Rep Jagaba Adams Jagaba is the leader of Northern Legislative Caucus and a three term Member of the House of Representatives. He represents Kagarko/ Kachia Federal Constituency, Kaduna State in the House.
He also spoke on the House of Representatives in-house politics from 1999 to 2015 and how different speakers like Salisu Buhari, Ghali Umar Na'abba, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and current Speaker Dogara Yakubu emerged.
As a three term member, what has been your experience here in the green Chamber?
To God be the glory, the experience has been good. From 1999 to 2003 experience was a kind of foundation. When we came in, I mean from 1999, I was part of the people that worked to ensure that the then speaker, Salisu Buhari emerged. Later on, we worked for Ghali Umar Na'abba. I was chairman of a standing committee and did my best to preserve my people, I mean the northern region. Though it was tough, because our people did not understand, but I stood for what I felt was right. Am happy that, today, what I stood for is now benefiting the masses.
It seems all the people you've supported for speakership have always emerged. What has been the secret?
The truth of the matter is that I usually seek for God's face before going into anything. Since 1999 when we came, I was the one that single handedly defended Salisu Buhari before Northern leaders who did not want him to contest. It was after that defense, they now allowed him. I sought the face of God and knew that Salisu Buhari will emerge Speaker.
So, when he left the office by way of resignation, we did the same thing for Ghali Umar Na'abba and others who wanted to be speaker. I sought God's face again and convincingly, God told me Ghali Umar Na'abba is going to win. So, I worked for him and protected him from the beginning of his turbulent tenure to the end. When we came in 2011, after an eight year break, which wasn't funny at all, the party zoned the position of the speaker to the South- West but Aminu Waziri Tambuwal from the North West showed interest and I sought God's face again and it was clear that he was going to win.
I was the first to come out and tell our colleagues that Tambuwal was contesting for the office of the Speaker. I supported him, and I worked for him, so hard to ensure that he emerged Speaker. Today, the rest is history. This time around, I mean the 8th Assembly, my friend, the current speaker, Yakubu Dogara, came, against all odds, because the party did not zone the speakership to the North East, but South West. I sought for God's face, and convincingly, I knew that Dogara is going to be Speaker.
I protected my friend to the end and today, Dogara is the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Now, what am trying to tell you is that for everything I do, I seek the face of God for direction and God has never failed me in that regard. God showed me that these people will emerge speakers at the different times, and I followed those directions. So, my own was simple obedience to God's wish.
The green chamber always found itself in crises when it comes to house politics. How where you able to manage and are still managing the northern legislative caucus?
Well, the truth of the matter is that, some are born politicians, some learn in the process, while some pass through politics and yet some, allow politics pass through them. I want to tell you that my father was a great politician. Right from the womb, I can say that was where my political career began. When I was born, I found it easy to adopt. I don't have issues with relating with people.
Right now, am the Northern Leader, Legislative Caucus and as far as am concerned, I am going to bring my experience and make sure that this association functions very well for the benefit of Northerners and Nigerians. We will make sure that we speak with one voice. Anything that has to do with the north, we will defend our people and protect them against what I call ‘budgetary attack’. So, we have to do proper monitoring of the budget to ensure that our people get what they deserve.
I will keep doing that and I will also mobilize support from my colleagues so that we can tax ourselves and mobilize resources that will help our region. We have been doing that successfully and I want to guarantee you that this time around, we are going to do same. We will speak in protection of our people, not minding that President Buhari is from the North. The fact that President Buhari is from the North is not a guarantee that the northern interest is automatically protected.
If we discover that there are some policies that are anti-north, we will kick against them. Because as a President, he might not know everything that happens at all times because of the quantum of work on his table. But it is our sole responsibility at our own end to ensure that areas that need change, amendment or to be looked upon are tackled.
Your friend, I mean the Speaker of the House of Representatives is now having a smooth running of the House after some turbulence initially. How was your camp able to address the crises from zoning arrangement to assigning of committee members and chairmen?
Thank you very much. Let me tell you, some people became leaders by learning in the process. Some become leaders by going to school, read books and finally they become leaders. Some are natural leaders. And I want to tell you categorically that Rt Hon Dogara is a natural leader. He has this leadership instinct in him. Dogara is the finest young Nigerian I have ever met in my life. He doesn't have any hidden agenda in him. He loves everybody. He loves even his enemies. He does not wish even his enemies any evil. During those turbulent times and after, those who don't know him before started saying that the man, Dogara, has something unique. So, one after the other, they started mellowing down. When you meet the truth, one thing you discover is that whatever you do, the truth will still remain the truth. You cannot just change it. Dogara is an embodiment of a true Nigerian. Dogara, among men, to me, is a saint. So, Dogara is a role model to the younger generation, even to the older generation. You cannot find any fault in him. This is somebody that if he says yes, its yes, and if he says nay, it's nay. This is somebody that will not love you or like you because of religion or tribe. This is somebody that will like you because you are a Nigerian. And he is so God-fearing in whatever he does. God's hand is upon him. God, in His infinite mercy, brought that storm to calmness. God opened the eyes of the members who thought Dogara was either this or that to discover the truth about him and they mellowed down. And the truth about it is that people that are protecting him today are people who did not want him as Speaker at that time. And that contributed to the stability that we have in the House, and I tell you, that is not going to change.
Insecurity has caused a lot of trouble in the North. Some people are advocating for a North East Development Commission. What is your stand on this?
Well, it's okay. I don't have any issue with the commission but you see, we shouldn't be treating symptoms. We should go to the root causes. What are the causes of this insecurity in the North? We should handle those issues and not the symptoms. Now, if you did not treat the root cause, tomorrow there will be North East commission, North West Commission and every zone will begin to have its own commission. Maybe, it may even degenerate to state commissions. But what are the root causes?
The root causes is up to us, the Northerners, to tackle. If I see a Christian with a weapon, I should not keep quiet in the name of religion. Simply because am a Muslim, I see a fellow Muslim importing arms and ammunition, I should keep quiet. If I see a fellow Muslim having dangerous weapons I should not keep quiet, because he is a fellow Muslim. Simply because am a Christian and I see someone coming to Nigeria through the Chadian or Cameroonian border and the guy is a Christian so I'd keep quiet.
Simply because am I a Muslim, a Nigerian, and people from other parts of Africa are moving in illegally, I'll allow them settle illegally because we are of the same religion. And these people come with different agenda, problems and their way of life. They move in with guns and other dangerous weapons, and before you know it, both the Muslims and Christians are consumed just like the situation we now found ourselves in. But when we stand up to the challenge, any new visitor that comes, be it a Muslim or Christian, it does not matter, we should inform our families, we should inform our local chiefs that a visitor has come in.
The person must undergo a rigorous screening from immigration so that they can have that person's profile. But the moment we keep quiet in the name of faith, we are shooting ourselves on the leg. That has been the problem. That has been the root cause of this problem. We saw some things that our children were doing that were wrong, we kept quiet. See where we are. We saw the beginning of Boko Haram and we kept quiet.
See the consequences. We see people practicing what is contrary to the teachings of our faiths, we see them and we kept quiet. By the time they grow big and strong, everybody suffers. So, we need to keep our house together and call a spade a spade. If we are ready, I can confidently tell you that the North will be on the right path. But for now, sadly, it is just shadow chasing without going down to the root cause.
How can the country get to the root cause of these conflicts?
It's a collaborative effort. If we see our children doing or writing things that are not good, we should report them to the authorities. We should report to their relations that we saw them doing what is not right. We should report people we are of the same faith with who are doing what is not right. We should report people with weapons; we should report people that are shielding this people. The moment we are doing that, we are treating the root cause.
This present administration seems to have focused strongly on fighting corruption. As a former Chairman, House committee on Anti-graft, are you satisfied with the current war against corruption?
I am fully satisfied, very, very satisfied. Fighting corruption verbally with no corresponding action is not fight. Now, the Buhari administration is doing perfectly well as far as am concerned. People that have perpetrated corruption are solely responsible for the economic challenge that we have found ourselves in today. So, am very happy. Buhari, remarkably, even if he does not do any other thing, but can pursue this war against corruption, you know, Nigeria will be better of.
Let me tell you, many people think when you talk of corruption, people think it is mere thievery, mere stealing and that it has nothing to do with the nation. Let me tell you, corruption is worse than even the communal crises that we are talking about. Because corruption destroys the present generation and the generation yet unborn. It destroys the fabric of a country.
Generation upon generation would be affected as a result of corruption. Insurgents come and go, and what springs up insurgents and revolt all over, is corruption. People are stealing the money instead of investing the money. People are taking government money to be personal assets and that is why we don't have jobs, youth roaming the streets without jobs. They resort to crimes in order to live.
But if we resolve this issue of corruption, you'd found out that most of this crimes will be minimized because the youth will see no need of doing those bad things they do. Even this cultism that we are talking about, some youth joined so as to make money. But when the economy is buoyant, no Child will go and join a cult in order to survive.
Can we say that the anti-graft agencies now have the political backing to do their jobs?
Most government agencies, in my opinion, normally study the body language of their paymaster. If the paymaster is ready and wants to fight corruption, they will help him fight corruption. If the paymaster's body language suggests that it should be business as usual, they do business as usual.
So, the man at the helm of affairs is serious. Let's take EFCC for instance, the commission has studied the body language of their paymaster and discovered that the man meant it when he said he wants to fight corruption. Now all that matters is the body language of the president. The current president, his actions, his inactions suggests that corruption must be uprooted in Nigeria.
As far as I am concerned, the anti graft agencies are doing well. And in doing well they have remove the thinking that they should only fight the president's political opponents. Recently, even friends of the president have been arrested. And let me tell you, it is not only the friends of the president. Even if a brother of the president is involved, wait and see, he will be arrested. Justice should flow like water. The fight against corruption should be holistic. Nobody should be spared in this country.