From Gyang Bere, Jos
Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Anti-corruption and member representing Jos South/Jos East Federal Constituency of Plateau State in the House of Representatives, Dachung Musa Bagos said Nigerians need a President with a requisite experience to tackle the current challenges facing the country. Bagos, who returned to contest the House of Representatives election in 2023 noted that zoning has deprived the country of the desired dividends of democracy. In this interview, he spoke on various issues including the type of president Nigeria needs in 2023.
You are Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Anti-corruption, are you satisfied with the manner in which the Anti-craft agencies are handling issues of corruption in Nigeria?
The first major role in addressing corruption is prevention but government in, government out has always looked at corruption with a political face to score political point, be it PDP or APC. The fight against corruption is not about waiting for you to be corrupt or when I don’t like your face, I start looking for your files, no. Fight against corruption is systematic, you need to put system checks that whosoever comes into office will be able to follow it because the system checks whosoever is in office and there are procedures to that. It is very sad to hear that N80 billion is allegedly missing but in developed countries, before N500 will miss, there is a red flag, talk more of N1 billion or N2 billion. The N80 billion was not taken based on one document, it is as a result of accumulation, therefore if the system is working, before N1 billion is missing, there will be a lot of red flags. The system of fighting corruption in Nigeria is quite different and in fairness, I have worked with the anti-corruption agencies and we have discussed this on several occasions. The anti-corruption agencies are ready to do their work if given the necessary support. Go and check the budget of the anti-corruption agencies, as a deputy chairman, House committee, how much is the ICPC allocated to fight corruption; when other agencies are getting billions of naira but ICPC will be given N300 million to fight corruption in a year. They only rely on international donor agencies to assist us fight our problems; it will not work. Even at the National Assembly when we want to allocate funds to the anti-corruption agencies, you will get to know that from the Budget office, you will see a recommendation that ICPC will not get more than N300 to N400 million and when the National Assembly wishes to add some funds to the ICPC and the EFCC, you will hear talks like do you have money to add to them. But if there is a strong political will on the fight against corruption in Nigeria, we will go a long way in addressing this issue. President Muhammadu Buhari came into power in 2015 on the mantra to fight corruption, everybody was very careful and scared due to the perception he came with, and the rating of corruption in Nigeria at that particular moment or within his first year in office reduced because of the perception. Nobody knew what he was going to bring to the table then; if you check the Transparency International Index, you will realise that corruption reduced in Nigeria within the first one year of President Muhammadu Buhari in office. But after one year, nobody went to jail, people began to do things and get away with them and so people returned to their normal acts. So, we cannot fight corruption in Nigeria through perception but what we need is to put in place a workable, practical system that will checkmate everybody. When government started TSA, there was a serious check on corruption but because there was no review and constant study of the system, people started beating the process. To me, the anti-corruption agencies whether they are doing well or not, they are underfunded; the anti-corruption agencies do not have adequate capacity to fight corruption because they are underfunded. The anti-corruption agencies only go after whoever his corruption tendencies are too glaring and that is sad. But when they are funded and the system checks from point A to Z, even if you beat the system, they will certainly get hold of you. But most of the corrupt cases are on the basis of allegation without substance; therefore, we must strive to prevent corruption by instituting a system that checks everybody.
Will you say PDP is fair enough to Nigerians for taking their Presidential candidate from the North particularly that President Muhammadu Buhari is about to complete his two tenure of eight years from the region?
Well, one of the things that has hindered the delivery of dividends of democracy in this part of the world is the so-called zoning system, although the concept was conceived for fairness but we have not been able to sit down and articulate the zoning in fairness but we just believed that if the South produced the president today, the North should produce tomorrow. Politicians have used the zoning system to distract Nigerians from discussing critical and important issues. Nobody is talking about the failure of the APC government; these are critical issues that Nigerians should be discussing today; the present government is not talking about its failure to provide critical infrastructure to the people, rather it has diverted attention to who will be the successor of President Buhari. If Nigerians had dividends of democracy in terms of security of the nation, good infrastructural development, steady power supply, potable water, good health care system, education and industrialization of the country among others to a point where everyone will have employment, no one will care about where the President comes from in 2023. But because we do not deliver the desired dividends of democracy to the people and when the time to start asking questions about what you have done to the people comes, everybody will now rush to the table to start asking for a zoning system and forgetting to talk and discuss the real issues. To me, any candidate that has solution to the problem of insecurity in Nigeria, any candidate that discusses issues that will advance development in Nigeria, that is where my support goes. I think we should bring in candidates to contest presidential election based on issues and based on credibility. One thing we did during the PDP convention is that there were aspirants across the zones; the candidate that was able to put issues on the table that convinces the delegates was the candidate that won. I am not looking at Atiku Abubakar as someone from the North, I am looking at Atiku as a candidate that has solution to the problem we are facing and that is what the delegates looked at. So, whoever convinced me that he has solution to the current challenges, the people will go for you. You should not be canvassing for support because you are from this zone or that zone but it should be based on what you can offer the country. We should discuss politics on issues and not religion, ethnicity, sectionalism; and what we have failed to give Nigerians is the inability to discuss politics on issues. When we caged Nigerians on discussing politics on religion, ethnicity, sectionalism, then we have lost it.
Do you think your governorship candidate in Plateau is credible enough to win the 2023 election?
Yes, Caleb Mutfwang is credible and competent enough; that was why he was elected overwhelmingly by the delegates. If you look at the governorship race, there was someone that bought form from the Northern zone although he stepped down at the point of voting. So, what played put during the primary election was an issue of credibility, he was able to convince the delegates that he will reclaim and rebuild Plateau to the glory of God and humanity. Therefore, PDP candidates across board from the President, the governor are qualified; they are credible at all levels and we have hope in them. What is left for us as a people is to carry their manifesto to remind them of their promises when they get to office.
The clamour for state police has been one issue that Nigerians have pushed forward without result up to this point, what are your thoughts with regards to state police?
Before I get into office in 2019, the state police has been one of the issues so dear to my heart; it was one of my campaign agenda that I believed it will address the issue of insecurity in Nigeria and we will not shy away from it. But politicians are afraid that once there is state police, the governors who will be in charge will use the institution against their opponents but the primary reason is to address insecurity and if that will be achieved, then we need to channel our energy towards that direction. The state police will be a recruitment of people within the communities; all the officers will be known faces who also know everybody within the community but when you have people who are not familiar with the terrain where they are working, you will not get the desired result. Therefore, if we have people from communities who can identify who did what, that will improve our security situation. Today, people are beginning to believe the vigilante groups more than formal security officers because they are known people who are in charge of their own communities; any small alarm they know where it is coming from. Also, State Police will be able to gather intelligence through the traditional rulers, community leaders and even the religious leaders because they are part of the community and this is the kind of policing we had during the first and second Republic. This form of policing has the capacity to identify whoever has stolen a chicken in the next compound but now, human beings are kidnapped without knowing who is responsible; therefore, the need for state police in Nigeria is very necessary particularly at this critical moment.
There appears to be a very serious ecological problem in your constituency, how do you intend to tackle these challenges?
Yes, there have been a very serious ecological problems in different parts of my constituency, particularly Jos East Local Government Area and I have discovered that even the state government may not be able to fix the road network in the area but there is usually a succour to some extent. I am working with my colleagues to bring in federal establishments into the area and ensure that ecological fund which has been set aside by the Federal Government is accessed year in, year out. Lobbying for the establishment of federal institutions in the area has been part of the bills sponsored by me and the one that almost scaled through was the Federal Polytechnic in Zandi which we believe that if that had happened, definitely, the people will have access road. This has also affected the issue of rapid response when it comes to issues of insecurity in the area and we believe that if these areas have good road network, the co-indigenes will start residing in their villages instead of running into the urban areas and government must take a deliberate step to upgrade Jos East into an Urban town to depopulate the population in Jos North Local Government Area. We are reaching out to ensure that some ecological funds are released; I can assure you that we have started working on that with the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives who is from Plateau State. Once those funds are approved, they will be released to the state government and that is why we are not laying emphasis on our different political parties but governance that will bring development to our people and that is why we tend to put aside our party sentiments and work for our people because that is what we will be remembered for. Plateau was able to access about N1.2 billion ecological fund in 2020 and 2021 for the axis of Southern Plateau and we are working hard to get ecological fund released for Plateau North where there was a lot of mining activities and that is why we have always advocated for the issue of continuity in governance.
What should your constituents expect when you return to the National Assembly?
We still have lot to offer Nigeria in the next one year, people should not just say we are candidates and so they are waiting on what we will do in 2023. The most critical parts of this tenure is the last one year we still have in office; a lot of legislative activities are ongoing, we have bills particularly in my constituency where we are working on the conversation of National Veterinary Research Institute Vom (NVIR) into a Veterinary University, that is one of the bills that I am working on now. I am going to push this in the floor of the House in the next few months. We should not just come up with bills because we must sponsor bills but we must bring out bills that have direct bearing on the lives of the people. I believe in finishing well, I believe in impacting my people positively to equip the next generation. We are also looking at the rate of unemployment in this country which are issues that need serious attention. I feel journalists need to start provoking positive thinking among the candidates, be it President, Governors to find out how they will address this issue. Anybody who says he will address unemployment by giving out jobs in Ministries and Agencies of government, that person has failed because it is not possible for government Ministries and Departments to absorb all graduates that our universities are turning out; therefore, the only way to address the issues of unemployment in Nigeria is to embark on massive industrialization.
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