OrderPaperToday – The member representing Zaria federal constituency of Kaduna State, Mr. Tajudeen Abbas, has been quite productive so far in the current House of Representatives. In this brief encounter with Lizzy Chirkpi, Mr. Abbas outlines his personal legislative and broad political achievements thus far. This interview is part of our NASSReportCard series which chronicles the 8th National Assembly and its members since 2015. Excerpts:
How has your journey been in the political arena?
I first won election into the federal House of Representatives in 2011 under the platform of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC. I was also the deputy chairman, committee on Legislative Compliance. I was also privileged to be a member of the ad- hoc committee which investigated the fuel subsidy issue in 2012.
Can you share with us your greatest achievement as a legislator?
I have always told my people that you cannot judge a legislator by the number of projects he is able to bring but the number of laws he is able to make for the good governance of the people. I’m proud to say in the last three years I have been able to sponsor 41 bills and out of these number 2 have already made it to Mr. President awaiting his assent. The bills are: the vigilante group of Nigeria which we believe would benefit a lot of people in terms of security and would also employ a lot of people when passed. The second bill has to do with Chartered Institute of Nigeria which we believe when established would help boost our transport sector. I also have 20 other bills which are in between second and third readings. I have another 23 bills in the pipeline awaiting to be presented before the House.
We would like you to tell us what actually transpired in that adhoc committee that investigated the fuel subsidy in 2012?
You know that issue came by way of a motion when a colleague then felt Nigerians were exploited by a way of that subsidy scheme. The committee was set up and we were given the mandate to investigate the matter, particularly the round tripping by oil marketers. What do I mean by round tripping, those marketers who had oil to deliver only on paper. As of that year Nigerians were made to pay trillions of naira wasted in the name of fuel subsidy. As of 2010, 2011 to 2012 our national budget was being used to fund fuel subsidy. So we felt it was a serious issue that we needed to investigate and find out what was really happening and thank God we were able to make history. Over 150 oil marketers were called to come make their submissions on the issue and at the end of the day (we) screened out more than six oil marketers who claimed were importing oil for the country. We also ascertained that more than 60% of the subsidy claims were just frivolous and on paper. We also went ahead to indict more than 25 companies whom we found guilty of round tripping. Our hearing later prompted the Senate which engaged in similar hearing. However, surprisingly, after that stress we went through to bring out facts nothing has been heard of that report till date.
The chairman of that committee, Mr. Farouk Lawan, was accused of collecting bribe from one of the oil marketers. As an insider what do you know about that matter?
That is what we heard but whether that story was right or wrong the committee was not directly involved. From the statements made so far by the chairman of that committee he has not said there was any connivance between him and members of that adhoc committee. However, that matter is before the court now so I cannot tell whether he was guilty or not because it is still an allegation. We would still wait for the final verdict.