National Assembly As Symbol Of Democracy Must Do Better – Akume

National Assembly As Symbol Of Democracy Must Do Better – Akume

Sesugh Akume is the African Democratic Congress (ADC) candidate representing the people of Katsina-Ala/Ukum/Logo Federal Constituency of Benue State. He spoke with CHIKA MEFOR on why the National Assembly must stand up to uphold the country’s democracy and his plans for his constituency if elected. Excerpts:

Who is Sesugh Akume?

I’m a public policy analyst, and have been engaged in up to 20 public interest litigations to fix anomalies in our system, including challenging obnoxious provisions in our laws at the federal at state levels. My orientation and approach is to get the system to work, and also to organise citizens to wake up and play their role in building a society that works for us all.

What is your unique selling point? Why should your constituency vote for you?

My understanding and approach to issues. Our campaign website,, says it all. What I have on offer, what I will do, what I won’t do, and why. It also has a brief of my track record, etc. Nobody I know in my constituency running for the office has a manifesto written down of what they offer, I’m not even talking about a website. I mean, something as mundane as that. I have stated that for my constituency, in the end, I want to be assessed by how close we are to attaining the SDGs and how much the quality of life has improved. I also reference 23 ways quality of life can be measured.

It means, it is beneath me to for instance take pictures of classroom blocks, bore holes, etc and share as ‘achievements’.

What special legislative needs does Benue state stand in need of?

My Sankera (Katsina-Ala, Ukum, Logo) constituency (Benue) is the largest yam producer in the world, which is an established and verifiable fact. However, there’s the obnoxious Export (Prohibition) Act 1989 which makes yam export punishable by life imprisonment! Can you believe that? Since when have yams become cocaine.

Then we face insecurity by Tiv terrorists harassing our people, Fulani terrorists (whom are referred to in the media as ‘herdsmen’) and even from the military. These are issues that need to be addressed and put an end to once and for all.

There are also opportunities that have been passing us by. For instance, can you imagine that the African Development Bank (AfDB) set up the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) at $520 million and Benue is not among the 9 beneficiary states! You know that is unconscionable. And so many issues that need fair representation over.

What do you think are the federal legislative encumbrances that you are coming to address?

I have sued the National Assembly before over issues of budgeting for agencies of government that don’t have any legislative backing, voice votes as against electronic voting, NASS websites without all Nigerian laws on them, absenteeism, etc. I have advocated against the pay which I think makes no meaning as it is too high (where on earth is a legislator paid more than the MD of a bank?), absenteeism, poor oversight, etc.

I think the National Assembly can do better. And it needs to look inwards. It is the symbol of democracy anywhere and must simply do better.

What grey areas are you looking to address?

If you look at our campaign website, you’d notice we have 2 broad themes: the constituency, and national agenda.

For my constituency, I wish to first and foremost address the issue of security and safety; then agribusiness, infrastructure, integration, opportunities (local and international), fair representation, and quality of life.

Nationally, I wish to concentrate on the National Assembly itself, the electoral process, justice/injustices, correcting bad laws that are affecting us presently and enacting good ones that touch lives directly. Then addressing issues pertaining to institutions and the public service, minority rights, and deepening democracy.

All 15 areas to be addressed through law-making, representation i.e. bringing the issues to the attention of whoever is concerned to resolve them, supervising and overseeing the affairs of the government to ensure it’s doing its work and well, appropriating funds adequately for the work to get done. Then lobbying, advocacy, and litigation. Any or a combination of these will be deployed.

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