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15 May 2016

Udende Blasts His Party, Says PDP Administration Caused Present Decay

Honourable Emmanuel Udende represents Katsina-Ala/Ukum/Logo federal constituency of Benue State on the platform of  the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In this interview with ANDREW OOTA, he commends President Muhammadu Buhari over the decision to remove subsidy from the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

Presidency has announced complete removal of fuel subsidy and have gone ahead to peg the pump price at N145, what is your response?     

We have enjoyed petrol subsidy for a long time and we all are also aware of the corruption that has been bedevilling that sector, if you go outside Abuja you, will discover that it is only people in Abuja and Lagos that are buying fuel at N86 per litre.

The petrol stations in my constituency are selling at N200 per litre. Even last week when I travelled home, it was sold at N170 a litre in my village, that is even with the subsidy. So I think what Mr President has taken  the right step in the right direction.

In 2012, the Jonathan administration removed subsidy and Nigerians poured on the streets in protest, do you think Nigerians will accept it this time around?

Yes, you see, the problem here is not about political party, this is a bye partisan matter.

It is not the issue of Jonathan or Buhari. As you can see, this problem has been there for so long. Now, if this is going to solve this lingering fuel crisis, then let it be, because once you allow everybody to import fuel, I think it will open up the market and things will become normal in this country.

The 2016 budget was delayed, but eventually passed and signed, what is your expectation in terms of implementation?

Well, there must be due process in everything that we do and I think the President has the right to insist that things must be done properly. Coming to the National Assembly, I still believe that the lawmakers have the right to insist that things be done properly. You see, the problem here is that Nigerians like apportioning blames to their  leaders, they don’t want to look at the issues critically, they still believe that this is white without checking whether it is true or not. The budget that was presented to the National Assembly was just an estimate that is what the law says and what comes out of it from the National Assembly is the budget but the impression out there in the public is that the National Assembly padded the budget, that is why President Buhari insisted on having certain things done before he will sign it. I still thank God that at last it has been signed. I want Nigerians to know that the power to make the budget is with the National Assembly not the Executive.What the law says is that the Executive will submit the estimate to the National Assembly and what they submitted is just the estimate and the estimate is not law, is what comes out from the National Assembly that makes it become law. For example, in United States of America, the Government was shot down at a point under the leadership of President Obama three times because there was a disagreement between the Executive and the Legislature over budget, so budget delay is normal, Nigerian sometimes make things look as if the whole country have collapsed. So I want the public to know that the power of budget depends solely on National Assembly.

Do you agree with the public opinion that the National Assembly is the number one corrupt institution  in the country?

I don’t agree with that perception, I am in six house committees, nobody has changed or added anything in the budget, but like I said, we have the right to utter the budget for example; if we budgeted something as project ‘A’ we can equally change it and bring it to project ‘B’, that is what the constitution says, and that is our right, but you see once you do it they take it that you are doing it for selfish reasons. The roads we have in the country today are bad and  my state, Benue is a classical example of that, 90 per cent of the roads there are in bad conditions, the Federal Ministry of Works did not do any work on them, assuming that the National Assembly decides to spend Five Hundred Million in one of those roads could that be seen as budget padding? You see we represent the people who are in the grass root, we know the problems our people are facing, that is why the law allows us to do the budgeting not the executive. So to say, that we the Lawmakers in the National Assembly are the number one corrupt agency to me is a misconception, and a miss understanding of the law.

People have come out to accuse President Buhari of not being sincere in his fight against corruption, some say that he is only witch hunting his enemies and the opposition parties, what is your view?

Who are the architects of corruption? Is it not the PDP? Was  the APC at the National level during the last administration? They were not, but you can’t even say that Buhari is fighting only the opposition parties because some of these military chiefs that are not in any party yet they are being arrested and detained for corruption and money laundry, what of all this bankers that have been arraigned in court by EFCC which party are they? So I believe that Buhari is doing a good job, is just that the set of people involved were those that served in the last regime of the PDP. I am a PDP member but I still believe that Buhari is not witch hunting anybody.

Your party, the People’s Democratic Party,(PDP),  talks about taking back political power in 2019, how realistic is this comment? 

Well, let’s look at what happens at the convention, I learnt that some of the party members are planning to do a parallel convention, members like Former Ministers and BoT, let’s wait and see what comes out after the convention before we can make any comment, I wish them Good Luck.

Would you support those who believe that President Buhari’s government  is yet to fulfil campaign promises?

My take on that is simple, if wind storm comes and blows away this building and the building collapsed, it will take time for you to gather the blocks together before you can start building another house. This is what is happening, the decay in governance has been so much, and the damage has been so much so it will take time for Mr President to put the country in good shape. So I urged Nigerians to be patient with Buhari.
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