By Marie-Therese Nanlong
In this interview, Mr. Bitrus Kaze who represented the Jos South/Jos East Federal Constituency of Plateau State in the House of Representatives between 2007 and 2015 speaks on his experience among other national issues. Excerpts:
Having been in the National Assembly since 2007 to 2015, have you reflected on the journey and would you say that your constituency, Jos South/Jos East is better now than you met it?
It is better for my constituents to answer for me as reflecting whether the constituency is better than I met it. I believe that in the last eight years that I represented the Jos South/Jos East federal constituency, I had done my best to make issues bothering our people more known than they were when I stepped in.
So what are your next plans after your time in the House?
I remain in active politics; I don’t really have a defined plan for me because man proposes God disposes. In the course of the evolution of Nigeria’s political, democratic experience, a lot of things are going to happen. This is the first time we are going to have a ruling party in the history of Nigeria all of a sudden becoming an opposition party. I hope to play a role in ensuring the PDP regains its feet. We have a group of members who have left parliament who believe that we should not leave the PDP and that we should support all organs of the party from the national to the state, to the local government even the wards in giving courage, in assuring the party that no matter how bad things look, we will remain and salvage whatever is left of the party. So, for the immediate days to come, I will engage myself in that wise and you never can really tell what God has for it is only He alone that knows but I can assure you of my commitment to developing the party to continuously represent issues that matter to my constituency even after leaving office.
I may not be a member of the House, but I will still be a citizen and native of this constituency, so whatever bothers the Jos South/Jos East constituency, Plateau North and Plateau state if not the whole nation, I am free to speak about and I guarantee you, I will continue to do that.
What do you see as the major challenges facing the 8th Assembly?
Now, as to the challenges of the 8th Assembly, it is rather unfortunate the high replacement rate that we have after elections. Legislative work is not learnt in the classroom; it is a job you learn with your hands on the desk and you don’t learn with experience overnight, it takes time. The trainings, the exposures, the experiences gathered by members over the years once more will be lost. But it is not totally bad because I have been in a country like Nigeria and like a constituency I come from, where if not for zoning in the first place, I wouldn’t have gone there. So certainly, if I came, I should be willing to make space for another person to go. So, whereas we want legislators to remain but we cannot take our eyes from the fact that this is Nigeria with so many tribes, so many diversities, sometimes we just have to tolerate things a bit.
The 8th assembly is going to have serious problems and I will compare it with the 4th assembly in 1999 when Obasanjo came on board. The 8th assembly will work with a President who has never been subject to legislative powers. He had ruled as a Military Head of State, he ruled in the PTF without being subjected to oversight. For a man of over 70 years all of a sudden be subjected to questions by people he literary gave birth to is not going to be an easy experience and I have repeatedly pleaded with my colleagues that as they take seat, they must bend backward for General Buhari but he too must gear up, he must brace up and ensure that he understands the workings of legislature, the workings of parliament and that the wheel of lawmaking by nature does not roll very fast, it takes time.
He needs to understand that he cannot do them without the support of the National Assembly, it is not possible.
What were your challenges and do you have any regrets in your eight years of service?
I am not sure I have any regrets, since the question was asked, I have been thinking, I am not really sure I have any regrets and yes, I had challenges and I almost lost my life in this job and there were several times I went through life threatening situations because of the work, but whatever people think makes me a hero at home makes me villain outside and whatever make people so happy with me because of what I did; makes another person feels so angry. You must stand for something, if you stand with good; evil will fight you, if you stand for evil, naturally, good will fight you. I had stood for something and not everyone wants it, that is the challenge but that is the nature of the job and that is why I say yes, I might have offended people but I never woke up one day and deliberately plotted to offend anybody.