Hon. Jide Jimoh represents Lagos Mainland Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives. He speaks, in this interview, on the activities of the 9th Assembly, special status for Lagos State and his input in the legislature in the last one year. WALE ELEGBEDE reports
How have you fared in sponsoring of bills in the last one year at the parliament?
One thing about parliament is that you must ensure that you are responsible and you know what you are doing. Before your bill can come into the first reading, it has to be gazetted, that’s the first hurdle. I am very fortunate with that and I thank God for it. Among 177 people that have sponsored bills, many of them have not sponsored up to what I have sponsored. Some are in the first reading, one in the second reading, the other one in the third reading. It shouldn’t be my own responsibility, it is the responsibility of the house rules and I cannot do any other thing that’s inimical to what they are doing, all I know is that before we resume, I know many number of bills would have come for second or third reading.
What is your take on the contentious Company and Allied Matters Act (CAMA)?
The issue of CAMA is a collective responsibility and I can see that people have raised eyebrows on it, I have heard and listened but the fault is at the doorstep of the public. As at the time the bill was being considered, they may not have shown interest not to talk of coming to make their contributions, it is when it has been considered and passed into law that people will start complaining. Anyways, that is part of democracy, that is part of parliamentary system of government, that is part of legislation, people can still complain many times but our work is to listen to them as many times as possible and do necessary amendments. The amendments might be meaningful to the public but doesn’t mean that those protesting now might win or not win at the end of the day.
You were talking about the advantages of the CAMA Act…
The advantage of this Act is numerous. The issue of CAMA in the section as it has been amended has an advantage on individuals, For instance, if you register your company, unlike before, you have more advantage of becoming chairman while another person can be chief executive instead of being both, it has created more rooms for employment, that’s one of its importance. But that does not mean the Act or law is perfect, where there are hindrances, problems and objections, we should sit and amend where necessary.
In recent times, there has been some altercation between the National Assembly and some of the ministers. In all of these, the president who appointed some of the ministers appears to be silent. Should we not worry about this?
I cannot speak on behalf of the president or the house because it is a collective representation. I can only speak for myself. You should expect altercation in this kind of setting, we are from different backgrounds; some were elected, some were not. The ego will be there but the most important thing should be the general interest and not individuals. If you are a minister and you are being summoned by the House, you have the right to come by power invested on them by the constitution. You must respect that institution not individual and where you failed to do that, the parliament can apply the law. There must be altercation that is the beauty of democracy. But it must not cost the general interest of meaningful gains. As far as we are concerned in the National Assembly, those altercations can be resolved amicably and I was glad when I saw President Muhammadu Buhari with the leadership of the House and the party leaders had meetings on how best we can move the country forward without crisis. There might not be crisis but there will still be misunderstanding. There is difference between the two but whichever it is, it can be resolved.
Is it true that the House of Representatives took N15m for palliatives either from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) or National Assembly and if not, how much did they take?
I had expected this question but let me make it clear that, I, Olajide Jimoh, did not collect a dime for palliatives from anywhere. I am saying it emphatically; I did not and will not collect anything on palliative from anywhere. If they want to do it, let the executive do it directly, they might ask us to bring names for palliatives; we will help them to submit names because they can’t generate names of their own. We are the custodians of the people when it comes to grassroots, but for me, I didn’t collect and will not collect palliatives either in cash or in kind. Secondly, on whether House of Representatives have collected or not, on behalf of the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, I trust him if he has taken anything of such, he would have informed us, so I am saying that that allegation is false. Thirdly, the man who has alleged should come out with proof, that is important and beauty of democracy.
What is the position of the special status for Lagos at the National Assembly?
I want to tell you emphatically that the issue is being reviewed and we are taking it up. It has gone through the first reading, sponsored by Hon. Jimmy Benson and others.
Looking at the challenges facing your people in your constituency, what kind of intervention are you expecting from the Federal Government?
There are so many challenges, it might not be so fine now but I hope it will be better at the end of the day. The basic one is unemployment, unemployment is everywhere. It is rampant in my constituency. Another one is on development particularly along the coastal area like Makoko, Iwaya. The Federal Government can help us in that area. Housing is also part of the challenges we are facing in my constituency.
Some northern elders are saying they are against constitution review by the National Assembly. Don’t you think this stance will affect the review?
As far as Nigeria is concerned, no other institution can amend our constitution except the National Assembly. Don’t let us deceive ourselves, even the executive cannot do it except the parliament which is the National Assembly. Let’s look at what Asiwaju Bola Ahmed did during the period of palliatives, he put out some suggestions to the Federal Government and I can tell you that National Assembly is considering some of those suggestions. We have the power to do constitution review, if there is any suggestion whatsoever, you can get it across to the National Assembly. Once it gets to us, you will know if it’s going to be possible, we will do public hearing and the amendment will be done.
The arguments in some quarters have always been that previous constitution amendments have not always seen the light of the day that once it gets to the presidency, it is probably thrown out and this has been going on over the years, so how do we tidy that up?
Constitution amendment is not a project that will start and finish at once even after this 9th Assembly. The next assembly will still come and say they want to do it also, it is continuous. Whatever the current National Assembly is doing now will depend on what they have done before and we can’t finish it. There is no government that will say I have done everything even in the United States of America, Barrack Obama did his own, Donald Trump took over and another person will take over when Trump leaves. I can promise you that this National Assembly will do our bits and will leave the rest for the next assembly.
You are a member of the Water Committee in the House of Representatives. What is the position of the Water bill?
I was among the members of the House Committee on Water Resources in the 8th Assembly. I’m happy to be part of it again this 9th Assembly. In the 8th Assembly, when it came up, I opposed it vehemently, that the issue of water is domestic, it has to go to the grassroots. Some people were saying we have water resources ministry at the federal level but that does not mean you should take the power of the local and state governments away from them though it’s concurrent. Let’s carry it together and do what’s necessary. In the water resources bill, there are many number of clauses that are very good but the one I will oppose to is the one that will take the power of the local and state to the federal government. We don’t want that, we want power to be dissolved in the locality and not at the central level, if they bring it again, though I’m a member of the committee, I will oppose it, I can assure you of that but we are still waiting.