Legor Idagbo, the member representing Obudu/Obaniku/Bekwara Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, says the Peoples Democratic Party remains the party to beat in Cross Rivers State. He spoke with Paul Obi who presents the excerpts:
How would you appraise your performance at the House of Representatives so far?
We have tried our best to satisfy the yearning and the needs of our people. Because one thing with representation is to be effective in it, which is to reflect what your people want. You cannot be an effective representative without carrying your people along. I have been fortunate to have served as secretary of council, chairman of council, chairman of chairmen in Cross River State, that is ALGON, Commissioner for Works and then now at the national level, the House of Representatives. Once we were elected into office, one of the first things we did was to embark on a tour of the 30 wards in my federal constituency, relating with the people, thanking them for giving us this mandate and asking them what their needs were. And thankfully we have been able to implement a lot of the needs and yearning of our people in the federal constituency; from projects to motions, calling on the federal government for action. To even some bills that we have sponsored on the floor which directly reflect what our people want and have direct bearings on the lives of our people.
How have you been able to intervene in terms of constituency projects and providing dividends of democracy to your constituents?
As I speak to you of the 30 wards in my federal constituency; I can authoritatively say that over 80% of these wards have one or two federal projects that we were able to facilitate; ranging from mini water schemes to solar powered boreholes, to classroom blocks, to road infrastructure, skills acquisition centres and the rest of them. We have been able to influence some of these to the various wards of our federal constituency and we still have a few months to go in office. We have not yet passed the 2018 budget into law. In the 2018 budget I am sure that the wards that have not benefited yet will be captured in the 2018 budget.
The National Assembly is engaging in so many battles particularly with the executive; you have the withdrawal from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) to contend with, with these battles, will the National Assembly be able to carry out effective legislative business?
I wouldn’t want to call it battles. There are three arms of government: executive, legislature and judiciary. Each has its own role to play. We are playing our own role as legislature; we must provide those checks and balances for the executive. We cannot sit down and allow the executive carry on as if it is a dictatorship. Whatever the constitution says should be followed to the letter; if the constitution says the President cannot withdraw money without the approval of the National Assembly; all we are asking is that due process should be followed, that the President should come to the National Assembly and ask for that approval. Again we are saying the Presidency should not interfere in the running of the National Assembly. Trying to interfere with what happens in the National Assembly is what we criticise. Recently, the Mace was taken out of the Senate and some people say the security operatives were involved. These are the things we want to avoid, that’s why we are trying to put the executive on their toes. I don’t call it battles, I think that we are doing what Nigerians elected us to do, to ensure that the executive does the right thing. They follow due process and that Nigerians get value from this administration.
Back home, your party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been sliding to oblivion, on the other hand, the All Progressives Congress (APC) appears to be taking over, what are you doing to prevent APC from taking over Cross River State?
No I don’t lose sleep at all, I don’t think that the APC is taking over any part of Cross River. There are two types of politics; there is politics on the ground with the grassroot people and there is also media politics, social media, print media and the rest of them. So much of what you called APC growing in Cross River is basically on print and on social media. On the ground actually I don’t see that. I can talk intelligently for my federal constituency; I don’t see any significant presence of APC in my federal constituency. And I think that come 2019, PDP will hold sway in Cross Rivers State.
There are also insinuations that since 2015, the PDP government in the state has not performed to the satisfaction of the people. What is your take?
I don’t think so. I would rather say the APC in the country has not performed well as far as Nigerians are concerned and that Nigerians were better off under the PDP before 2015 and now Nigerians have seen for themselves what is happening. They have seen the pains and hardships they are going through. And think that in 2019 Nigerians will be able to come together and take the right decision and give PDP a second chance. I don’t think that PDP has failed; you cannot say they are not doing well in Cross River State. We will come together in 2019, we will work hand in hand with the leadership and take the right decisions for the party, we will look forward and we will be stronger to win elections in 2019 both at the state and national level.
In your Obudu/Obanliku/Bekwara Federal Constituency; about two or three candidates have emerged precisely from Obudu Local Government Area who are interested in your job.
In a democracy, anybody can come out to aspire for any position, but our people are a lot wiser and more intelligent than that; our people know the right thing and when the time comes I am sure the right thing would be done. PDP is a party that believes in zoning; all positions ought to be zoned; if the governor is from another local government it is not proper to take the position of the House of Representative to that same local government or any position in National Assembly to the same local government that the governor comes from. So when the chips are down, I am sure the proper thing would be done. It is a democracy; people can always aspire, the fact that you aspire does not mean your aspiration will come to anything substantial.
There are reports that the Cross River State’s National Assembly Caucus members are not on the same boat with the governor on so many issues, how factual are such reports?
There are times we have cause to meet and address some salient issues that concern us, our state and cur well being here in Abuja and the National Assembly. And so far so good, we have been able to resolve all of those issues. So I can clearly say we are on the same boat.
The APC has not performed well as far as Nigerians are concerned. Nigerians were better off under the PDP before 2015.