Hon. Dachung Musa Bagos is the member representing Jos South/Jos East Federal Constituency of Plateau State in the House of Representatives. He is also the Deputy Chairman House Committee on Anti-Corruption. In this interview with MUSA PAM, he disagrees with those calling for negotiation with or granting of amnesty to bandits but advocates for acquisition of modern military equipment to curb insurgency, banditry and kidnapping
As a lawmaker, do you support negotiating with bandits and giving them amnesty like in the case of militants in the Niger Delta
? Kidnapping, armed robbery and banditry are very critical issues that should be taken very seriously in this nation. They are becoming a trend and if nothing is quickly done to stop them, we will wake up one day and all of us will be kidnapped.
Our military is doing their best; they have well trained, intelligent and experienced personnel but they lack the modern equipment to perform. Our military personnel will go on peace-keeping missions elsewhere and perform well but back home, they can’t produce results.
This is simply because they are using obsolete equipment. So, I want to call on the government and new service chiefs to acquire modern equipment, so as to end insecurity in the country. To me, the capacity of our security agencies is questionable.
Just recently, we lost some vibrant intelligent air officers as a result of engine problems in their aircraft, just after it set off for surveillance. That means that no matter how intelligent you are, if you don’t have what it takes to confront the bandits, it will not work.
So, this is an area that I believe the government really needs to look at. I want to strongly disagree with those calling on the government to negotiate with or grant amnesty to bandits because such a move would further create more troubles for our nation.
That is why I agree with the position of President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Nasir el-Rufai that government cannot negotiate with bandits. If that happens, I tell you this act of criminality will not end in years to come, because it will become a multimillion-dollar business.
You see, amnesty was granted to the militants in the Niger Delta region because they agitated for something which was clear. They were not killing people.
So, my position is that these bad guys should be confronted, arrested and be made to face the law, instead of negotiating or granting them amnesty.
The militants were agitating for development in their own land, which provides petroleum revenue for the country; they were not killing people.
They were agitating and then, the government knows that if they didn’t look into the agitations, the country would lose revenue because that is the source of Nigeria’s revenue. But my concern is why are people agitating for amnesty for people that are killing people?
What is the government’s interest? Which revenue are these bandits stopping? So, these are the two issues and we should be able to confront these bandits. We should be able to go into the bush and see how we can confront them but not to give them amnesty.
Are you not disturbed that the 9th National Assembly which you belong to has become a rubber stamp National Assembly?
What people are saying about the 9th National Assembly is not true. We are not a rubber stamp assembly. Anyone who critically follows and studies what we are doing will know that we now have one of the best national assemblies in the history of this nation.
Check our motions and resolutions; you will see that they are all geared towards a better Nigeria. We have been speaking on insecurity, poverty, bad roads, economy and other critical issues. If only the executive arm could implement just 30 per cent of our resolutions, this country will not be where it is today. It would have been better off. I am calling on Nigerians to support the National Assembly in its bid to ensure good governance at all levels. Again, we need to restructure the House of Representatives to have a balance of representation.
Most of the time when people say that we are a rubber stamp National Assembly, it is because they fail to recognise the fact that we don’t have the equal number of representatives.
For that reason, you will be wasting your time to say you want to stop a decision. But until we get an equal number of representation from states, nothing can be done because what is happening is the majority always carry the day. We only have equal representation at the Senate because there are three senators from every state – that is equal representation.
It is according to senatorial zones. So, every state, no matter the size, produces three senators. It is at the Senate that serious lobbying is being done to take decisions and make sure that they get the concurrence of the House of Representatives just as the House must get the Senate’s concurrence on any bill.
You have been at the forefront of those fighting against Open Grazing. So, what is your view on the National Livestock Transformation Programme designed to replace open grazing?
Well, I want to appreciate the government now for coming to terms with what we have been agitating for many years that open grazing is not fashionable; that open grazing in the 21st Century is not the way to go. We even went ahead to put citizens to ban open grazing. State Houses of Assembly should be able to ban open grazing.
But then, I am happy that all the governors have now collectively said open grazing is not the way to go. However, the National Livestock Transformation Programme of the Federal Government should be a programme that will create enabling environment for people to access funds for ranching through the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN), not a programme that government will take billions of naira and give state governors or someone to go and create the ranch.
Unfortunately, the way I am even seeing some governors going on with the programme, some are establishing the ranch but also importing high breed cows. It is expected that the ranch should address the needs of the herdsmen that are within their respective states.
Some governors are importing all the bulls that will give them dairy products and what happens to the cows of the herdsmen that are creating problems in the country which ranching was supposed to address? If governors will say they need N2 billion and at the end of the day, they are creating a personal ranch, it will not help.
To me, the Federal Government should not give funds for ranching to state governors. I want to encourage members of the public and Fulani people to access funds and create their ranches to stem the issues of herders/ farmers crisis in the country.
Ranching is the way to go but it is a private business which shouldn’t be done by the government.
The CBN can provide the funds and individuals can go and obtain loans to establish ranches but I do not support giving out money for ranches without accountability, no. I want to applaud the state governors for taking collective decisions against open grazing and insisting that the way to go is ranching.
Local government elections have not been conducted in your constituency since 2018 for security reasons. Is this not a thing of concern to you?
It is actually a serious issue of concern that since 2018, election is yet to be conducted in my constituency and in my own Local Government, Jos South, as well as Barkin Ladi,
Riyom and Jos North, due to security challenges. However, I want to urge the state government to reconsider its stand on the issue. This is because local government councils are the closest government to the people, particularly those at the grassroots.
Denying the people the opportunity to elect their representatives is an infringement on their fundamental rights; it is an abuse of their rights to vote and be voted for. General elections were conducted in the four LGAs, the All Progressives Congress (APC) membership registration/ revalidation is ongoing in the areas without challenge.
This means the security challenge given by the government as a reason for not conducting elections in the areas doesn’t hold water. So, my call is that the state government should conduct elections in the areas to give the people a sense of belonging. It is very unfortunate that Jos South, which I represent, is not democratically represented at the local government level.
You also know very well that the local government area is the place to reach out to the grassroots because we are talking about three tiers of government; the other tiers have democratic form of governance but the local government does not have.
So, my call and appeal to Governor Simon Lalong, who is the Chairman of Northern Governors Forum is to lead by example by conducting elections in this four local governments because if the ongoing APC registration is being conducted in the entire four local government at the various polling units, then, I believe that these four local governments are peaceful enough to have local government elections.
What have you achieved for Jos South and Jos East Federal Constituency since your election into the National Assembly in 2019?
During the midterm review, out of 206 new members, I thank God that I have the highest number of bills so far. So far, we have about 31 bills. And out of these bills, there are some in the area of constitutional amendment, some are establishment bills.
And these bills have direct bearing to our constituents and those are the kind of bills that we concentrated our attention on.
By the grace of God, most of the bills are at the committee level and we are looking at how we can lobby for them to be passed into law by the committee of whole.
Our bills are so strategic and so far, so good. If these bills are amended or established, we would be able to strengthen certain areas. On constituency projects, you know that as National Assembly members, every legislator has three cardinal roles: constituency outreach, lawmaking and oversight.
And in the area of constituency outreach, I have attracted some projects to my constituency, especially in the area of education, where we have commissioned modern blocks of classrooms in Jos South and Jos East Local Government Areas respectively.
And by the grace of God, we have been able to attract some projects to our constituency – be it training, infrastructure and so forth. I must say that in all, our projects are being supervised and funded by the Federal Government through ministries.
So, no National Assembly member is given one naira to execute any constituency project. Rather, he lobbies for it and the ministries execute the project. The only thing our people do is to identify the location of the project because many times, people come to us that we should give them a contract. We don’t have the powers to do that!
Ours is to lobby and wait to see what the ministries can do for our people. So, National Assembly members don’t award contracts.