BUKOLA SARAKI: In 2yrs, this Senate Has Done What Past Senates Did in 4yrs

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Senate President and chairman of the eighth National Assembly, Senator Bukola Saraki, is one politician in this dispensation with a lot to put in his memoir whenever he decides to write one. Despite a stormy takeoff as President of the Senate, the number three citizen has in two years shown resilience and capacity, such that regardless of the array of mines seemingly strewn in his path, before and after assuming office, he has remained undeterred in steering the affairs of the upper chamber. A former governor of Kwara State and erstwhile chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Saraki is unarguably one of the most influential politicians around. With a network of associates and colleagues across 109 senatorial districts, he is certainly one politician to watch out for in the coming years. In this no-holds-barred interview session with Tokunbo Adedoja, Olawale Olaleye and Damilola Oyedele in his office at the National Assembly Complex, Saraki bares is mind on his stewardship as Senate President in the past two years, how he weathered the storm that greeted his emergence, his relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari, his take on the scorecard of the APC-led federal government and the chances of the party in future elections. Excerpts:

Your leadership took off on a note of crisis, occasioned by the manner of your emergence, what lessons can you take away from this experience and in what ways has it shaped your leadership?
Right from day one, I have always had the position that majority of the noise was really from outside the chamber, than within the chamber, and most of the crisis that we had had been fanned from outside. And if we have been left to carry on, with the work we have done, we would have resolved those issues. In every political situation, people go for election. There are always fallout of elections everywhere, whether you are contesting for chairman of council, or you are contesting for governor, House of Representative, Senate President or Speaker; where you have an election there are always fallout. Some will lose, some will win, and before you know it election is over and it is time for governance but unfortunately we were not allowed to do that because some were still fanning the crises. So instead of us being allowed to do the work, issues related to the election were diverting attention. But luckily, very soon ,most of our colleagues realised that we did not come here for elections, elections was a process.

What we came here to do was to serve our people. Election has come and gone, we need to move on to get down to the work that we needed to do. But the election was what defined the position that those people took: they did not look at the legislative agenda or what our plan was, but were defining us based on the position we had taken before the election. But with time, as you always say the truth will always emerge, we were able to unite with people that had different views and we have realised that we need to move forward and to do what we needed to do. We were clear on our agenda, it became clear to people what we said from day one: sincerity of purpose, determination and focus. And as I have said many times, we go by antecedents. I have been a governor for eight years, and I tell people that before I became governor, and after I finished my tenure, there had been a difference, and even when I was chairman of Governor’s Forum. So coming here as Senate President, making a mark, which is what we wanted to be given a chance to do, and it’s what we were elected to do.

The lesson I have learnt is just to reinforce my belief that as a leader in a position of leadership, you must have your own vision, belief and priorities. You must have what you intend to deliver, have an idea of what kind of legacy you want to leave, and you must be determined and focused, and not be distracted. A lot of side comments are mere distractions. It is not that people comment out of sincerity, or love for the country. If you make the mistake to fall into that trap, you would lose focus. So you must have your own mind, be clear on what you want to deliver, and be determined.

Secondly, you must also be able to work very close with your colleagues. A lot of decisions we took at that time, people misconstrued them to be about self-agenda but they did not know that I was just representing the wishes of my colleagues. People misunderstood that; their view then was it was Saraki. It was not, I was standing for the principles that we all stood for, that this is another arm of government and should be allowed to administer its own affairs in line with the Constitution and the Red Book.

Another lesson which I have learnt before, but has been reinforced is that no matter the opposition you get, always stand for the truth. Stand for what you believe is right. Eventually, with a lot of sacrifice and guidance and, people would come around to the truth and come around you wherever you find yourself.

That crisis polarised the party in a way that affected the interface between the party and the leadership of the National Assembly. The party and its caucus in the National Assembly could not interface for quite some time. Do you think this development has in any way affected the performance of the government?
The party did not play the role it should have played. It was a party for all: for the executive arm of government and the legislative arm of government and I think the party should have played the role that it is now playing. For the party not to have warmed up to its members in the National Assembly is a big mistake. The party also knew very well that the members in the senate, and the house did not do anything against its position. They told us what to do, which we applied, then they changed their position to side with one side against the other, when they were supposed to keep everybody together. It’s until recently that the party decided to do the right thing, to interact with the members of the National Assembly. I agree that if the party had played its role at the time, it would have been easier to bring the government together. We are all children of the party, and it has that role to play, so it could have done much better.

It is common knowledge that the events of the time created crises of confidence between you and President Muhammadu Buhari. How is your relationship with the President now?
I base our relationship on the work we are doing together, I believe we are working together very closely with the Executive to make sure that as a government we deliver. Whatever was happening at that time, I stayed focused on what my responsibilities were as the President of the Senate, of the ruling party. We never took any decision based on what else was happening post election. A lot of people were trying to make that an issue, but I was very clear in my mind that I need to be responsible, and above board to realise that I must rise above sentiments, because a day will come when we would sit down, like now, and people would begin to see that we got these people wrong, we misjudged them. We are all on the same side, we all won an election for change. Some of us played our roles and I can say, with all humility, that I am sure if you count 1,2,3,4 people in the party that really worked hard for the election, I will be there. So why will I, after doing all that, be party to bring the government down? So despite the personal challenges one was going through, it was very difficult because one had to manage the challenges and pain against the bigger picture, which was the country. So let me say that at any given time, as far as I am concerned, the relationship, at any given time, did not affect the work at all. I was committed to serve. But the commentaries, those running the commentaries concluded… sometimes people judge you by themselves, by what they would have done in those kinds of situations. It is now a lot of them come to say “SP, we got it wrong, we made a mistake, we should not have been like that.” But that did not stop the work that we were set to do.

That is why I say to people, judge based on requests coming from the Executive, look at how many has been sent, how many have we approved, how many have we rejected? Let’s not base on sentiments, but actions. If you look at requests, have we treated them in any way that suggests that we are not working together? No, not at all!

What about your relationship with APC stalwarts likes Senator Bola Tinubu, former Governor Rotimi Amaechi?
I have spoken a few times on my relationship with the Asiwaju and again my comment is that the 2015 election is over and is gone. What we have before us now is governance and I am always ready to work with the leaders of the party on governance. If anybody is still holding anything against me based on the role I played in 2015 election, honestly, I owe no apology because the position I took was taken in the best interest of the party, it was not intentionally done in any way to slight anybody. What is important now is how the government will perform, and how our party will be strong. That is my position.

In what ways has your leadership complemented the efforts of the Muhammadu Buhari administration?
Our main focus in the eighth Senate is on the economy. We looked at it, and said the economy would be our main agenda. Over the last two years we have been very supportive even more than supportive, we have been pushful in ensuring that the Executive plays its role in the economy. When the issue of recession started, it was here in the Senate that we debated it, came out with a resolution, we gave a road map that we thought the Executive could take. We are happy some of these are being done now. For example, we said there was a need for dialogue in the Niger Delta, that other actions should be taken, we were very firm. We talked about trying to increase the environment better for doing business. We are happy that the Acting President is leading and chairing the ease of doing business council.

We listed about ten or few bills, very important economic bills that will reform the environment and today we are happy to see that – either from Port Reforms, Petroleum Bill, from the Customs, and so many bills that have to do with the economy. And the Made in Nigeria (crusade) that we started here, and has become the talk of the executive.
Secondly also, we gave support to the military in the area of Boko Haram. It is there on record that I was the first Senate President to visit the North East. I have been there, not once, not twice or three times, working very closely with the government to see how we can provide adequate funding for our men and women in uniform. Also on the humanitarian crises, we are working very closely with the Executive.

Thirdly in the area of corruption, our fight against corruption, we are looking at what laws will strengthen the institution. Our focus has been strongly about that because it is the institution that will survive all of us long after we have gone. So on the three areas that are important to government, we have been very strong.

I spoke about confirmations, the President has sent about 196 names to us for confirmation and we have approved 185 and rejected only 11. If you go back and check from 1999, I do not think we have seen any Senate that has given that kind of support. We cleared all the ministers and I don’t think any Senate has done that since 1999. So when you look at it based on result and facts I can say that we have been very supportive in complementing the actions of the government.

Speaking about nominations and confirmations, the issue of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, threatened to cause a rift with the Executive. The Senate rejected him and the President has refused to take action. So what is the position of the Senate right now, regarding this?
We have finished our work; we finished our part, which is to go through a confirmation process, done with the confirmation process and we made our position known by rejecting the confirmation. Now it is the Executive, that needs to do what is right in complying. They have done their interpretation of the constitution, we have left it there, we have done our part. As far as we are concerned, honestly this issue of the EFCC chairman, we don’t want to personalise it. It is a process issue and we followed the constitution and we followed the law. It is not only EFCC, there are many like that.

The Senate under your leadership has taken resolutions on key national issues. What is your view on the level of compliance by the Executive?
Let me come back to this (Magu) issue. Honestly, I believe that some of the commentaries have not been fair to the Senate. There is no parliament anywhere in the world, where the most important institution on intelligence, whether it is FBI, or CIA, or similar agencies in other parts of the world gives a report on any individual who is to head an anticorruption agency, and says in its report that there is a question on that person’s integrity. You think that that parliament will just throw that report in the bin and disregard it, and go ahead? Nowhere. But unfortunately in most of the comments, nobody is talking about that.

Secondly, by virtue of the exercise we have done, people say “Ah! They don’t like Magu because some of them have cases in the EFCC”. Some of the cases against former governors are over 12 years ago. Poor Magu. Was Magu the one that took those cases to EFCC? No. So it is just a kind of blackmail and that sometimes discolours the whole discussion. Nobody has anything against Magu. Magu has nothing to do with whoever has cases in court. Even if a case is in court, can Magu do anything about it? No! Even if you are Magu’s brother, will Magu go to court and withdraw the case? No! Where inconsistencies come into it is that, another head of agency, take for example, the head of lottery commission, who needs confirmation, and who did not know when to resume. The moment we raised it, what did the government do? Immediately, government told him, “No, No no, you cannot do that. The Senate has to confirm you. Wait till the Senate confirms you.” Then in the case of Magu, “you can continue to work even though Senate does not confirm you.” So those are inconsistencies; we have left it with the executive, we have played our own part. And I hope that very soon they will find a solution to move forward.

But the point I want to raise is that, there is no personal issue in anyway about it. It is just that constitution that we oeprate, that we are guided by. If out of 195 times, we agree that the constitution is not a problem 185 times, on 11, 10 it’s not a problem. Only one should now define whether the executive and the legislative arm of government are working together? I don’t think we are being fair to the democracy that we operate.

Now, going back to compliance, I don’t believe that the views they have expressed truly holds water, because even by their own actions, there is inconsistency. If you say some of these do not need to come to the senate, and two weeks later you sent another letter to me saying that I must confirm somebody, there is inconsistency there. You just said the reason somebody can go on is because he does not need to come to me. Then two weeks later you are now sending someone to me for confirmation, there is inconsistency. So apart from this I think, by and large, the executive has complied with most of our positions, apart from one or two. That is why again I say that I don’t define relationship based on one or two incidences, by the type of democracy we are operating, the presidential system; it is meant to have conflict between the executive and the legislative arm of government. By nature of the way it is , it is a check and balance kind of system. When you have that, there will be times you agree and there would be times you will disagree. When you disagree does that mean that your relationship has hit the bottom? No, I don’t think so. If you take the EFCC that we are talking about out of the way, luckily there are not many of that. By and large they have been compliant, and just one or two that are unresolved.

Would you take it further and approach the Court on this matter?
We have not broken any law. When you have a relationship, I think the court should be that last resort to be an arbiter in this matter. I still believe that we have not exhausted all the options. But we are not the ones that would go to court. If the Executive does not believe that we did the right thing, they can go to court.

In passing the budget few weeks ago, you fulfilled your promise to open the budget of the National Assembly. It however seems like that is not enough. A civil society organisation said the National Assembly needsjust about N52 billion. Why do you think National Assembly budget is perceived in such bad light?
It has been a perception that has been there for many years, since 1999. We have not helped by not being open from day one. We contributed to it, people have lost trust and there is no trust in our budget. It is however a work in progress, we have started it, we have opened it up and people will start to do their own analysis. Like you said the person said we needed N52 billion. What is the basis for that? We have opened it up, still people we say: “Oh National Assembly takes so much money”. You have seen the figures, the salaries, the running costs in the offices. I think it is unfair on the National Assembly. What people do is that they will take the budget of the National Assembly and divide it by the number of lawmakers and say that is what everybody is taking. I can take the budget of the presidency, and divide it by the number of staff in the presidency, and share it, and say that is what everybody is taking.

But because it had not been opened, a lot of people had to second guess it for many years. So it will take time. Let people begin to look at the analysis and break it down. So it is clear from the 33 pages, you can see what the salary of the National Assembly is, you can see running costs. The best thing is that you can no longer say that each senator or each member is taking this amount because you shared it. You now know there is something called National Institute of Legislative Studies, you now know there is a management account, you know there is a GL account, you know there are legislative aides. So you can’t add that money up and say it belongs to the senators.

Now, the question is: the money that you have seen that goes to the Senators, let’s start a debate to see if the money is too high or too low. Definitely, it is not N120 billion divide by 360, which is what used to be done. Now you know that for example in the Senate, I don’t know the right figure of the total amount of salaries probably about N2 billion, then you have about N25 billion for overheads. For the overhead, it is the same principle as ministries and everywhere else. You cannot take the overhead of ministries and share it among the staff, and say that is their take home pay. This is a great achievement, we promised it, a lot of people thought that we could not do it. It has been done, it shows that we are a listening Senate. Now to begin to debate the amount is fair game.

There seems to be some rumblings in the opposition because the Chairmanship of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) traditionally goes to someone in the opposition party. Senator Andy Uba defected from the PDP to your party in March, and he continues to hold that position. Are you moving away from Senate tradition?
No, we are not changing the tradition. I don’t think there are rumblings, there are a number of things that we want to do, not only regarding Senator Andy Uba, a few changes are likely to happen. We decided to do a more holistic change. So it would happen. That position is always for the opposition, and it would remain like that.

Let us take a sincere look at the APC administration. Are you proud of the performance of your government?
Yes, I have been asked this, and I believe that this government led by President Buhari has made a lot of significant achievements. I will tell why and will also tell you some criticisms so we put the two together. First of all, let us begin with the issue of security; we are know where we were in 2015, we had Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, about 24 local governments taken over by Boko Haram, where Boko Haram hoisted their flags, that they were no longer part of Nigerian territory. And today, that is not the case. The Nigerian Army, the Air Force and other security agencies have been able to take over those places and return them back to Nigerian territory. That is a great achievement because we all seem to forget, even prior 2015, series of attacks were carried out by Boko Haram. So from that point of view, there is success in the area of security.

Secondly, the fight against corruption. Today, it is a topic that we are all talking about, it is on the front burner. As a society, as a country, we must fight corruption, this is something we don’t want, and something we must get rid of. And that has been because there is a political will, there is a government that is doing that. That is an achievement because what we have always lacked is the political drive. Now you can question the results, the achievements. Have we been fully successful on that? Have we got the right achievements on that? That is something that we can debate. But that does not take away the fact that this is a government that has truly put that issue on the front burner.

Thirdly, is the area of the economy, which is where somebody said if we are to score ourselves, I would say that we have done very well. Excellent in the issue of security and terrorism, and I would say fair in the issue of the economy. Fair in the area of economy because of what we inherited. You can say it’s propaganda, but the facts are the facts. You cannot look at the economy that was running on oil at $100 and the production at 2.2 million barrels per day, to an economy that has crashed at one point to $50 per barrel. If we had other products… but that is the only products, so there must be a resultant effect of that crash. We have had to take some very critical decisions, which is that, we must diversify the economy. In doing that, we must be able to take very unpopular decisions seeing that it is time for us to look at other areas of the economy. This takes time. I was a governor in Kwara State and I have very strong passion for agriculture. What we are seeing in parts of the country today is that a lot of people are going back to farming, and they want to see the benefits. That takes a long time before it begins to materialise and you see the benefits. We still have a lot to do, but are we better off than where we were in 2015. Definitely we are better off on the structural reform that we are doing. On the day-to-day pain that people are going through, you might say ‘yes, things are difficult.’ But this is not just because of the administration, these is because of the economics on ground. The economy is shrinking due to the fact that there is not enough money, resources have dwindled and the impact is what we see. But I believe the economy will pick up. How quickly it picks up is not the issue. What we should be looking at is five years down the line if there would be sustainability. If we should continue the way we were, we would just be depending every time on the economics outside Nigeria, whether it goes up or it goes down. What we are trying to build now, is to have an economy that, irrespective of crude price, it is an economy that would be stable because you are not just depending on crude oil as source of revenue. But these are things that will take more time.

You talked about achievements in the area of security, but a new form of insecurity is emerging in form of herdsmen, kidnapping, armed robbery, which have been on the rise…
I am not sure that I agree with you that kidnaping has been on the rise compared to where it was before we came in. Yes, the herdsmen are a serious issue, but what I am saying is that the security situation, compared to when we came into power, there is no doubt there has been an improvement. Does that mean we cannot do more? Of course we can do more.

Still on government performance. So what really is the problem, is it the challenge posed by the capacity of the administration to deliver?
I don’t think capacity is the right word, some of these reforms are not things that would happen overnight and we must see that we are at a point in our country when we must go through some structural reforms. Those structural reforms are difficult and painful. The resources are limited; you are trying to bring infrastructure to address security and trying to address social issues, and it’s the same amount of resources available. So these are very difficult times when you must tighten your belt. Some of the needs cannot happen overnight. For example, when you are talking about infrastructure, and we want private sector participation because government alone cannot fund it, that would not happen overnight. How will it happen? It is by building confidence in the economy that would enable people to come and partner with us; whether they are Nigerians or foreigners, to invest in (different) sectors. Without that happening, we are still going to continue to struggle. The platform we are laying as a government that wants to be transparent and accountable, is to do that. Yes, there is a room for us to have more hands, people with greater ability, capacity to support the government in certain areas. That is normal, government must continue to fine-tune, that goes without saying. That will definitely help us to deliver on some of those promises.

Hypothetically, if an election is held today, can you be sure your party would win?
Yes, we will win. For those of us who are in the field, election is like a beauty contest. In a beauty contest, you say that is the person that is the most beautiful; they compare. You are not going to the election as yourself alone. You go into election, and ask what is the alternative? I still believe that we are the best alternative for the Nigerian people. Are we the best? Are we the best in the sense that did we deliver the best? Probably not, as I said, there are challenges. You don’t go to election just to vote, but to vote as a choice of this party or that party. I am saying that as at today, the best party to deliver on the aspiration of Nigerians is still the APC.
Now, that does not say that APC is the best thing possible, but APC is the better thing compared to others. That is why when you said I was so quick to answer it, because I looked around, it’s just like going to a race and you say am I going to win that race? I look round, to see who is competing with me, and I can tell you before I start the race that I am going to win the race. So I honesty believe that under the circumstances, the party still has the best opportunity to deliver to Nigerians compared to any of the other parties.

As an active politician, what are your personal calculations towards 2019?
It would be unfair to Nigeria, with all the challenges we have now, to be talking about 2019. When people like us start entering that terrain of discussion, we are going to divert attention away from what is important. What should be important now is that you see what we are doing, and tell the people what we are doing. We ourselves, it is to focus on our promises to Nigerians on 2015 mandate. We must deliver.

There is time for politics, politicking, and there is time for governance. As of now, there is still time, this is time for governance. When we get to 2018, you can come after first quarter and I will answer all these question on 2019. But for now, if you are asking me about 2019, and this is always my position, I will not entertain it. The focus now is on governance, how we can make life better for the Nigerian people.

If the presidency is thrown open today, and there would be a contest, would you throw your hat in the ring?
It is the same answer I will give you; that question is a good question. Save it, first quarter 2018, ask me the same question and I will be able to tell you what will happen. What I am interested in now is how we going to improve, be less dependent, be a self-sufficient country, be able to produce our own food. How can we get private sector to take some of the responsibilities on infrastructure? My view is that, as long as the government is the one doing all the roads , rail, we will not have money for education and health. Some of the other countries that developed were developed because private sector took away some of the functions. 56 percent of our budget is on infrastructure. For as long as we are spending 56 percent on infrastructure, you continue to see a lot of Unity Schools not having water, not being able to provide proper sewage. So my focus is, what can we do to improve that? What can we do to improve security? We have time, let’s focus on that until next year , then when next year comes, we will be able to talk about politicking.

You are standing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal. How much distraction has that caused your leadership at the Senate?
Well, I have spoken on this many times and as I said, it has. But I think that part of the challenges of life is to be able to deal with the challenges you have. I think one would have been able to do more, but despite that we have been able to achieve a lot of firsts. By the time we show our scorecard at the end of this two years, you would see that we have been able to do more than previous Senate, despite all these distractions. One has come to terms with that, and has been able to deliver on the kind of work we promised.

Do a quick appraisal of your legislative agenda, have you been able to achieve your set goals? What is your focus for the next 12 months? What is that one thing that stands this particular Senate out?
We have been able to achieve some of the things we set out to achieve. Looking at my speech when I ran for President of Senate, and when I was elected President of Senate, we talked about, one, we wanted to be able to do some reforms, open NASS, we wanted to have a clear legislative agenda which would show where we are going. Our focus has been the economy, and we have passed a number of major bills, about four or five infrastructure bills. The Railway Bill has been there for 50 years, never been reviewed; we have looked at Ports Reform, it has never been done; we have addressed Inland Waterways, it has not been done before; we have looked at areas of ease of doing business, from credit bureau to secure transactions, credit to farmers. Things that would allow people to have ease of finance and stimulate the economy. A major one also is ‘Made in Nigeria’, public procurement amendment where we passed a bill that demands government agencies give right of first refusal to Nigerian companies. These are major legislations that we have passed, and that has always been our focus. We passed INEC bill, changing the electoral processes, we passed that. Petroleum Industry Bill, which has been jinxed for many years, many members of the National Assembly have not been able to pass it. Even things like sports, some of us are lovers of football and one of the major issues were the laws guiding the NFF (Nigeria Football Federation), which used to bring us in collusion with FIFA, we passed them.

I want the eighth Senate to be one where people will see that the bills we have passed have been able to make impact on peoples’ lives. These are landmark legislations we have passed.
What do the next couple of years hold? It still boils down to the issue of the economy. How do we continue to ensure that we finish up two more bills we want to pass on petroleum? Fiscal and the Host communities. We want to pass those two bills, they are very key to further investment in that sector and to bring peace to the host communities. We want to address some of those laws that would improve attraction of Nigeria for investments. Constitutional amendment, we want to address that because there are major issues. That is one of our focus, which we will address when we come back from recess. We will also address issues like the land issues and some of the issues that are very important to us.

If you look at some of the statistics, even if you look at some of the bills we have passed, the number of bills we have passed, is almost equivalent to the number of bills that other Senates have passed in four years. These are some of the things that we have done, that had not been done before. We want to be seen as the Senate that keeps to their promises, we want to be one that listens to the concerns of Nigerians; to look at the issues of tariffs, electricity tariff, data tariff as regards to communication companies, and interventions on some of the issues of concern to Nigerians.

And we are always going to be independent. People can see that we are an arm of government that always stands for what is right. On the issue of the fight against corruption, there is no agency that can do any funny stuff and believe that the Senate would just gloss over it, or collude with them, unless we do not know about it. That is a good message. At least Nigerians can begin to believe that there is a body that believes that nobody cannot be called to order. We have made big sacrifices for that, we believe that by the time we finish our four years, we will leave an institution that people would be happy with.

The most important part of democracy is the legislative arm, so it is in the interest of all of us that love democracy to protect the institution of the National Assembly. When you do that, you are not protecting Bukola Saraki, it is the institution. We would come and go, but we must give support to that institution, because that is what represents that people. Our hope is that by the time we are done, we would have put that institution in a place that Nigerians would begin to respect it, and say yes, they are doing things that affect lives, they are above board. If you look at the last two years, when we talk about corruption, unlike before, there is no scandal of any corruption issues in the National Assembly. Maybe something happened and people in the National Assembly were caught doing this or that, no such thing. These are issues that came into the Senate before, like the management of funds of the National Assembly, or scandal in trying to cover up something, or allegations that monies were shared. You would see that those kind of things are not things you see in this Senate. We will try to continue like that. It would take time, as I said, having a procedure that was opaque, it is not overnight that you would win the confidence of people. But I want to thank Nigerians for their patience and understanding, people are beginning to see the work we are doing, to appreciate that okay, no matter what you say about the Senate, you might not like them, but look, they are people that get things done. These are people that have the capacity and ability to make things happen. We are here to make things happen, we are not here to gloss over things, or make sensational issues. We are here to improve the lives of our people and that is what we are doing.