Rep. Timothy Golu is the chairman House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Budget and Research. In this interview with KEMI YESUFU, he speaks on recent trending topics such as the stealing of the Senate’s mace and President Muhammadu Buhari calling Nigerian youths lazy. The member representing Pankshin/Kanke/Kanam Federal Constituency of Plateau State also spoke on why he wants to return to National Assembly for a second term.
Many are of the opinion that a good number of members of the House of Representatives will not be re-contesting because they say their time in the House hasn’t been that profitable. Some members, say they aren’t really getting return on investment, could it be that the reverse is the case for you and that’s why you’ve declared for a second term?
I have indicated interest to return to the House in 2019. But for me, I wish to return to complete an unfinished job. I have a mandate and I desire to meet the targets of the mandate. The mandate is to ensure that I attract and lobby for projects and interventions for my people. My constituency is one of the most disadvantaged in the country in different terms. I come from a constituency of hardworking and God fearing people. My people are ready to work for their survival, but the opportunities are hard to find. We aren’t those states or LGAs, where you have oil or other commercial ventures, that our people can key into. So, we have to rely heavily on the Federal Government and because of this, we need a strong presence at the federal level and without a strong presence, you can’t even identify where there are opportunities or how to attract development to the people. Yes, there people who can do this in the MDAs. But for me, the most credible and legitimate way of harnessing opportunities for your people is from the position of an elected representative. It’s not about my wanting to be a ranking member like you mentioned. Yes, it will be a plus and I will be returning with more experience to even help my people much more and in a better way. But so far, I haven’t disappointed them. I have been able to attract development to my constituency in the last three years. Is it road projects, is it water projects? When you talk about empowerment programmes and finding job opportunities, I have done a lot of that. But my constituency is still far behind in terms of development and that’s why we need an experienced member in the House to work even harder.
Are you one those that have made enough money in the National Assembly to fund a re-run?
Where is the money you are talking about? If it is about making money, I wouldn’t be seeking a second term. Honestly, I am propelled by the will to do more for my people. During the last primaries, somebody gave some delegates N250 thousand each, yet they voted for me. They know that somebody can give them N250 thousand, then you won’t see them in another four years. But the person who didn’t give you such an amount of money, but is sincere and committed, can come back frequently with jobs, roads, water projects and all. When you work for your people or support them with a clean heart, they will reward you with their loyalty. I have been in the State House of Assembly, now I am in the National Assembly and I haven’t seen the money people talk about. I am not one of those whose happiness and peace of mind is dependent on having money. Some people cannot sleep when they don’t have money in their pocket or bank account, not me.
So are you saying you are one of the very few poor politicians?
From the religious perspective, I won’t say yes to that. I won’t cage myself by using negative words to describe who I am or what state I am in. I can never say, ‘I am suffering’. Words are spirits that’s why you don’t see them and when they are spoken, they don’t fall on shallow ground. People play with words that’s why they are suffering. I hope to go higher when it comes to helping not just individuals, but helping communities meet their aspirations. That’s my goal in life, for people to see me and be happy. And I believe that you really cannot make people happy without giving when you can. My goals aren’t tied to making money only.
The impression you have given is that you don’t play money politics. How then have you gotten this far in politics, winning three elections?
Number one reason for my being here is God. I cannot explain it…. It’s by God’s grace that I have gotten to where I am today. You also have to be honest. You don’t have to be perfect, just be honest with your people. In Plateau State, we don’t have anything like godfathers. In fact, in most cases the people will not support or vote for you, if they believe you are the government candidate. The people prefer that you’re an independent minded person. They prefer that you are a person they can talk to and you take decisions on your own.
If a young journalist wanting to contest for office meets you, how would advise him?
I would advise that he is free with the people. He/she should be honest with them. Don’t be arrogant, rather, respect and help the people. The people will see your sincerity. You can even disarm those people who don’t like you with your conduct. You have to look unto God for his special grace. The truth is, when it is time for election, there will be people you will oppose you. But I have kept to my philosophy of respecting, working for the people and that’s why when I stand for election things fall into place eventually. I also haven’t forgotten how I used to analyse politics and politicians as a journalist. So, I try not to be on the wrong side. I know that if I am not doing the right things, that’s how others will analyse my actions and place me where I wouldn’t like to be placed. That’s why, if I am not in the chamber for sitting, I am at a committee meeting. If I am not at both places, I must be out on oversight functions. I am always on my toes fighting for opportunities for my people. I know that if you stay one with the people and you do your very best, they will support you.
You have made your wishes for a second term in the House known. But it seems the rest of the politicians in the Plateau PDP are quiet. Why is your party so quiet, with only Gen Jeremiah Oseni (Retd) declaring his intention to run for governorship?
Well, we are picking up. At the national level, we have overcome our troubles and we have re-emerged stronger. At the state level, we are strategising and when you are strategising, you don’t talk too much. Sometimes, politics is not about making noise but putting your house in order and when you talk, you speak with certainty.
You started out in politics as a young person and you have worked all these years for your people. You have been effective. But President Muhammadu Buhari recently said, Nigerian youths are lazy and they want to live a good life without working for it. What’s your opinion about Nigerian youths?
I don’t know the context based on which the president made the statement. Maybe he used one situation, but he shouldn’t have generailsed. I don’t think the president would just say publicly that Nigerian youths are lazy. He might have been trying to talk about a particular situation, the best thing would have been for him to guide himself with that situation and not generelise. Now, the youths are angry with him for generalising. Nigerian youths are not lazy. If given the opportunity the youths can do better. You remember that the National Assembly passed the Peace Corps Bill, so that youths can be engaged in building peace in a new kind of way. We wanted the youths to be involved with promoting peace. It is part of the responsibility of those in government to provide youths with opportunities, they can build on.
Still talking about youths, some of them were led into the Senate and they stole the mace. Don’t you think situations like this one makes certain people say youths are not living up to expectation?
Let’s look at it from two perspectives. First is that, the whole episode was sponsored by some people. Then, for a young person to allow himself to be used for such an act smacks of a lack of intelligence. What is the aim of anyone snatching the mace? They picked up the mace, another mace was brought in and the senators continued with plenary. The man who was the mastermind sat down. You didn’t want the sitting to take place and when you saw that the mace was replaced, you sat under the authority of the replaced mace. It’s the dumbest thing anyone could have done. What happened in the Senate was the dumbest crime, committed by the dumbest people. There were cameras recording the proceedings of the sitting, yet, you came out to deny that you were not involved in the incident.
Some keen observers have described the snatching of the mace as a strong reaction to an 8th Assembly that has suspended three lawmakers for long periods, leaving their constituents without representation.
Let me tell you that it has nothing to do with what you’re saying. Is there any organisation without laws? Even animals groups are organised. Is it the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), which you belong to that doesn’t have a code of conduct? So is it out of place for the NUJ to suspend a member for breaching its laws? The NBA, NMA, even student groups have rules and can suspend members for breaking these rules, talk more of the National Assembly. The people saying that the snatching of the Senate mace is as result of members being suspended should drop this lame argument. How can you be trying to argue against members protecting the institution of the National Assembly by ensuring we all keep to the rules? If we allow people behave anyhow they like, we would be destroying the National Assembly as an institution, we would have allowed some people toy with our democracy.