By NBF News

Lawyer, activist and former Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (MOB), represents Ekiti Central Constituency Two in the House of Representatives.

Bamidele, who is the Chairman, House ad-hoc Committee on Information spoke with selected journalists at his Iyin-Ekiti country home at the Weekend after his 48th birthday lecture organised by his Committee of Friends and Associates at the Millenium Hall of Christ college, Ado Ekiti where  he said that the collapse of the Peoplesdemocratic Party (PDP) would be in the best interest of the country. RAZAQ BAMIDELE was at the special media parley. He reports:

Expectations and reality on ground in the House
Definitely, I will say that by the grace of God, I was not overwhelmed. But I must say there are some forms of realisation which has helped my understanding of what is the National Assembly and my own understanding of what I will be able to deliver as an elected member of the parliament.

I am happy that largely about 70 percent of what I though would be the situation and what I thought I would be able to do remain intact. About 70 percent of the things I thought I would be doing, I am trying to adjust based on realities to do them.

Out of sheer ignorance, I had said to my constituents that I would surrender my constituency allowances to a management committee that would comprise party leaders and members of civil society and some community leaders to decide how to disburse the allowances to what projects. Again, I also said, out of anxiousness to do something for my constituents that I would surrender my salary, which is personal to me, again, to the use of my constituency. And how that would be, would be determined by that management committee.

But getting to the National Assembly, I realised first that it was not the case that elected members of the parliament would be given constituency project allowances because there was nothing like that.

With regards to my salary, I remain committed to surrendering my salary to my constituency. I have been paid for the months of June and July. It has been paid into the escrow account to be managed by the said management committee.

But basically, it is important to know that the idea of not surrendering my constituency project allowance to my constituency is that, members of the parliament are only allowed to identify needed projects within their communities. These you will recommend to the executive arm of the government and to relevant ministries that would have such projects in their budget proposals for the years ahead to ensure that such projects are carried out.

As we speak now, a team of seven people from the Federal Ministry of the Environment, who I have mobilised on my personal note are here to assess the erosion damage situation in my constituency.

Obasanjo's call for Tambuwal's resignation
Well, my reaction is that the call is extremely unfortunate. And I also want to believe that even though General Olusegun Obasanjo is the PDP's Board of Trustees Chairman, my worry is that the call was not even in consonance with the PDP's principle of zoning. And for once, I want to believe that he did not speak for the party. To begin with, I think the statement is a direct confrontation with the popular feelings of Nigerian populace. It also smears of a form of allergy to the independence of the legislator that we are all clamouring for. About 360 members of the parliament should be able to determine who their leader should be. The Speaker must have the confidence of the House that he wants to lead for him to be able to perform such a role.

The PDP members should even consider themselves lucky that in a parliament where we have more than 160 members from the opposition parties, they have a Tambuwal, a PDP member, who enjoys overwhelming support and confidence of the people who are from the opposition parties including a leader of an opposition party. PDP cannot have it better. And it is obvious now that some leaders of the PDP would just prefer anyone as long as they can manipulate him. They prefer stooge to somebody who enjoys popular support.

Tambuwal's qualities
And who are we talking about? We wont just support anybody. We supported somebody who has been in that House for the third time who understands the workings of the House. Who also, even from our own investigation has also been above board. And as much as possible, he is also a credible member of the civil society. I don't want to know where Tambuwal comes from. But I do know that he is a respected member of the Benchers.

As a lawyer, that is the highest decision making body of that profession. I am also happy that he was one time a member of the National Working Council of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA). I am happy that he is respected, even, internationally within the comity of international parliamentarians. He just came back from the conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentarians where everybody though that for once, Nigeria has taken a right decision by electing somebody like that as Speaker.

It is not about south or west, north or east. It is about credibility. If the former President Obasanjo said zoning should not be an issue and he supported President Goodluck Jonathan, and everybody voted for President Jonathan, at what point was he now committed to the south west that he is now saying Tambuwal should resign because he disrupted the macabre dance called the PDP zoning arrangement?

And he did not only say he should resign, he also prophesied rather rightly that if Tambuwal and Emeka Ihedioah  do not resign, it would mean the beginning of the demise of the PDP. For me, it is a prophesy that must be fulfilled. But Tambuwal will not resign and Emeka will not resign. And these are some of the good people in the PDP. And of course it would be in the interest of Nigerians for PDP to die because there are other parties that would absorbed the good people from the PDP.

We have been on the floor of the Parliament for two months now, we have discovered that there are people who are progressive in the PDP to work with. The 108 members of the PDP in the house, it got the members of the opposition for Tambuwal to get 250 votes out of 360 members in the House.

For us, we are people willing to talk Nigeria, not talk of PDP or any political party, not talk north or south, east or west, but talk Nigeria. Talk employment, talk job creation and infrastructural development. Talk about democratic framework that will ensure good governance for the people. Those are the issues for us. It is not about where anybody comes from.

So Nigeria has reached a stage where ego coup or civilian coup that can hurt the growth of the nascet democracy would not be tolerated.

Should Jonathan also resign?
And of course if anybody has to resign because they want to re-fix the zoning palaver in the PDP, it doesn't have to be Tambuwal. Tambuwal was not the only person who was elected that led to the disruption of the zoning arrangement in the PDP. So, they should get back to the root and stop blaming the man.

Chief Obasanjo should have called on Mr. President to resign. Would that not be an anarchical call? Would he have called on the Secretary to the Federal Government to resign? Would he have asked the Vice President to resign in order to fix PDP problem? Why Tambuwal?

And Tambuwal is the only person, among all these people who enjoys double mandates. The President was elected, direct election by Nigerians. Everyone of the 360 members of the House of Representatives was elected by direct elections by Nigerians. And with that mandates, we went again to elect Tambuwal on behalf of Nigerians.

No one, except Tambuwal enjoys double mandates. So, why call on Tambuwal to resign? It shows lack of respect for our democracy, lack of respect for rule of law, and it smears some allergy to the independence of the legislature which this country loves so much. Legislature is the bastion of our democracy. What Tambuwal has been doing in the last six weeks is to discuss legislative agenda for this country. And I want to put it on record that, this is the first time in the history of this country when the parliament will come up with a clear legislative agenda for the country to say this is our working document, this is our ideology and it is on the basis of this ideology that we want to be held responsible by Nigerians at the end of our four year term.

Why want to disrupt what is going on? A nation has an unusual parliament. And time will tell because we have our own statistics. It is not about number. But about how many lawyers in that house, how many journalists, how many engineers, how many medical doctors. We represent all facets of life and we want to tackle all the problems of the country together. And I don't think we need any attempt to detract us.

Idea of birthday lecture
For me, birthday lecture has become a way of life. I could have travelled with my family, friends and some other people to Dubai or London to enjoy the weekend and all that. I celebrate my birthday to encourage friends, associates and well meaning Nigerians to come together and enjoy intellectual discourses to always assess where we are, why we got to where we are and project into the future where we are going. This is because there are so many issues that need to be dealt with. There are various crisis situations that Nigeria nation has to address. We are like sitting on a keg of gun powder. We have to keep on talking on all these. And for me, if it is on my birthday that I can get everybody together to address all these issues, so be it.

I will spend the rest of the year talking about it. But on my birthday, I want some Nigerians to gather and discuss it. And so, it has become like a way of life for me. And I am happy that peple are already buying into it. We had five already. Professor Julius Iyhobere delivered the first lecture, Dr. Kayode Fayemi followed. Then we had Odia Ofiem and last year we had Professor Itse Sagay (SAN). This year, the organisers felt we should look inward to pick somebody from the Committee of Friends and associates who is also closest to the youth generation. And that was why we picked Hon. Kayode Opeifa, Commissioner for Transportation in Lagos state who definitely is a product of our collective struggle. And you will agree with me that he performed excellently.