…be obscurantive or to be gymnosophist in my communication.
There has been no deliberate attempt at all to obfuscate or envelope my audience in a state of orga moga. No no no no no, far, far from it. Like I have always said, it is just that by the grace of God, by the grace of the great grand architect of the universe, I put my nose to the grindstone, and I am sort of an omnivorous reader. I read practically everything that comes across my way. I am sure you can see here now ‘The mystical life of Jesus’. This may be outside the purview of an ordinary lawmaker or a lawyer.
If you are a polyvalent and an elliptical reader, chances are that you are bound to come across one or two idiolects and if you make it as your pastime , to be able to know every new word you come across, what it stands for, they are part and parcel of you, and when you speak, at times they come like the rattle of a gun and that goes beyond my control, but to say that I, Honourable Patrick Obahiagbon have deliberately set out to mystify my audience is far from it.
It is an opportunity for me again to use the platform of Sahara reporters, a latitudinarian platform to render an unreserved apologia to my audience if at any point in time; they find it a little bit difficult to comprehend what I am saying. I want to apologise that it is not intentionally at all excepting you are saying that I should be deaf and dumb, excepting you are saying that I should not speak. You know, so an apology again. I can’t stop reading.
SR: Hmm, having said that, when we look at your contribution on the floor of the house, you have been very – you have been quite hard when it comes to the state of the nation. I remember one of your contributions during the disappearance of the former president, Late Musa Yar’ Adua. Being a member of the PDP, you know, how did you feel at that point in time, going contrary to the general feeling of members of the political party to take an opposing view?
HPO: No, no, no no, you see as a parliamentarian you have more than one, or two or three constituencies, you have loyalty to your party, you have loyalty to the nation, and you have your loyalty to your conscience. And for me, I have never found myself in any quandary as to the fact that when there is a mismatch, when there is an interpose between loyalty to your party, or loyalty to your nation or loyalty to your conscience, you must tilt the scale in favour of the nation, you must tilt the scale in favour of your conscience. So for me, even when the entire national assembly at that point in time, both the house of reps and the senate, took a position that it was not the business of the national assembly to call on late President Yar Adua to transmit a letter to the national assembly, my mind, my conscience wriggled and I thought we were just being political halleluiah boys. So at my expense, I called a world press conference and I said no, no, no, true, yes the provisions of the constitution made it discretionary but the national assembly could call on the president to exercise that discretion in favour of public safety, in favour of the stability of democracy and once I aired that view, irrespective of the fact that it ran against the grain of the leadership of the national assembly, irrespective of the fact that it ran against the grain of my political party , I became an happy man, and for me my happiness is what matters to me and that was why again, when we were told that a presidential jet flew in the late president into the country without the imprimatur of the then acting president, I came again on the floor of the parliament to say no, no, no, no. I see this as a veritable bugaboo which must be pooh pooh-ed, by all compos mentis Homo sapiens.
SR: And was that why you crossed to the Action Congress of Nigeria, because I am made aware that you have left the PDP for the CAN
HPO: Yes, I am a member now of the Action Congress of Nigeria, Edo State. That itself has generated a life controversy of officio. But the way I look at this matter is that I take succour in Plato. Plato said that at all points in time in any democracy, the people and only the people must remain the philosopher kings, and I find myself in Edo State where a preponderant number of my constituents had tergiversated from the People’s Democratic party to the Action Congress of Nigeria, for no reason other than the fact that the comrade governor himself, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has given meaning to governance. Edo state that was in a state of economic quagmire, political phantasmagoria, and social stupor was gradually and is being gradually transmogrified into a state of infrastructural El Dorado. So you see a dominant number of my constituents adjusting to the Action Congress of Nigeria and I can’t stay here, I can’t stay here Kayode, to begin to admire the bridges in Abuja and pretend not to see the yearnings, not to listen to the yearnings and aspirations of my people.
SR: What if you opponents call it political opportunism, that Oshiomhole and the Action Congress of Nigeria, being the party of the day...the ideology of the PDP to the ideology of the ACN, what do you have in common with the Action Congress in terms of policy?
HPO: What is the ideological difference? What is the ideological difference between the PDP and the ACN? What is the ideological difference between the PDP, the ACN and other political parties? If there is any ideological difference at all, it is but a twiddly dormant twiddledee. No, no basic, no basic ideological difference. It is all elitist, a band of elitists, gathering together, you know, for the sole purpose of acquiring political power, to see how that political power could be deployed, either in service of the nation or in service of self… you know, so if the ACN political platform for me is the platform that has become the bedrock upon which the economic status…
Those are the issues, ten it would become very, very difficult…but do we have political parties in Nigeria? I really don’t think we have political parties in Nigeria. It’s like you telling me now that we are celebrating 50 years of democracy. No, no, no, no, no! We are celebrating 50 years of civilian rule, for example. It is not democracy; we are not a democratic country yet. We are a civilian country, yes.
I initially saw that as a policy that did not reflect the reality of the moment, until the President himself explained that this was not a process he started, that the three presidential jets bought, had a faucet origau in the administration of the late president Umaru Yar’Adua, and he only saw into a finishing point. That again gave me some mental sanity, but again, I still would have thought that that would never happen at all because even if it happened in the regime, even if the process was started in the regime of the late President Umaru Yar Adua, in line with the consciousness of the moment, one really would have thought that Mr president would have stopped that exercise.
SR: There has been a lot of outcry even internationally about the allowance allocated to Nigerian lawmakers. Do you agree that the money being paid to lawmakers is outrageous?
HPO: I will say two things here. One, I will react to what constitutes the salaries and allowances of lawmakers. Two, I will react to a lot of misinformation in the public domain. For example, when you talk about constituency allowances, which is being dubbed and stigmatized – ‘jumbo pay’, it will interest you to know that honourable members do not know the contractors that execute projects in their respective constituencies. It is not as if to say that you put in the hands of the honourable members, X Y Z sum of amount and say, ‘go and execute constituency projects’, and they pocket this money. No, no, no, no – that is a lot of misinformation in the public domain. But again, as to whether the salaries and allowances of parliamentarians reflect the austere, reflect the harsh, reflect the aspartic, caustic and corrosive nature of the Nigerian infrastructure today , I want to say that I am emparimaterial with not just the international public, I am emparimaterial with the Nigerian public that it is something all stakeholders, it is something the Nigerian parliamentarians will want to sit down again and assess, because after all , we cannot live over and above the Nigerian society .
SR: Now let us speak about the leader of the House of Reps, Dimeji Bankole. He is probably one of the most controversial speakers we’ve had in recent times, and you know the case of the legislators that were literally beaten up or rough handled on the floor of the house. Were you at that sitting and what position did you take then? And the issue of corruption in the leadership of the House of Reps, are your members doing anything about it? It seems that not a lot is coming out of the investigations that are conducted
HPO: Let me say that it was unfair and it was a malodorous saga cum gargantuan gaga that that incident happened at all on the floor of the house. It was bestial, it was despicable, and it was one of the low moments of the national assembly. I do not believe and I still do not believe that what was meted out to those who alleged certain facts and issues against the leadership of the house, would have been outright suspension for the rest of their tenure because if you look at it, this is a democracy. Parliament is supposed to be a costos moros of the people having superintendence over all bridges contras boroughs moor. Parliament is supposed to be the watchdog of society. How do we have the moral bastion? Where is the moral and sociological wicket for us to continue to formulate, for us to continue to declaim what we see as executive excesses and dodoisms, when we think within parliamentary precincts and confines. Parliamentarians make certain allegations and all you can do is to put them on suspension? I am not looking at the merits or demerits of those allegations now because he who alleges must prove. That is for those who alleged those facts. But the way and manner parliament reacted in an otto von bismarck approach, with an iron fisted approach, and gave the impression as they do give the impression that there is something to hide. And I want to use this forum like I have done before to call the leadership of the house to have a rethink of the suspension of those members. If they are unable to prove their case Quod erat demonstrandum to a fixation of quod era farcientum, at that stage, you can now subject them to the ethics and privileges committee of the house, but a mere allegation? You have not given them time to prove it…? (Fade out)
…interesting developments, unfortunately and sardonically and lugubriously so, we do not seem to have a very efficacious and potent political armada in form of an opposition political party in Nigeria just now, otherwise, this was the opportune time for Nigerians to have an alternative government to the People’s democratic party. Because I foresee a lot of implosions flowing here-from, and in any case, in any case, Kayode, that 50 years of Nigeria’s independence, we are still apostatizing the faucet aurigae of a presidential aspirant, that is to say where the presidential aspirant comes from, and not his merits, not what I can do, not his political pronunciamento, shows that there is something wrong with Nigeria’s federalism, shows that we need to re-negotiate the character of the Nigerian state. What is zoning after all? To me, I am less perturbed whether a south southerner, a south-south man becomes president or a man from Sokoto becomes president, because, after all, there is one common denominator; - the common denominator is that it is a government of the elites, by the elites, and for the elites. The northerners have ruled the country for over 30 years, what have they used their 30 years of rulership – have they used their 30 years of rulership to transform Aminu Kano talakawas, have they used their 30 years to transform the modus Vivendi of the rag tag and the bob tail in the northern political, socio and economic pathosphere ? When President Obasanjo from the South West was president of the federal republic of Nigeria, to what extent did that enhance the welfare of the hoi polloi in the Oduduwa republic? So, zoning is a contrivance by the elitist political class to have access to power to continue the pillaging and plundering of oil for their own egocentric benefit, to continue to masturbate their selves in the corridors of power. If a man from X, from Langtang state becomes president of the country, it does not affect the economic fortunes either way of a man from Langtang state. Poverty is poverty, whether in the north or in the south, dilapidated state of infrastructure exists whether in the north or in the south. Bad healthcare delivery system exists whether in the north or in the south. So, all of this zoning is all a contrivance of by the Nigerian elites and unfortunately we seem to be falling n to this trap and we want to rely and ask of very sensitive and very dialectical and very clinical and soul searching platforms such as Sahara Reporters to continue to unveil these masquerades. It does not serve the interest of our people other than serve the interest of the elites. It shows that Nigerians are still falling assoc deep into the aqua of what Papa Jeremiah - Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the canafe philosopher said when he described Nigeria as a mere geographical expression, 50 years after independence, we are still talking about zoning, is reflective of the fact that Nigeria still wallows in a state of menicisetal statetism , cankerous tribalism, ethnocentric chauvinism , syphilitic parochialism, epileptic nepotism, cataleptic parapoism and state brigandish, of the bluest dye…