the state. If they say that is the way they want their local government to be governed, I won’t question it. Now, if it is wrong, there will be people that will come to the same House and say; let us repeal this law; it is not right for our people and they will do it the other way.
Is it true that the ACN lawmakers are at loggerhead with the governor?
That is not true. The governor has been busy with so much work at the state capital that he’s been trying to take the state out of the shamble it has been in the past eight years. So, what will I for one be expecting from His Excellency? To come and be sleeping in my house for people to know that we are friends? The man has to concentrate in doing the work he has been voted to do. When it is time for us to socially interact, we will. But to say that we are at loggerhead is not true.
We are in the same party; the same party that we are now is still the same party that we will be tomorrow. So, I don’t know where people get the speculation from.