Babangida Ibrahim is a member of the House of Representatives member representing Katsina State’s Malumfashi/Kurfi Federal Constituency. The three-term lawmaker tells OLAIDE OYELUDE that those calling for a part-time legislature were either unaware of how parliament works or were blackmailing the government

How qualified are you for the Senate seat you’re running for?

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I am Honourable Babangida Ibrahim, a Federal House of Representatives member. I represent the Malumfashi/Kurfi Federal Constituency. I am a member of the New Nigeria Peoples Party. I am the Chairman of the House Committee on Capital Markets and Institutions. I was first elected into the House in 2011 then re-elected in 2015 and 2019.

I was formerly a member of the All Progressives Congress. I joined the NNPP about three months after the primaries. I am now the NNPP senatorial candidate for the Funtua senatorial zone, Katsina South.

What made you defect from APC to NNPP?

Simply put, I defected because of injustice. I left the APC shortly after the primary. On the day we were to have our primary that was in the APC, it rained heavily shortly after the primary began at 8.30 pm. The primary was thereafter rescheduled. We were surprised on the rescheduled day, those brought as delegates were not from our constituency. Our people were not allowed to elect the candidate of their choice. As far as we are concerned, that was an injustice. There was no primary. So, we have to leave the party.

Because NNPP is a new party, don’t you think your choice of party may affect your chances in the election?

I believe, as an experienced legislator and one who puts the people of his constituency first, my ambition to go for the senate seat means greater responsibility and further serve my people and larger constituencies. I have a better chance of winning the election. Don’t forget that the APC, as a new party, also won its first election. Being new as a party or as a candidate is secondary. This is because people would rather vote for a better and more competent candidate.

 I have used my period in the Federal House of Representatives to serve my constituency. I have facilitated the construction of no fewer than 12 asphalt roads in my constituency; I have facilitated the employment of young people who are qualified to get employment in paramilitary agencies and other federal agencies. I have also facilitated the development of agriculture in my constituency and I have seen the empowerment of several others there. Listing my achievements as a Federal House of Representatives member would take the better part of your time. I believe the people of my constituency would also want to reciprocate my contribution to the constituency and would see that I am elected as the senator representing the Katsina South senatorial zone.

What the NNPP has done is to field well qualified and experienced candidates for all the elective posts . Most of our candidates in the forthcoming elections are either the best or some of the best across the country. They also have the political experience that would make them good representatives of their various constituencies. If you can recollect,the APC won elections as a new party. The personalities that make up a political party can, at times, determine its chances at elections.

Take, for instance,my humble self. I am a three-term member of the Federal House of Representatives who has done an excellent job of representing my constituents.

In fact,some people in our communities encouraged me to go for the senatorial seat so that communities that make up the Katsina South Senatorial zone could also benefit from the dividends of democracy being currently enjoyed by communities that fall under the Malumfashi/Kurfi Federal Constituency, which I presently represent in the Federal House of Representatives.

As a member of the House of Representatives who has spent a considerable number of years there, how do you see the call for a part-time legislature as a means of reducing the cost of democracy in Nigeria?

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When I hear some people say that there should be a part-time legislature in Nigeria, I wonder if these people know what legislation or parliament is all about. The legislature is a full-time business that deserves all you have to record success. And when people say it costs a lot to run the parliament, I readily ask them whether they have taken time to study the House budget and compared it with that of the majority of the MDAS or that of the executives. Are you saying our schedule of work, which includes oversight functions, which take us across the country; such sessions, especially during budget periods and such emergencies on issues concerning labour, education, health sector, defence, etc., should be part-time, too? If you sit down and consider all of the costs that these would incur, even if they were part-time, you will discover that part-time may even incur higher costs.

Consider flight tickets, hotel bills, logistics, and similar expenses. Now, what about the commitment and concentration that our jobs require? I believe those clamouring for a part-time legislature are just being mischievous or ignorant of what legislative business is all about. Instead, I will urge Nigerians to ensure that those elected to represent their various constituencies are competent and well qualified and also ensure that the executive is discouraged from unusual interference in the emergence of the National Assembly leadership to ensure that meaningful laws that would benefit Nigerians are churned out by the Assembly.

The state of democracy in Nigeria today calls for the support of parliamentarians. Nigerians need to support the federal lawmakers to ensure that we act as checks on the executive. Nigerians need to ensure that they elect qualified and competent people to be their representatives at the National Assembly, especially at the House of Representatives.

And as I said earlier, Nigerians should also be on their guard to ensure that the executives don’t interfere unnecessarily with the House of Representatives , especially in the emergence of its leadership. The House should be given a free hand to elect its leadership. It is when you have competent members in the House of Representatives and those who cannot be controlled by the executives as leaders that will promote the growth of democracy in Nigeria.

No matter how good an honourable member of the House of Representatives is or how long he raises his hand to move or contribute to a motion, the House leadership will not recognise him if he is not in their good books or the good books of the executives who control House leadership.

So, I will appeal to Nigerians to support the National Assembly to be as independent as possible as against calling for a part-time legislature.

Talking about competence, why do you think your party has an edge over other political parties in the forthcoming general election, especially in the presidential election?

From the analysis carried out by our political party, the forthcoming presidential election may not produce an immediate result. The President may not emerge from the first balloting. It may go into a second balloting and this may be between PDP and NNPP. APC may not even be in contention during the second balloting as its popularity is going down by the day.

What I would, however, advise Nigerians is that, just like I suggested for the legislature, Nigerians should not allow the issue of religion or ethnicity to determine their candidate of choice.

Rather, they should allow competence, political maturity, and political experience to be the major factors in determining who they vote for. What Nigeria needs now is a committed, competent person who has the required credentials and political experience to lead the country. If you look at all the leading presidential candidates, you will know that the NNPP candidate stands out. He has been a state governor, a minister, and a presiding officer at the National Assembly. Our candidate is the one who would give us a new Nigeria.

How would you rate NNPP in Katsina State and what assures you of victory for your party in the 2023 general elections?

First, if you look at all our candidates for the forthcoming general election in the state, you will discover that none of them is a pushover. All the candidates, right from those vying for the state House of Assembly, up to those going for the Federal House of Representatives seats and those going for the green chamber’s seats are people with both political experience and are eminently qualified. They are also those who have made their marks in their various constituencies. Our party will surprise many with the result of the first election. And definitely, we should consolidate our gains from the first election to record more successes in the second election.

Katsina State has suffered an infrastructural deficit in the last eight years. The state economy is comatose and there has not been real progress in the state due to bad governance. All these we are going to rectify when people vote for us to form the new government in the state; and so shall it be by God’s grace.

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