Qest: 1. As the Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, can I say that you have the kind of knowledge that’s required to work in the National Assembly?
Yes of course, my experience at the Edo State House of Assembly and the investments that the state government has put in to train me as a legislator will come to bear in my dealings and transactions at the national level. So, I believe that I’m well equipped and that I’m coming into a familiar environment to join my colleagues to see how we can take Nigeria to the next level.
Qest: 2. You are a young man who was voted into the legislative arms and many youth are looking forward to seeing the best of you. How do you best utilise the opportunity given to you here at the National Assembly so as to be an inspiration to the youth?
First, let me say that I have always used the opportunity given to me at any level to give my best back to the people. More so, I’m from the youth constituency. Before becoming a member of the Edo State House of Assembly, I have held quite a number of positions and being a member I have used my position to bring about policies and programmes that promote youth development and inclusiveness. Having been a Speaker, I have used my position to bring about stability to the Edo State House of Assembly. We’ve changed the narratives, and today I can tell you authoritatively that we’re leaving a stable house. I believe with the infrastructures that have been put in place and the laid down rules, I can say the Edo State Parliament is now stable. The unusual and uncomplimentary news that used to come from there is no longer there. Then also coming to the National Assembly, having gathered experience from the Edo State House of Assembly, and coming here to also talk to my colleagues, as we’ve legislative-executive engagements, carry out our oversight functions as contained in the constitution, we will do all that will need to do for the governance of our dear country Nigeria without compromising any standard.
Qest: 3. Now, you’re leading a group of the elected members, and fews days ago we saw that your group have given their backing to the APC preferred candidate. What can you say about this?
You see, once you’re elected, we’re now Nigerian legislators. And as such, we’ve been looking around and checking for the best among us. And don’t forget that whoever becomes the Speaker or Deputy Speaker is only first among equals because having been elected and taking the oath of office in the House, everybody is qualified to be the Speaker. But one person must lead and the APC zoned their position; in fact they didn’t only zoned it, they micro-zoned it to an individual which is Hon. Tajudeen Abbas. And we, the minority caucus, we looked at it, and critically examined it and discovered that the zoning was done for the best interest of Nigerians. The man (Hon. Tajudeen Abbas) in question is a man of capacity. A man that has the required temperament to bring everyone across the country together and direct the legislative processes in Nigeria. So, those of us who have this legislative background choose to align with that thought because we’re not coming into the government to criticise on the basis of criticising, but to have constructive engagement and constructive criticism. In the areas where we feel the ruling party has done well we should be able to give them kudos, not with any malice, but to do what’s right for Nigerians because above all whatever that’s done rightly or wrongly it is Nigerians that will either have the adverse effects or the better effects in terms of leadership. So we believe in the endorsement of Tajudeen Abbas. My group “New Dawn ” is a group of over a hundred and twenty members of the Parliament. We’ve also come out to clearly endorse Hon. Tajudeen Abbas and by the grace of God on the 13th June, we’ll come out and demonstrate that we’ve elected a Speaker that will come and unify the 10th Assembly.
Qest: 4. Sir, you’re unarguably one of the youngest Speaker that a State House of Assembly has ever had, and also one of the youngest members of the House of Representatives. What is your message to the youth and what should they learn from you?
Well, my message is that I’m not the most knowledgeable, I’m not the most handsome, I’m not the most intelligent, I’m not the one that has the most speed. But I have come to the realisation that when the people gives you their mandate you should be able to really discharge that mandate to the benefits of the People. So my message to our young people is that they should get themselves equipped all the time. Prepare for sensitive positions of leadership to the point that when they’re called they will not be seen as not prepared. I have tried to prepare myself for whatever position in the land, and when such opportunities comes because I’m prepared I was able to handle them with the consultations of the leaders. So I’m very much prepared, and I want our young people to look at those things that we have done and think of how to do better when the responsibilities get to them.
Qest: 5. As a young man who has rising to becoming a member of the House of Representatives, where do you draw your inspiration from?
My inspiration was actually drawn from the fact that as a young man who grew up in the village, from a fairly comfortable background, I discovered that our people were suffering. And having had the opportunity to go through the four walls of the Nigeria institutions, I feel that we must have to step in because like it is said, “The weak suffers when the brave refuse to speak”. So I chose to step in to see how we can help to change the narratives. I always try to be at the front burner not necessarily because I want to be noticed, but to be able to be a vocal voice to the people. So my inspiration conclusively was borne out of the fact that we must step forward in order to take our people out of poverty, and that is what we have been doing; opening the governance space and opportunity for people to see all that’s happening. And that’s what I think has even brought me to the National Assembly because we went into the State House of Assembly and clearly demonstrated to our people that is not what it used to be and that government can come close to the people. The people are beginning to see those dividends, and there are more to come with our presence at the National Assembly.
Qust: 6. Let’s take a look at the National Assembly elections in your state, you were the only one who succeeded among the PDP candidates in Edo central, what really went wrong, was it that your party was divided?
Let me say that it was the act of God that everything happened the way it did. And secondly, don’t forget that there were so many crisis in the party arising from court cases and internal rangly, and by the time we could put our house in order we were already faced with the election. Then the wide wind of the Obidient people came and all of that. Suffice to say that politics and my experience of the last election tells me that no matter the wind that comes, if you have the people’s confidence, the people will be able to stand by you. That was what was clearly demonstrated during the last elections, and among all I was able to survive. My advise to everyone is that when opportunity is given to you remember that the masters are the people, and it is good for you to always go back to the people to give account of your stewardship. Ones you’re able to win their confidence, you can be rest assured that anytime, any day you can be voted when you call on them.
Qust: 7. You were the Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly before your election into the House of Representatives. Sir, do you envisage becoming a Speaker at the National Assembly some day?
Like I said earlier, mine is to present and position myself for any task that’s to come. And by the grace of God I have been into this legislative business for quite some time. I intend to equip myself more, and any responsibility that comes, I can tell you that I will be ready to take up the responsibility anytime, anyday.
Qust: 8. What is your priority in the 10th National Assembly?
My priority is to come and help to push policies and programmes that will bring about security in our dear country. Part of the crisis we are facing today that led to food shortage is the fact that there is serious insecurity. We have been battling with the issue of banditry, arm-robbery and kidnapping. Ones the right policies are in place and government is doing the needful, I’m sure there will be security and everybody will be able to do all that they need to do. I will also find a way to support policies and programmes that will engender agricultural production and development.
And above all, to stand for youth inclusiveness and youth development. Ones you are able to develop the youth in terms of enhancing their capacity, I’m sure a lot of this youth will bring back capital to our dear nation. And by so doing, we’ll not have the kind of migration that we’re having today; rather we will set up institutions that will be able to encourage the youth to stay back in the country, and help to grow and develop our nation.
Qust: 9. What is your promise to the people of your Constituency?
You see, I’m one politician who is not very good at saying I will do this or I will do that. But to say that I know the reason why I’m voted. I know the people’s needs, and the reason why I’m here is to come and speak for the people and bring about the dividends of democracy. So if I come to say this is what I will do, it means I’m limiting myself to what is possible. What I want to say is that I have committed myself to come to the National Assembly to bring all that is required to the people of my Constituency, and that I will not be selfish and bias about it. I will have to work extra time if the need arises to make sure that all that is due to my people comes to them.