Electoral bill amendment: National Assembly working for Nigerians – Sen Nora Daduut Interview

Senator (Prof) Nora Daduut, Plateau South, in this interview, speaks on the re-amendment of the Electoral Act (2010) Amendment Bill, insecurity in the country. Excerpts

By Haruna Salami

Q: Let’s look at the section 84 of the Electoral Act Bill, which has to do with how parties recruit their candidates for election, which was restricted to only one channel before you widened it today. How do you describe the action of the Senate today and the implication for our political and democratic development?

A: Well, I think I want to commend the Senate not because I’m part of the Senate, but I think we need to first of all, put the people, that is Nigerians on the alert that we are working for them and with them. So, in consideration of Nigerians and their desires and their expectations, the Senate had to have a committal, you know.. that is to say to review what had been passed and sent to the president and in due course observed the areas that were, let me call it, they were not quite clear and made a very important move to reconsider the issues observed by Mr. President.And for this reason, the Senate had also agreed and accepted to widen the scope for political parties to make their choice. And that is because Nigerians, first of all, are very important to the growth and the political aspirations of the individuals that is the individual politicians. So the fact that the Senate now looked into the observations presented by Mr. President, certainly shows that the Senate is working for Nigerians and with Nigerians. 

Q: Although the issue of security is a general one in the country, the isolated case of killing of passengers traveling from Bauchi through Plateau state where you come from to their home state of Ekiti is still fresh. What is your comment on this?

A: You see, Plateau state is, let me call , a bridge between the North and the South because we’re in the central, and making a statement that the people traveling from Bauchi were Ekiti people going back to their state is like saying that we are hostile to strangers. No, the transit, of course, is normal because you have to cross Plateau state to get to Bauchi, except if you go  through the North, that is Kano. But if you are coming from the central or from the Southeast, you must pass through Plateau state and there was no case of hostility. It was, let me say, accidental that people were coming, I think they went on a religious mission and they were passing through, but you see when others or individuals are apprehensive of one another, they will think these people were coming with some bad or ill intentions. It was a misconception, misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the fact that the Ekiti contingents were traveling, therefore there was an attack on them that was misinterpreted. It was just the usual human reaction to defend himself. I don’t think everybody knew that these people were coming into Jos and going back home, but those that knew and misinterpreted, is their own individual understanding, and they felt they could defend themselves or attack them. It wasn’t intentional. 

Q: You may I agree with me that the state especially your senatorial district and the North has had its fair share of this crisis in the country. From 1999. several commission of inquiry were set up by successive governments in the state. We have the Ajibola. Abisoye and Solomon Lar commissions of inquiry. What do you think is responsible for this incessant crises?

A: When you say share, part of, it is as if they are good values that we need to share. No. The fact that they instituted boards of inquiries is to first of all to  forestall other crisis because when you don’t know the genesis of a crisis, then you cannot arrive at the solution. The fact that these boards or committees of inquiry were instituted was to restore confidence in the system. It is true that the crisis seemed to be incessant like in other places or in other parts of the country, but this also demands that we need to cooperate with the security agents, who need to cooperate with the government as citizens, otherwise setting up board of inquiries may not solve the issue. We need to cooperate. We should also be part and parcel of investigating and also informing government or security agents about what is happening because we live in an environment that is insecure. So, whatever you think is happening around you, you should take it up as an individual to report. The Ajibola or Solomon Lar board of enquiries, did not fail. It’s just that it also nurtured some other approaches to address this situation, and it’s unfortunate that Plateau state has suffered just like others. I believe that we should take it as a matter of responsibility to be our brothers’ keepers by also helping the security agencies.

Q: You are a professor (academic), a Dame (Knight) and a senator (politician). How do you combine this?

A: I was earning a living, so I became a professor through the process because I was working to earn a living. That was how I got to my status as a professor; and Dame, I have a faith and I also commit myself to my faith. That’s why the Pope gave me the award in the church because the Dame is a Papal award from Rome. It’s not because I am holy or holy of holies. No, I commit myself to my faith, to my church and by the grace of God, it was recognized. I’m not claiming anything more than what I can do.. I think the church felt I was contributing in terms of my commitment to my own belief.