Anambra’s next governor ‘ll not emerge through sentiments – Rep. Odedo
BY VINCENT UJUMADU
Rep. Charles Odedo representing Idemili North and South in the House of Representatives on the platform of Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN in this interview speaks on the review of the 1999 Constitution, a number of national issues, including the on-going constitutional review, the controversies in the legislature, the 2014 gubernatorial election in Anambra State among others. An Estate Surveyor and Valuer turned politician, Odedo is a two–time member of the House of Representatives.
WHERE do you stand in the review of the constitution?
We in the Southeast geo-political zone are talking of fair treatment. Remember that the presidential committee on the amendment of the constitution recommended one additional state to be carved out of the South East zone and I must thank the former Chief Justice of Nigeria who chaired the committee for that recommendation.
The issue is not where the new state will be created from, but to ensure that the zone gets a state to ensure some level of balance among the six geo-political zones. The additional state from the South East will go a long way to address years of imbalance. I am happy that stakeholders from the South East, including the fives governors in the zone, the deputy senate president, the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives and others are united in the demand for the new state.
Another issue of importance is the creation of additional federal constituencies. Anambra Central senatorial zone where I belong needs an additional federal constituency to address the imbalance where Anambra North and South have four federal constituencies, while Anambra Central has three.
The additional federal constituency should be created out of Idemili North and South federal constituency because the area has the highest population and the highest number of voters among federal constituencies in the state. I have already met with the chairman of the house committee on electoral matters, Hon Jerry Manwe and presented the demand to him.
Are you worried about the frequency with which scandals such as that from the fuel subsidy probe emit from the House of Representatives?
The 7th assembly under the leadership of Rt. Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has been on the side of the Nigerian people. We resisted the January 1, 2012 fuel hike and conducted investigation into the subsidy regime. I believe that the report still has merit and I am glad the executive arm of government is implementing the recommendations of the committee.
Already many suspects have been charged to court in a bid to recover the subsidy money. This is a step in the right direction and I must commend Mr. President for acting on the report. I am also in total agreement with the actions taken by the House that Hon Farouk Lawan be suspended as chairman of Ad Hoc committee on fuel subsidy regime and as chairman of House committee on education, pending the final outcome of the police investigation and court decision.
Do you think the opposition is trying to use the budget face-off against the PDP?
The 2012 Appropriation Act has not been fully implemented and we consider the 30% level of implementation very low, though the minister of finance said the implementation has gone up to 56 per cent. Apart from low implementation of the budget, the executive has not been implementing constituency projects and the executive should, as a matter of urgency, start implementing National Assembly constituency projects as the selective implementation of the budget is robbing members of the National Assembly the benefits their constituents will derive from the projects.
However, I do not support that impeachment process should be started against the president because of the budget. The fact that there was a suggestion by the House minority leader, that the House will draft article of impeachment if by September, the budget implementation does not improve, does not amount to impeachment process against the president.
As far as the House is concerned, the final motion that was adopted by the House did not contain impeachment threat. The president himself seems to be as concerned as the House on this budget implementation and I therefore urge him to take action against any minister or head of parastatal found wanting on budget implementation.
Does the House really have power to summon the president to appear before it as it did recently?
Section 89(C) of the 1999 constitution as amended gives power to the national assembly to summon any person to appear before it.
Summoning the president
However, when taken together with Section 308 that deals with immunity clause for the president, it seems to me that the national assembly cannot summon the president because it cannot issue a warrant on any person that is protected by immunity.
Given the differences in political parties, have federal lawmakers from Anambra State found reason to cooperate for the good of the state?
I want to commend members of Anambra State in this 7th Assembly of the House of Representatives. We are united under our able leader, Hon Uche Ekwunife. This is a clear departure from the 6th Assembly that had factions among our members.
Do you support the calls for the governorship of the state to be ceded to Anambra North as it is the only zone yet to produce a governor for the state?
Nobody should be given the governor based on sentiments. You fight for power and our bothers from Anambra North should come out and tell our people in strong terms that they mean to govern the state. They should come out with their programmes and sell them to other parts of the state and convince them to vote for candidate from the area.
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