From Gyang Bere, Jos
Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Human Right, Edward Pwajok (SAN), has taken a swipe at northern politicians who are jostling for the Presidency in 2019.
The lawmaker, who represents Jos South/Jos East federal constituency of Plateau state at the National Assembly, said the clamour for a shift of the presidency from the North -West in 2019 was too early and was capable of distracting the Buhari’s administration from providing dividends of democracy. He said instead of overheating the polity, politicians should channel their energy towards praying for the quick recovery of the President.
Pwajok who recently dumped the PDP for the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), claimed that he was stampeded out of the PDP.
There has been internal wrangling in the APC since the election of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara as Speaker of the House of Representatives and now there seem to be a major crack in the APC. Don’t you think the party will collapse before 2019?
I won’t refer to those issues as crises in the party, I will call them issues of different perspectives that are been brought to bear in a democratic manner for the progress of the country. We have three arms of government, the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary, if we just say yes to everything that comes from the executive on the account that APC is the party that forms the executive, it has majority in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, Nigerians will not be happy with us, they will brand us rubberstamp and say we don’t know our work. Nigerians should commend the National Assembly because despite the fact that APC is in the majority, they stand up to some of the policies of President Muhammadu Buhari. This shows that there are checks and balance and that is what has further endeared some of us to the APC, it means there is no mafia in the APC, it means there is no gang up against the people of Nigeria, it means people are free to express their opinion.
I recall what happen in the Senate and House of Reps, the members freely elected whom they wanted as their leaders and to the credit of President Buhari, he didn’t interfere, he embraced both the Senate President and the Speaker. Before he traveled on this last medical treatment, he called the Senate President and the Speaker and told them his intention to travel for medical checkup and only God knows what they discussed but I am sure they discussed many important matters of the state, that is how it ought to be and I do not see it in a negative light.
For those who are saying there is crisis in the APC, they are only imagining things; it only shows that there are some vitalities and robust debate and discussion within the APC, it shows that there is different perspectives, you don’t expect them to have only one perspective to issues, we have Christians and Muslims in APC, we have northerners, we have southerners, we have majorities and minorities and all kinds of people with different perspectives, and we have to contend with all these different issues, how we will resolve all these issues in a peaceful manner and amicably is what will make the polity stronger.
There has been debate as to whether President Muhammadu Buhari should contest in 2019 or not. Already, North East and North Central geo-political zones are clamouring for a shift of the Presidency to their zones, do you want Buhari back as President in 2019?
Well, as one of the newest member of APC, I will want to study the political terrain and familiarize myself with people in the party, then I will see the contending forces and I will know what to say. But my personal opinion is that it is too early to debate on that, we just transmitted the 2017 budget to the acting President to assent to it so that laudable programmes contained in the budget are implemented to uplift the standard of living of Nigerians that is upper most in my mind more than the issues of 2019.
We still have two years ahead of us and for now let’s pray for the recovery to good health of the President so that he can come and continue with the good jobs that he was doing before. There is some level of peace and stability in the country; he has been giving bail-out to states and Paris Club Funds have been released to the states so that they will be able to pay salaries, that shows that the President mean well for Nigerians, lets support the President and pray for him to get well, I think if the country focus on that, it will be better for us than debating on 2019.
We should support the man who is now the Acting President with prayers and good advice so that he will run the country well because there are so many issues in Nigeria that are on his table for him to attend to for the betterment of Nigeria; if we leave all important issues like the budget, power and energy, salaries and other developmental issues and over-heat the polity with talks about 2019, that will distract attention of government from the issues of the day and that will not be in the interest of the people, therefore people should stop talking about Presidency in 2019 for now and pray God to spare our lives, it is only those who are alive that will be relevant in 2019 and we shall cross the bridge when we get there.
As the Chairman, House Committee on Human Right, is the anti-corruption crusade of the Federal Government within the ambit of the law?
There have been some disagreements which some people are misunderstanding. The last time the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives spoke at a function, they offered some advice on how the anti-corruption battle should be prosecuted but some people misconstrued their statement and started reading different ulterior motives into them, insinuating that the National Assembly was not comfortable with the anti-corruption fight of the Federal Government.
All of us have agreed that corruption is a very serious disease in this country which needs to be tackled headlong. The only problem is the methods of tackling this menace which need to be agreed on. To me, instead of name calling, let’s look at the genuineness of the advice coming from any quarters and use what we think will help the course because if we are to start doing some ex-ray based on professional forensic analysis of anti-corruption battle, some people will misunderstand me. Now that I have joined the ruling APC and being a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), I will offer some advise outside the glare of the media and I hope it will be used for the benefit of the anti-corruption battle and the country. My sincere advice for now is that all hands must be on deck in the fight against corruption.
But some people feel the government is witch hunting perceived political foes?
We have the courts, anybody who feel the anti-corruption battle is vindictive should go to court, there is a fundamental human Right enforcing procedures rules where the court will ask for your release or event slam some damages against those agencies for either malicious prosecution or even force imprisonment or detaining someone without cause.
Do you think the whistle blowing policy is yielding the desire result?
Yes, we have the millions and billions of naira that have been recovered from corrupt persons. The money are now in the CBN treasury on the account of whistle blowers, to some extent, it is a good policy, but it still need to be fine- tuned.
What enticed you to All Progressive Congress (APC) that made you dumped PDP, which offered you a platform to be elected to the House of Representatives?
It is people that motivated me to go into politics and those who elected me to the National Assembly mandated me to defect to APC, it wasn’t entirely my decision. I could have rejected their call but they have also been observing what is happening in the PDP, I and my supporters have been sidelined in the PDP from the ward, local Government and up to the state level, and a decision came that if the PDP in Plateau does not want us, we should pitch tent with any political party.
Also, we are aware that the PDP has been in disarray for a very long time despite the best effort by some prominent leaders of the party to reconcile the warring parties. Former President Goodluck Jonathan intervened and it did not yielded any result, event here on the Plateau, some men of good will had attempted to broker peace and it didn’t work, principally because some people have made up their mind that they don’t want to see some of us in the party and we felt it is democracy and there is choice, it is there in the constitution and we must not be somewhere by force, we took a decision that we should leave PDP and all my supporters unanimously felt that APC was a viable platform because they have also observed the good work of the APC led Federal Government and the rescue administration of Governor Simon Lalong in Plateau, we are witnesses to what is happening on the Plateau where there was no peace before but now there is peace, civil servants were not being paid regularly before but now they receive their salaries promptly, including pension benefits, projects that were abandoned by previous administrations, this government has taken them up and some have been completed and commissioned based on available resources, and people said they have seen a focused administration and there is need to join them in taking Plateau State to a higher level.
You will realize that during the 2015 General Election, the Northern Senatorial District in Plateau, particularly the Berom did not vote APC and the people took a decision that we cannot be left out of Plateau State because we belong to all the ethnic groups in the state and let people not see the Berom people as ethnic force that is antagonistic to other interest in the state. The defection also is a way of building the bridge with other ethnic groups to take the state to an enviable height.
How ready are you to contend with those willing to drag you to court over your defection?
I am very ready for them, I am waiting, let them come; I know the provision of the constitution.
The APC government in Plateau need the support of Plateau north, which is the strong hold of PDP, particularly Berom who did not vote APC in 2015, what strategies will you use to entice the people?
My coming is to demonstrate to the Governor that his support cut across the entire state and not just the Southern and Central Senatorial zones but that we in the north have also keyed into the rescue vision of his administration, we cannot afford to be left behind and we will join hands with him to ensure that our people receive the desire dividend of democracy and sustain current peace on the Plateau.