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Tuesday, 7 July 2015

APC Crisis: Oyegun’s exit isn’t a solution — Sen Alimikhena -

Senator Francis Alimikhena, APC, Edo North is the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate and a retired military officer. In this interview with Vanguard, Senator Alimikhena, who is in his first term in the Senate and the only APC senator from the South-South, speaks on topical issues affecting the Senate and his party.  Excerpts:
What should one expect from you as the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate?
AlimikhenaI am going to do the best I can for Edo North and Nigeria in general. As deputy chief whip, I will make sure that I make my office very attractive and robust and do what is right for all manner of people.

What are the issues stoking the crisis in your party?
Well, it is a leadership issue and at the same time, it is a family affair. You know in every family, there must be issue and it is good to resolve the issues among the family. It all goes down to misunderstanding. As I can say by my own perception,  misunderstanding and wrong direction are the causes of the wrangling.

There are calls from some quarters that the National chairman of your party, Chief John Odigie Oyegun should resign or be removed. What is your take on this?
I do not believe that he should resign because any decision taken rightly or wrongly is a collective responsibility. If they feel that Oyegun has not done well, it is not only Oyegun that should go, all the National Working Committee, NWC of the APC should go. But I don’t think he should go, it is just a matter of consensus.
When mistakes occur then they can be rectified because if you say one mistake occured here and you say the people that made that mistake should go, what of other people that will come? If they make similar mistakes, will they have to go? I don’t think that it is fair on him for anybody to clamour that they should go because of what has happened.
What is your agenda for the Senator Bukola Saraki led 8th Senate?
Well, I don’t have to set agenda for him because he is an agenda person. He can set good agenda that he believes can be good for the country. You should bear in mind that he was once a governor and he did well in Kwara State and this is his second term in the Senate. He should be able to know the agenda that is good for the country.
For instance, today he has set up two committees. There is the legislative committee which has not been done before in the Senate. And he also set up a finance committee to look at the finances of the Senate in a way to prune it down so that a lot of people talking about what goes to the Senate should be able to know. Information matters.
If they come up with a blueprint, then Nigerians will know what comes to the National Assembly and it is in the right direction that he has set up those two committees.
What do you expect from your colleagues and secondly, what is your take on the controversy concerning the huge allowance for lawmakers?
First and foremost, my colleagues and I expect that we should work in peace and harmony. It is when there is peace that there will be development. I don’t expect anybody to have any ulterior motive whereby you come to the Senate to fight. The Senate is not a place to fight, it is a place to make laws for the good of the country.
Wardrobe allowance
Like all these talk about  jumbo pay and the rest, I have not seen the jumbo pay. For instance they were talking about wardrobe allowance of about N6 million or thereabout. But we were told the wardrobe allowance is N42,000 and N42,000 cannot be a jumbo pay.
I have not seen the jumbo pay. Whether the jumbo pay will come tomorrow, it is only when I see it that I can comment on it.
Meanwhile what they read on the floor of the Senate to us is what I have just told you now. They said wardrobe allowance which the papers published as N6 million for every Senator is N42,000 and I don’t think that N42,000 is a thing that somebody should make noise about.
And if you calculate all these as you were told, the take home pay of a Senator is about 900thousand a month, so I don’t see the jumbo pay there. Maybe probably they calculated what you take in a year or added the furniture allowance which you receive once in four years.
And the 42thousand wardrobe allowance that they are talking about is paid once in a year.
So I have not seen any jumbo pay, maybe  the jumbo pay will come, I don’t know.
It is based on this thing that the Senate President set up a committee on finance to look at all the loopholes.
This Senate is not going to be an extravagant Senate and you should also bear in mind that this is change. The slogan of APC is change, change for the good and not change for the bad. The change from the wrong way of doing things to change to good things so that Nigerians will benefit. I don’t think the 8th Senate is insensitive to the yearnings of Nigeria 

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