It’s Not Out of Order for People to Call Us Rubber Stamp National Assembly – Yaroe
Senator Binos Dauda Yaroe is a trained accountant whose working career cuts across the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), National Engineering and Technical Company Limited and the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) Lagos among several others. In this interview with HANNATU D. L. the lawmaker speaks on his return to the red chamber, the Buhari administration, the working of the 9th National Assembly and what the 10th legislature should do differently.
How does it feel getting re-elected vis-à-vis the challenges that went with it?
Well, let me again welcome you, I also express my appreciation for this conversation that you have arranged. To be re-elected, indeed I saw it first as the grace of God and because I could see His hand throughout the process that led to the election and the announcement of the result, and secondly to give credit to the little work I have been able to do during the four years I was in office. I think what I have done have touched lives and the people were ready to re-elect me so that I can continue doing what I have done over the last four years. So, I see it as a burden, you know, as a huge responsibility, the confidence my electorate have in me. So, I am highly challenged to be able to continue doing what they are looking forward to, to really not let them down, because I think it is a really big, big responsibility they have given to me.
The nation is set to experience a new set of leadership at both the State and federal levels. What in your view should be topmost in your agenda for the people?
I think the new leadership we are going to have in place, as from Monday, especially at the national level, is for the leadership to look around very well, to look inward, to asses the situation we are in right now, because we are facing challenges in virtually every facet of life. If you look at security, if you look at the economy, if you look at the issue of corruption, if you look at the issue of disunity that we have in the country, all these areas, the new leadership has to look at all of them and be able to address them so that life can be better for the ordinary man in this country.
People’s perception of the outgoing National Assembly is somehow low. What in your view could be responsible for this?
Well, I will not disagree with you on that, indeed the public perception is really that this 9th Assembly has virtually let down the people, you know because instead of performing our constitutional role as the watchdog of the executive, you know we have tagged ourselves what people call a rubber stamp National Assembly, you know we are like anything goes, so anything that comes from the executive to the National Assembly whether it is good or bad, will be approved or passed. Let me just cite one example; everyone is aware of the N22 trillion, Ways and Means short term loans the Central Bank gave to the Federal Government. You know, if you look at the CBN Act, if you look at Section 38 of the CBN Act, its stated out very very clearly how the CBN can advance the short term loans to the federal government, it gives conditions. First, before you can give out that advance, you have to check and make sure that it is not more than 15% of the previous year’s revenue of the federal government, that is number one.
Number two, that advance must be repaid within the year in which you have given it. In other words, if you gave an advance in 2023 before the end of 2023, the federal government should be able to pay back.
Number three, if they are not able to pay back, you should not give them any further advance, and number four, that advance should not be converted into securities. Those are conditions very, very clearly spelt out in the Act. But what happened? The entire law has been breached.
First, nobody calculated the amount whether it is within limit of the revenue as set out in the Acts and then the advanced was accumulated over seven years. So, it is not something they were repaying, so they kept giving it and then that condition, if you are not able to repay, you cannot take further. But we can see that over seven years or so, every year they will take loan from the CBN and they have not been repaying, and this is in breach of the law. And the Act says we should not securitize, you should not convert the loan to securities but this request that came to the National Assembly provided that the advances are to be turned into securities to be paid over forty years. So, this is a total breach of the law. And what happened? The National Assembly approved it. So, it is in order for the people to say that we are just a rubber stamp.
What will the 10th NASS do differently to win back the people’s confidence?
The 10th Assembly has to assert itself by redeeming the image of the NASS as an independent arm of Government, not an appendage of the Executive. The 10th Assembly also has to play its watchdog role properly to check the excesses of the Executive. This should begin to manifest in the way the leadership of the 10th Assembly emerges.
What’s the attitude of the PDP Senators-elect towards the making of the leadership of the 10th National Assembly?
PDP and other Minority Senators are united and resolved to have a say in who becomes our presiding officers. The election of presiding officers – President of the Senate and Deputy President of the Senate – is the business and exclusive preserve of the 109 Senators-elect. Every Senator-elect has one vote to cast. Nobody outside of the Senators-elect will determine who becomes a presiding officer. The best the political parties can do is to play an advisory role: no more no less.
What is your assessment of the Buhari administration?
Well you know I have talked about the things that the new leadership should be looking at, to address to improve the lives of Nigerians. So, if you look at them one by one, the insecurity, you know what has Buhari done. When he came, the insecurity was confined to the North-East, Boko Haram. But over the years, while he has been in office, it has spread all over the country. We have bandits all over the place, we have kidnappers all over the place. So, he has made the security situation of the country worse over the last seven years or so, he has failed in that regard woefully.
If you look at the economy you know when he came what was the dollar exchange rate to the naira, it was less than 200 hundred naira. What is it today? You know, officially 460 while black market rate is 750 and 760 you know, so he has run down our economy.
What was the level of internal and external debts foreign and local debts? He has more than tripled it over the seven to eight years he has been in office, this you know. What was the level of unemployment? It is much worse now. So, if you look at the indices, every single economic index that you look at has become worse.
What was the inflation rate, it is much more worse now. In every aspect, you asses Buhari’s administration, he has failed woefully. That is my own assessment.
What should your people expect of you as you return to the Senate for a fresh tenure June?
Well, like I said, my re-election after God’s own grace, it is also because of what I have done to the people. The people of my constituency saw what I have done over last four years, the representation I gave them in the National Assembly. I do speak on their behalf when they are issues that concern them, I rise up and I speak for them, I have presented motions that have to deal with issues that are in my constituency, and I have also touched people’s lives through some of the programmes that I did like my free Medical Outreach, the Water Projects I have done, like the Youth and Woman Empowerment. So, all those things put together made my constituency to re-elect me with wide margin. So, it is the expectation that what I have done over the last four years will continue. So, what they should expect from me is more of what I have been able to do for them.
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