There is vacuum in the Presidency – Hon Gaiya

There is vacuum in the Presidency – Hon Gaiya
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 Honourable Godfrey Ali Gaiya is a two-term member of House of Representatives, 2007 to 2015. He chaired the House Committee on Sports during the 7th National Assembly (2011-2015) and sponsored many bills. In an exclusive interview with  Mariam Sanni of AljazirahNigeria, Gaiya, who represented Jabba/Zango Federal Constituency in Kaduna State, spoke on burning issues like restructuring of Nigeria, Igbo quit notice by Arewa Youth Forum, the chances of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, in 2019 among other salient issues.


Can we meet you sir?

My name is Godfrey Ali Gaiya, I was a two-term member of the House of Representatives, and I represented Jabba/ Zango Federal Constituency from Kaduna state and along the line I chaired the house committee on sport.


What is your take on the quit notice to Ndigbo by Arewa Youth Forum

It is unfortunate, because am also from the North, I am from Kaduna state and the proposed release was made in Kaduna, my own state capital. It was unnecessary, it was unwarranted, there should have been no call in the first place, Nigeria belongs to every one of us. If you are a citizen, you are entitled to do whatever you choose to do. You don’t need a visa to live anywhere in Nigeria, you don’t need a duration to live anywhere in Nigeria. The quit notice was ill-informed and I am happy that all of us in the North, particularly traditional rulers, Governors, and stakeholders have all come to openly say that such a thing shouldn’t have been said in the first place. So, I think, it is a wrong move and am I sure no Nigerian supported that move.


There has been call for restructuring from all parts of the country. What is your personal view on that?

The truth is that the call for restructuring is just because times are hard and an average Nigerian do not want to face hard times. They believe it must be fun and business as usual. So, the reality on ground is that things are not the way they are supposed to be and when you are advocating for change there must be some mental adjustment, there must be some psychological adjustment, some attitudinal adjustment. So, that is what is going on and because Nigerians are not used to that for a long time. Everybody believes that the call for restructuring will be the solution to going back to the days of business as usual. So, it is not strange, it is only a reaction and I don’t think it is a call that is deeply rooted. If you are telling me that restructuring is to dismember this country into multiple nation then that call is not necessary, but if you say restructuring is for the various tiers of government to function as provided for in the constitution I can understand that because the cry now mainly is that the state has an unbearable attitude over the local government. The states are also not happy that the federal government controls too much resources at the center, so if the restructuring is to sit down and look holistically for the best way to rule Nigeria and be happy, I support that too. But if the restructuring they are looking for is too dismember Nigeria into independent components, I don’t support it and I think it is not what an average Nigerian want because our diversity is our strength. We work for one another and we also benefit from one another. I believe that the call should not be encouraged and we must all condemn it in entirety.


Your party, the PDP, won the just concluded Osun West Senatorial election. what do you think this portends for your party as the road to 2019 commences?

 PDP is the only party in this country, any other one is an arrangement to hijack power, that they did in 2015. Believe me, the hijacking has not really been what Nigerians expected because two years down the line, promises are unfulfilled by the All Progressive Congress. The victory is a vindication that it is the only viable political system in this country. It is peoples’ friendly, it is everywhere, it’s in every nooks and cranny. PDP remains the oldest surviving party that was created in 1998, every other party that was PDP mate in 1998 has fizzled out or has gone to a merger to become another name but PDP is distinct. The only party that was there since 1998 was PRP every other party is gone. It simply means that such parties were founded on wrong promises. PDP was founded on a genuine promise. We said it is power to the people and that has not changed while others go around and come back. So, the victory in Osun State is a clear vindication that PDP remains the only viable platform that the average Nigerians identifies and believes in. Anywhere you go, the key stakeholder of other political parties are founding fathers of PDP. May be for reasons uncomfortable to them or for seeking for relevance, they have migrated. But, I can assure you that after the Supreme Court ruling between Makarfi and Amodu Sherif they will come back.


Are you saying that the Ahmed Makafi and Ali Modu Sheriff factions should come together, and what is your advice to them?

Unfortunately, we allow our differences to take us to the Supreme Court and at that level there is no other reconciliation that we can do. But thank God, as I said that after the Supreme Court ruling, the PDP will become one. We are prepared that whoever is pronounced as the authentic leader of PDP by the apex court will be our chairman and such a person will be mandated to conduct the next convention in three months. In three months, we will have one house and with one house nobody can challenge us. In Edo State, the division between Makarfi and Sheriff cost us that election. In Ondo, it was the same factor that cost us that election. For once, the two bodies became one and it was a very simple victory. Out of ten local governments in Osun West, PDP won nine.  You could see that given that kind of understanding and oneness there is no election we cannot win in free and fair atmosphere.


The president has been out of the country since May 7 for medical vacation. Do you think his absence has created vacuum in any way?

 It has caused more than a vacuum though we have an acting president. The word acting tells you he is not fully or 100 percent in charge. I am telling you this because I am in the opposition but that is the naked truth. It is like leaving your office and your cap is still there. Whoever comes in and sees your cap cannot behave as if there is no cap, because the owner has shown the whole world that he is only going to come back. That cap is a symbol of retention of power and Professor Yemi Osinbajo is there in an acting capacity. Let me be honest, he can never be the president in acting capacity. There are so many key decisions that I can tell you he is not aware of because they have a way of keeping some sensitive facts and documents away from him. And if he does not attend to all that is supposed to go to Mr President we cannot say we have the absolute occupant for the vacancy. So, to me vacancy exist in practical term but theoretically there is no vacancy. But in this country, it is not theory that works, it is practical. In this matter, the truth is that there is vacancy, because the acting capacity have limitations even though it is not clearly defined.


You are a former member of the House of Representative for eight years. Can you let us into your achievements?

It is simple, the duties of any lawmaker in the world is to make laws, after making laws, your work is to also to oversight the committee or of the various MDAs you belong to and then you make appropriation and you ensure that your constituency get a piece of the national cake. If you are asking in that context, I will tell you I was very happy with my performances in the 6th and 7th National Assembly. In the 6th Assembly, I sponsored eleven bills and during the 7th Assembly, I sponsored 12 bills and some of them went to the last level of assents. So, if bill presentation is the yard stick for achievement and performance, I would say I did very well.  At a point, in the 6th Assembly I was the third best member in terms of bill presentation, the same in the 7th Assembly.  In that case, I can say I did my best in term of representing a very complex constituency. Of course, as my oversight duty, I chaired the sport committee, we know the role we played in curtailing all the factors that would have killed our sport sector. In appropriation, go to my constituencies it speaks volume, there is no ward in my constituencies that when you go there today, you will not see a physical project through me by the federal government. I will tell you, we use the 8 years very well and we did not fail.


How do you think the National Assembly and the executive can work together for the development of the country?

Yes, there is a distinct separation of powers as captured by our constitution, a constitution is clear about the function of the legislature and is also clear about the function of the executive. When we learn to respect this distinction then we have no problem. If there is an overlap created by an arm to take advantage of other arm, confusion will come. It is the duty of the executive to make appointments and the constitution say that such appointment must be confirmed by the National Assembly. But there were names sent to the Senate for confirmation but they not confirmed. The executive should know that the constitution has given them the power to appoint subject to confirmation from the National Assembly. When confirmation is not obtained from the National Assembly, the right thing they should do is to change and submit a new name. I think the conflict is caused by the lack of understanding or lack of proper advice from those that should know in the executive arm who tends to give the legislature a bad name and image purely for political reasons and we cannot survive that way. Unless we respect what is our own right and do what is right, we will always go around. I understand that part of the problem is that we have an acting president, let us call spade a spade there are some things he cannot change because of his master. If he does not get that guarantee from his master, he cannot do anything.


Do you intend to contest for political position in 2019?

 We have left everything to join politics, so where else can I go, the answer is yes. Politics has become my venture because I left my profession, my office to become a politician. If there is a position for me to contest, while will I not stand for contest? It has become our way of life, it has become part and parcel of our lives. If we are healthy by 2019 we will take back our power, we will take it back from the APC. We will from the government from the council level to the national level. Boldly yes, we will contest on the platform of PDP and get all that we need to bring back Nigeria to the years of happiness.


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There is vacuum in the Presidency – Hon Gaiya