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BREAKING: It’ll Be Foolhardy To Dismiss Peter Obi In 2023 Polls, Says Rep. Bagos

Hon. Dachung Musa Bagos represents Jos South/Jos East Federal Constituency of Plateau State in the House of Representatives on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He is the Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Anti-corruption. In this interview with PHILIP NYAM, he bares his mind on the independence anniversary, 2023 general elections, the position of the youths, insecurity and other issues….CONTINUE READING

Nigeria is 62 years and there are mixed feelings about the state of the nation. Are we where we are supposed to be?

Honestly, we are not where we should be as a nation after 62 years of independence.

Although, there have been some milestones in certain areas, we are lagging behind in most sectors. Today, poverty is at all-time high, as more and more Nigerians are being impoverished because of bad governance and mismanagement of the economy. We are sharply divided along ethnic and religious lines and insecurity is at an alarming rate. Terrorists, bandits and kidnappers are having a field day.

These are some of the issues that have bedeviled the nation. But the good thing is that in spite of all these problems, the nation is still one. In these 62 years of independence, we have fought a civil war, the military has interrupted democratic and civil process for many years.

However, that we survived the Nigerian Civil War is a major plus for the nation. And it is the more reason why as we head towards 2023, Nigerians have to elect leaders that have the capacity to unify the people and the nation. We have to reject candidates and leaders with divisive tendencies. We all have to fight for justice, equality and fairness.

Every Nigerian should be given a sense of belonging irrespective of religion and ethnicity. I have hope that Nigeria can be great if we elect the right leaders.

It seems your party, the PDP, will have it tough in 2023 with Governor Simon Lalong as the director general of the APC presidential candidate?

No!

That is far from the truth. The governor, being the DG does not add any value to the electoral fortunes of the APC in the state. APC cannot get anything in Plateau State. In fact, the people of Plateau are waiting for February 25, 2023, to pass their verdict on Governor Lalong and his presidential candidate, Ahmed Bola Tinubu.

The APC will be roundly defeated in the presidential elections, National Assembly, governorship and state assembly elections. I want to assure you that every candidate will get votes according to his performance, the governor has failed the Plateau people in all areas since 2015, which is why he cannot deliver Plateau state to the APC and in the presidential elections.

And like I said earlier, being a DG will not change  the decision of the youths and the Plateau electorate. Our people are politically savvy and very conscious of what they want.

So, if they give you a mandate and you fail to deliver, they can never trust you again because you have betrayed the confidence they reposed in you. The APC has failed in all its campaign promises and the result is out there in the public domain for all to see. Insecurity is all-time high, hunger and poverty have grown astronomically and the masses are groaning under unprecedented hardship.

The level of kidnapping and banditry we have been experiencing under the APC administration never happened when the PDP was in charge. I don’t know what they would use to campaign to our people in Plateau. So, anybody thinking about APC winning in Plateau should crash that dream from his psyche.

Some analysts have said with the appointment of Governor Yahaya Bello and the national youth coordinator of Bola Tinubu, many youths will be swayed to the camp of the ruling APC. Do you see this happening?

Again, this is another misplaced narrative. You and I are aware that Nigerian youths are angry and are rearing to cause an electoral revolution come 2023. Anyone with a record of failure and non-performance will be shown the way out. I know some of those who have failed us severally would want to use money to buy votes but our youths are now wiser.

The youths now understand that those who spray money are out to buy their conscience and they can never give into that again. They may spend money but at the end of the day, the youths will go for the right candidates. I wouldn’t comment on the person of Governor Yahaya Bello because after all, I am not a member of the APC; I am a member of the PDP. And like I have always said, apart from the poor performance of APC in both Plateau and the national level, the youths are now, more than ever, ready to take back their country.

Remember, the youths constitute more than 60 per cent of the electorates, and by the way, how can a party that has kept our youths, the students at home for more than half a year get votes from the same people who have been denied their right to education, the same group of Nigerians who have no jobs, people who are pauperised, how can they vote for the APC?

How can the youths whose parents and relatives have been killed by terrorists and bandits, who have been displaced, give their votes again to failed promises? This is simply impossible. I believe that after careful analysis and strategic considerations, the youths will make the right choice, not based on emotions but on logical consideration of the different voting blocks in the country.

The presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, is making waves across the country with the ‘Obidient Movement’. Do you see him as a threat to your party, especially in the presidential elections?

Yes, the Obidient Movement is real and is being driven by the youths so it will be foolhardy for anybody to dismiss the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, former Governor Peter Obi, with a wave of the hand. He has really given the major parties a run for their popularity and actually changed the mode of elections in the country.

He is clearly the third force and honestly, even my party the PDP has a lot of work to do to convince the youthful voters because the youths are working tirelessly for any possible options on candidates not party.

However, despite this, I believe that our party, the PDP has the magic wand to cruise to victory. That is why I am appealing to all the stakeholders in the PDP to bury their hatchets and reconcile in order to rescue the country from the APC. A united PDP will defeat the APC and any other party at any elections in the country.

But if we go into the elections as a divided party, we will be unfortunately working for the success of our opponents. It is my hope that sooner than later, both the Nyesom Wike and Abubakar Atiku camps will shift grounds and resolve their differences so that the campaigns will start in earnest.

It is a fact that the 16 years of the PDP were far better than what we have witnessed under the APC in the past seven and four months. Could anybody tell me that Nigerians are better off now than in 2015? The answer is no. Things have degenerated and we need a party and leaders who are tested and trusted and not people who have failed the nation.

You are also contesting for a second term on the platform of the PDP. What are your chances considering the fact that the Obidient youths are equally in our constituency?

rget that I am also a youth, so we are together. The youths are for me and I am for them. I have been able to deliver on my mandate as a member of the House of Representatives; my constituents are very proud of my achievements and are in fact waiting to recertify my elections come February 25, 2023.

The youths are solidly behind me and will roll out drums any day and anytime to campaign and vote massively for me. I have always maintained that the youths will decide the outcome of the 2023 elections because their awareness and consciousness are very high.

I am not saying old people are not important; they will equally play a vital role in deciding who wins elections because they also have their votes. But the fact is that the youths are in the majority among those with PVC and that is instructive.

And don’t forget, I am a thoroughbred grassroots politician and not Abuja politicians who abandon their constituents the moment they are voted into office. I am always with my constituents and I attend to their problems.

I know their problems and I have committed my time, energy and even resources to seek for sustainable solutions. I am into politics for genuine service and that is exactly what I have been since I was elected to the House of Representatives.

How satisfied are you with INEC’s preparations for the 2023 general elections? Do you have confidence in the electoral body to conduct credible elections?

I believe INEC as led by Professor Mahmoud Yakubu is doing its best to deliver credible, free and fair elections because Nigerians will not accept anything less than that. And if we go by what happened in the last elections conducted by INEC in Osun State, I would say I am convinced that the electoral body would give Nigerians value for their votes.

I would encourage INEC not to rest on her oars but improve in areas where they encountered challenges in the Osun state governorship elections. There is plenty of room for improvement and I hope they will plug all the loopholes so that a level playing field will be presented for Nigerians to choose their leaders in 2023.

I do not have any cause to doubt INEC’s sincerity at this stage unless if anything happens to the contrary along the line. I also call on Nigerians, especially the political class and the political parties   to play the game by the rules and make the job of the electoral umpire easier. Let our campaigns be based on issues and not sentiments or mundane considerations. Let the electorates interrogate candidates based on their antecedents, track records and what they have to offer instead of dwelling on insults and divisive tendencies.

INEC needs our support and cooperation to succeed. I will also urge the government in power and security agencies to eschew partisanship and work in the national interest to ensure that we have credible elections.

As deputy chairman of the House committee on anti-corruption, how concerned are you about the recent alarm raised by the chairman of ICPC, Prof. Owasannoye concerning the diversion of public funds?

It is a worrisome development and I am seriously troubled. When the ICPC chairman was speaking at the two-day capacity-building workshop for members of our committee, I was dumbfounded. He mentioned the issue of diversion of public funds both in revenue receipts and expenditure, illicit financial flow, misapplication of funds and budget padding.

There is no doubt that this is impacting negatively on the nation’s economy and this is happening at a time oil theft has also increased. But as lawmakers, our job is to expose corruption and we have been doing that. Again, the ball is in the court of the anticorruption agencies such as the ICPC; we have provided the required legal framework to enable them to discharge their responsibilities.

So, this is a wake-up call to the ICPC, EFCC and other law enforcement bodies; they have to up their game and tackle perpetrators of these crimes head-on. I would also advise the Bureau of Public Procurement and the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission to collaborate with the EFCC and ICPC to fight this monster that is gradually killing our economy and impoverishing our people and nation.

I would urge the chairman of ICPC to go beyond the mere raising of alarm to swinging in action and facing the culprits. We cannot afford to be losing revenue when the nation is facing a serious infrastructural deficit and other socio-economic problems such as high unemployment level, degenerating healthcare system and growing poverty.

Northern Governors and traditional rulers recently declared their support for the creation of state police in order to stem the tide of insecurity in the country.

Do you think we are ripe for state police?

I applaud the governors and traditional rulers for this bold move. The establishment of state police is long overdue. The time has come when we should stop playing the ostrich and face the reality. It is clear that the federal police are overworked and besides, they do not have enough personnel to police a vast and highly populated country such as ours.

If we had state police, the current insecurity could have been curtailed dramatically because the personnel would know their localities very well and will be able to navigate and tackle criminals and terrorists who come from outside to visit mayhem on their people.

I support state police 100 per cent and call on all stakeholders to join hands together so that we can make this a reality.

There is no better time than now. If you see the successes recorded by the civilian JTF in the Boko Haram-infested state and even the vigilantes in other states, you will agree that if we allow state police, we will be able to tackle insecurity frontally.

Written by Grandbros

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