‘A Young Person Will Never Rule Nigeria if we Don’t Harmonise with the Common Vision’

Shina Peller

Udora Orizu holds a conversation with House of Representatives member, Hon. Shina Peller, representing Iseyin/Itesiwaju/Kajola/Iwajowa Federal Constituency, Oyo State on a wide range of issues, particularly why replacing service chiefs will bring change in the security apparatus

A lot of people believe that the service chiefs are not doing enough in tackling the insecurity in northern Nigeria, the National Assembly has called for their resignation, but President Buhari has refused to heed to their resolution, what’s your view on this and the way forward?

Well it should be noted that the constitutional rights to hire and fire service chiefs lie with the Mr President, who’s also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. However as federal legislators we are very concerned about the security of lives and property of Nigerians, whose mandate we represent in government and as the legislative arm of government, it’s our duty to bring to the notice of the executive the needs, yearnings and aspirations of our people as well as things that affect them negatively. Nigerians are very disturbed with the ugly situation of security in the country. Daily lives are being wasted especially in the Northern region of the country, the situation is worsening everyday and it calls for a serious concern, this was what necessitated the resolution reached by the National Assembly advising Mr President to replace the service chiefs. However it is visible that our military is ill-equipped to fight this war against insurgency in the country, efforts should also be doubled to ensure that the delivery of ammunition is hastened. I’m someone that believes so much in change, I will say when something is not working, then change is the most important strategy to approach. When you look at armed forces, where people get promoted and all, when you don’t change the service chiefs, this is going to send some sort of wrong information down the line of the hierarchy of the system where you have others already looking forward to promotions when service chiefs are changed. I believe a lot will be achieved if Mr President can effect that decision to change our security apparatus. Another change is to ensure we give adequate support to armed forces, also beyond sacking the service chiefs, community policing should be enforced and strengthened. Information sharing between vigilante and social outreaches should be encouraged as well.

On Niger Delta Development Commission Probe, what do you think President Muhammadu Buhari should do? Also at this point do you think it’s better to disband NDDC?

Disbanding NDDC isn’t the best option, as it will hinder the purpose for which the Commission was established, which is to aid development across the Niger Delta region. Mr President has done the needful by allowing for NDDC probe on the mismanagement of funds. That investigation should be done thoroughly and no stone should be left unturned in ensuring that anyone found culpable is exposed, and prosecuted accordingly. I don’t believe the problem of headache is solved by cutting the head off. I don’t support the idea of disbanding the NDDC, what’s required is to fish out the culprits and make them face the music and it will serve as a good deterrent to the rest of the people in the system.

As Secretary of the Ondo state APC Reconciliation Committee what’s the update? and chances of the party in the state?

I can tell you point blank that Ondo is an APC state and I can tell you that APC will win Ondo. Even before APC took over the governorship of state, it had already recorded 58% in previous elections and as a matter of fact we the reconciliation committee have done a very good job. What’s happening in Ondo state is normal to any party that is in power. When a party is in power there’s possibilities for it to face so many challenges and that’s why we made His Excellency Bola Tinubu set up the reconciliation committee and I can tell you that since we started we’ve been able to mend fences and bridge broken trust and proffer recommendations that will help our party to win the elections in October 2020. We met with all relevant stakeholders both the aggrieved ones and those that are ready to work with Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and I can tell you that all hands are on deck to ensure a landslide victory at the polls. I’m also confident that the National Campaign Council for Ondo State under the leadership and chairmanship of Lagos state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu we will build on our gains to do a super fantastic job.

At every election, the two major parties APC and PDP always blame each other of instigating violence, how can this end?

I can tell you right now these are our main point of focus especially, before I left Lagos I still had a meeting with the Chairman of campaign council, that’s Governor Babajide Sanwo-olu who really placed a lot of emphasis on how to lead a a violence free campaign that will result in a violence free election and I believe this can set a proper trajectory for us in moving forward, especially looking at 2023 election where you believe that there’s going to be a lot of struggle within and between the two major parties when you don’t have an incumbent President. So we are working so hard to show to people that elections can be peaceful and we can win elections in landslide maintaining peace and no violence.

There seems to a blatant disregard for the legislative arm of government, some Ministries, Departments and Agencies shun summons and even when they appear they tend to walkout on lawmakers, what should be done about this?

This is a country that has a constitution, and in a country where there are rules and we have the right laws in place, it’s expected that people should follow the right processes. It’s not just about the legislative arm of government, you can see that the present disorder in the country becoming unbearable even in the judicial system and executive. I just think it’s high time for the right processes to be taken in order to make institutions function. I believe so much for institutions to function and before we set an institution if the right steps are taken and we follow the processes there will not be reasons for us to believe that some people are acting above the law. I’m planning to sponsor a bill on the establishment of a leadership school in the six geopolitical zones in the country, where I believe that anybody that wants to run for a political office should have passed through this school and be taught the duties and roles of the three arms of government. And if people pass through that leadership school, all these problems we face like court cases they use to throw people out of office will be less because. The proper accreditation would have been done at the school.

With the current agitation and unease in the country, the need for national cohesion and understanding has become imperative, to eliminate and defeat the many negatives, So how can the National Orientation Agency (NOA) be put to the best use.

The National Orientation Agency can further be strengthened with proper funding. Sometime ago I visited the agency myself because I noticed that the agency has been performing so poorly. And I sat down with the director of the Agency, and he was able to identify the problems that they are facing and I believe that once the government prepares the NOA in way for them to be able to discard its duty, this will be achieved through a proper improved budgetary allocation. Also after I went to the agency, I decided to come up with a motion and also to sponsor a Bill, and immediately the house resumes we will be able to see that. Similarly if you look at the provision of NOA Act as regards funding there are no specific provision for funding apart from the funds that come directly from the Federal Government, an amendment to that Act will go a long way in strengthening the NOA, I have worked on the amendment of the Act and we will pursue it at resumption of plenary. We also have a role to play as individuals about our attitudes towards Nigeria as a country. Whether it’s an ‘I don’t care attitude’ or patriotic one, we need to make all Nigerians to know that the country is a system made up of different components and that each of the component affects the direct system as a whole, so if you want the best for Nigeria then your actions and attitudes must be positive. If at least 80% of the components of that system could be sincerely positive driven towards the country in their daily activities, then we are bound to have a favorable overall outcome.

As the voice of the common man, what’s your drive? And what have achieved in the past one year of the 9th House?

I’m always driven by the desire to touch lives positively and effect a societal change, it has always been my drive even before I ventured into politics in fact that was actually what drove me into politics. As the voice of the common man, I want to continuously build a platform through which the oppressed can be liberated. I’m always focused on any motion or bills that affects the life of the common man.

Regarding my legislative activities in the last one year, I have successfully lent my voice especially on issues that’s affecting my people. The most important one is the dilapidated roads of Iseyin/Oyo and Okeho/Iganna road and the need to rehabilitate those roads, so hopefully this is expected to attract results in the 2021 budgetary implementation. Similarly I moved the motion on the need to curb the child rape and sexual offenses against women, this has subsequently led the federal government to launch the first ever, National Sex Offenders Register in the country. I sponsored a Bill seeking amendment to the Universal Basic Education Act 2004, that has passed through first reading and I’m sure by the time we come back that should be able to be gazetted for second reading.

Also disturbed by the poor state of primary health care across the country, I moved a motion on the floor of the House, praying that the House should investigate the utilization of provisions basic health care funds made available by the federal government and some other international donors. The House granted my prayers and passed it to relevant committees for investigation. Also I have engaged in some constituency outreach and numerous oversight functions. For instance, I held the first-ever town hall meeting in the history of the federal constituency where many people across the four local governments were empowered with deep freezers, sewing machines, agricultural tools, grinding machines, laptop, and others. Four of the constituents were sponsored on car wrap training for the purpose of empowering them.

Also, to strengthen the security situation within the constituency, I held a series of security meetings with various government security agencies including various vigilante groups across the four local governments in the constituency to fix the security lapses in the constituency. This has yielded a positive result. I also made available provision of business funds to some of my constituents as startup capital for small scale businesses. 20 constituents were given a sum of N50, 000 each. About 15 students from my constituency are currently on my scholarship scheme. There are so many other things I do which fall under constituency outreach that I cannot even mention.

Cases of Rape and Gender based violence is increasing on a daily basis, What is the Green Chamber doing to tame the rape scourge?

It’s unfortunate that rape is on the increase in the country despite the numerous efforts being made by individuals and organizations. Like I mentioned earlier, disturbed by the increasing number of rapes, I moved the motion on the need to tackle the rape scourge and other sexual offenses against women fortunately it was adopted and this subsequently prompted the government to launch the National sexual offenses register. It will not stop here, we will continue to fight against rape or any form of sexual harassment. Rape is evil and there can never be justification for it.

Corruption and cyber crime have become a norm, plaguing Nigeria and it seems to be maiming the country’s image, What do you think should be done to reduce this?

Cybercrime is a global issue and not just a problem facing Nigeria alone, but here in Nigeria it’s now common and it’s a very sad situation. First I think the Federal Government should do more for the masses, more jobs should be provided for graduates, our educational curriculum should be rejigged to fit current global realities and an enabling environment should also be created for young entrepreneurs to do business and succeed. Secondly people should be held accountable. Some people without proper job shouldn’t be seen living more than their means, for this to happen, government officials must first purge themselves of corrupt practices every other thing shall fall in place. Corruption and all sorts of cybercrime is eating deep into the fabric of our nation and it’s a threat if not quickly tackled. And the actions of one Nigerian abroad shouldn’t be used to judge other Nigerians. We’re great beings, doing well globally.

On youth participation in politics, even with passage of Not Too Young to Bill,
Youths are often excluded or overlooked as political candidates. Politics is usually regarded as a space for politically experienced men, what are their chances in 2023 general elections?

The 2023 general elections is already around the corner and I have always said if the youths do not take position now then they should forget about politics. Politics is very important to us, because I will say that we are Nigerians today because there’s a country called Nigeria, there’s a country called Nigeria today because there’s a federal government of Nigeria which is a democratic government and it’s possible only to come to life through politics. So every youth should seek active participation in politics as something that’s mandatory, an obligation that I believe we should all do. What do I mean by people should forget about politics if the youths refuse to get involved now, it’s because, contrary to some opinions, forming a political party is never an option when there’s no electoral reform in Nigeria. What we need as youths is strategic positioning and a structure that harmonizes our power. We already know that we theypuths occupy a larger percentage of our population and also we are the workforce in this country, we need to be able to harmonize this power through proper structure. We have to actively seek for elective offices, set up financial structure that take advantage of our numbers to support campaigns of credible young people that do not even have the capacity to campaign. We have to get more representation in the state and National Assembly. It’s not mandatory that we have to have a youth president before we can make impact. A young person will never rule Nigeria if we don’t harmonize with the common vision across parties religious sociopolitical lines.

What’s the fate of showbiz business post COVID-19?

The fate of showbiz post COVID-19 is placed in the hands of the government, I will say it is now time for the government start to look inwards and to understand that the strength of our nation is in our population. We have a population that can consume all goods and services that this nation produces so why can’t we now look inward and give the necessary support to the citizens establishment of an entertainment and creative industry should be what the government should be looking at now to develop talents that we have in Nigeria. People like Burna Boy and Naira Marley have been singing in UK but they came to Nigeria to blow. Do you know how many of such talents that we have in Nigeria, what is the government doing about that? I believe this COVID-19 is a blessing in disguise if the government is able to look inward and make the right decision.