Jonathan Has Not Said He’ll Contest In 2015 – Senator Brambaifa

News Introduction: 
Senator John Brambaifa represented Bayelsa West between 2003 and 2007 in the Senate. Ever since he left the upper legislative chamber, he has been involved in other aspects of politics because according to him a politician will always play politics. In this interview with Emma Alozie, Senator Brambaifa x-rays some burning national issues and many more. Excerpts:

The national security adviser,NSA, has come under heavy attack because of the statement he made in Delta State last week. Do you think he should have made such a statement in public? 
It all depends on whether I was consulted before that statement was made if I were the president. A statement of that magnitude, one would not expect it to have come from the national security adviser without consulting the president. If I were the president I will certainly frown at it. If I were in the NSA’s position, I would have consulted with my boss that this is what I have found. In actual fact, this is not supposed to be a pronouncement; it was supposed to be a consultation between the NSA and the president. I would not go to the public and make such a statement. If I were the president, I would certainly frown at both the NSA and the statement. 
The Boko Haram insurgency is assuming alarming proportion, what do you think should be done to contain it?
If I were the president, I would have encouraged more intelligence. The intelligence is supposed to focus more on the root cause of the uprising. From enough intelligence, Boko Haram insurgency that has threatened the peace of this country will be tackled.
Some people attribute the heightened bomb blasts on the rumour that President Jonathan wants to contest the 2015 presidential election.
I agree that Mr President is in his first tenure. He has the right to a second tenure if the people agree to vote for him. He has the right as far as I am concerned. But, ironically he has not even made any categorical statement regarding 2015. Categorically, he has not made any pronouncement that he wants to re-contest in 2015. It is all speculation by Nigerians, particularly the media. He has not told anybody that he would contest. All he has said is “look, I am in my first term, let me concentrate to do what I’m supposed to do for the people of this country. Election is a later thing. It is too early to start now.” 
For me the zoning principle was to take care of minority interest that would not have had any opportunity of having a taste of the presidential slot. Zoning made it possible for even Mr. President to be there today. For instance, if there was no zoning, there would have been no way that President Jonathan would have been there. I think that was a good thing. I also think that that principle is to solve a particular problem, the problem of marginalising the minorities. And I strongly believe that after a while, we would have gotten over this minority/majority problem, then zoning would not be necessary because zoning itself is a restriction. Through zoning, you limit the scope of people who would have otherwise come into play. For me I think that the PDP’s principle of zoning was a good one; it was proactive to take care of minority interest. But thereafter, when this problem of a group of people being marginalised and the other group because they are the majority having a field day on the hot seat, it was that time that the PDP constitution came in handy. 
 
Recently, an ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives headed by Farouk Lawan submitted its report on subsidy probe. What do you feel about the report?
First of all as a legislator, the House of Representatives has done a good job in the sense that setting up a probe is part of its oversight function and in this case they have done a very good job. But I am of the opinion that the rot in the oil industry did not start from 2009.  It started before 2009 and if you want a holistic approach you would have started from perhaps the Obasanjo regime so that you can get the proper picture of what is happening because this is an isolated case taking it from 2009 to date. If we can identify so much rot as a result of this little probe, you can imagine what it would have been if it had started from when this whole thing started. So my take on this is that it would have started much earlier. It would have been catastrophic if it would have started earlier. 
 
Even in its limitedness what should the president or those responsible do with the report?
Usually when the legislature goes into such probes their reports will be sent to the executive arm of government and when it gets there they on their own try to look at the report and if there is anything that is found wanting in the report, the next thing is for them to transfer the case to the judiciary and they will finally determine whether there are culprits and if there are, what punishment to met-out.
 
Apart from the subsidy probe, there are other probes on the power sector, the BPE and so on. What do you think should be done with these reports?
You see I don’t want to subscribe to the fact that the executive arm of government will deliberately sweep any probe under the carpet. Do not forget if the legislature gives a report the executive will not take the report hook line and sinker. They have to study it and sometimes studying it may take a long period. Sometimes it may not, but I think Nigerians don’t understand the fact that when a report is submitted from the legislature to the executive, the executive has the right to also study that report and a complicated report with so many gray areas will require thorough investigation before you take action and I think we must give the executive arm of government some time to do that. The general impression is that it’s going to be swept under the carpet but this situation is such that if they want trouble they will sweep it under the carpet but I don’t think they want trouble, they will study it and take appropriate action.
 
The Save Nigeria Group is planning to stage a protest over the subsidy probe. What would be your advice to them?
I think there is nothing wrong if a group of people who think that their action would accelerate corrective actions, I don’t see anything wrong with that. Remember they were on the streets protesting against the unfairness to Goodluck Jonathan and if they think there is a serious situation that requires immediate action, I don’t see anything wrong. But I think that they must exercise patience. When was this report submitted? Like what we said earlier on, you submit a report to the executive it is not expected that the executive will just react immediately based on the report you submitted, they have to study it. So if the Save Nigeria Group are thinking that just because the report was submitted about a week ago and there is no action from the executive they will go to the street I don’t think that is fair enough. They should give the executive some time to study this report and if after studying the report, they don’t take any action, then we will have a cause to protest.
 
As a Niger Deltan, Bayelsa in particular, would you support the president to go for election in 2015 given the present state of things in Nigeria?
If the president after his first tenure thinks he has done enough  to satisfy Nigerians, why not? It’s alright but if I were him, for now, I would not talk about contesting elections. I would concentrate on vital areas like the power sector, Nigerians are suffering; you see there is no light and I just came back from Bayelsa State yesterday and we’ve not bought diesel so there is no light; it’s a serious thing. He should concentrate on that. Look if Jonathan can get electricity right, if he can get good roads and correct the educational sector, I’m sure that Nigerians will even call him back.
 
But how can he do it, with the magnitude of corruption in the public sector which is supposed to supervise the implementation of all these projects?
He must put machinery in place and I think corruption is one of the things he should look into. Corruption is one of the areas he should concentrate to ensure that those bad eggs are no longer there. For example how would a group of people collide and stop a pensioner who worked for his money from getting what is his, that is very wrong and it is criminal, it is morally wrong. Like the reports, the police reports and the pensioner’s report, though they’ve not been completed those are the things he should give priority if such reports are sent to him he should quickly investigate those things and if they are correct, he should bring the people to book and that is the way you can stop corruption, if you see somebody who is corrupt you should make him pay for it and it will serve as a deterrent to others.
He should also concentrate on trying to bring constant electricity and also the education sector is absolutely in total disarray he should try and correct these things. Though he may not get it in the next two years but when he moves forward people will see it because it is not a hidden thing and they will give him another chance and more time to progress.       

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