Harmless looking but iron-willed Hon. Bade Falade is known for his bluntness on issues and he sure finds it quite unbearable hiding his feelings or playing sycophancy. Though his profile boasts of ex-this and ex-that, the former federal lawmaker is humble and he wears simplicity like a badge. In this interview with Akinlolu Abayomi, the Ejigbo, Osun State born politician spoke on why lawmaking should not be made a part-time, why he is against unicameral legislature and other issues.
People have at different times advocated for the idea of a part-time arrangement for lawmaking business at the federal and the state levels; what is your take on this as a former federal lawmaker?
Thank you very much. The business of legislature to me is not an easy thing, it is a pity that we have trivialized it in this part of the world but where democracy itself originated from we know that law making is a serious business. Take for instance, people think law making only entails sitting in a room, engaging in a robust argument and returning home; it is beyond that. There are the duties of oversight which is quite different from the primary assignment; the primary assignment is when Honourable members or the lawmakers are meant to sit in a chamber and discuss issues of national importance but the act of law making goes beyond that, there are lots of paper works to be done, there are lots of research works to be done. In the middle of lawmaking is appropriation, appropriation has to do with budgeting, budgeting itself is a process, it is not a day affair. It cannot be a part-time arrangement when you budget, you appropriate for the executive and you follow it up with oversight functions. These cannot be done by a part-time arrangement even when people are having it on a fulltime basis in this part of the world, there are still vacuums, you see places where democracy itself originated-the United States, UK which we are emulating directly or indirectly; the act of law making is not on a part-time basis, it is a fulltime business.
But there are countries where they operate a part-time arrangement and USA and the United Kingdom that you made reference to, people believe the mentioned countries have the financial wherewithal to sustain such an arrangement as opposed to what obtains here?
Nigeria is enormously blessed, unlike some other countries of the world, by the time we make law making to be part-time, that means you will over-indulge or concentrate too much power in the hands of the executive, by the time the executive becomes powerful, as powerful as that, there can be issues of flagrant misuse of power both the executive power, the appropriation power and some other powers you can think of. There is the saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. By the time you make the business of law making a part-time business, it will be like you want the power of the legislature reduced and legislature is an arm of government like the executive and the judiciary. It is like saying that the job of judges and the people in the judicial sector should be made a part-time after all the judges come to the court rooms, sit for 2 hours and go away. Why don’t you recommend that judges should also operate on a part-time basis? What is spectacular about the roles of the governor of a state, it can as well be a part-time job; but in this part of the world, people think that may be because of the external attitudes being put up by some legislators and going by the numbers of the legislators in the country that legislators are found mainly within the reach of the people. People see them regularly and they are more than one, they are many, people think and ask what these lots of people are doing but it is the responsibility earmarked for them by the constitution as the representatives of the people. It is my opinion that lawmaking business should be on a full time basis like that of the executive and the judiciary.
Some have also suggested the idea of having a unicameral legislature rather than the bicameral legislature that we currently run?
Believe me sincerely, I align with the view of having a national assembly with one chamber from my personal experience. There are a lot of duplications in laws passed at the House of Representatives; it will require the concurrence of the senate before it becomes a law but in the wisdom of those who introduced bicameral legislature it is to bridge the gap between states to give Nigeria the true federal postures. Take for instance, Bayelsa of eight local governments is having three senators with Kano of 44 local government areas and Osun has 30 local governments. The rationale behind bicameralism in the legislature is to give us a true federal posture. But coming to its practicability you discover that there are duplications of role which makes lawmaking cumbersome in the country because the concurrence of the two chambers is required on all the laws.
There is so much secrecy attached to the remunerations of the national assembly members and people have asked questions on several instances on the seeming secrecy?
Thank you, the secrecy is not only in the national assembly, the secrecy is everywhere, why would the governors in the state not disclose their security votes, why are judges in the court not telling us what they take. The secrecy is not about the national assembly, it is about the Nigeria system that is becoming corrupt, so when people say National Assembly I laughed at them because it is not the national assembly alone. Over the years, it has been the more people look, the less you see. I want to believe that with the passage of the freedom of information bill, people should be free to enquire and know, there should no longer be secrecy about the remuneration of any public officer in the country, it is not lawful. It is not in the spirit of the FOI bill. So whoever is interested in knowing should seek to know and if he is denied he should toe the path of the law so as to make this open. I don’t believe that remuneration of public officer in any of the three arms of government should not be made public.
People expect the law makers to make law and to spread largesse and empowerment schemes which are not part of their constitutional roles?
Ok, come to think of it, law makers are elected by the people and the opinion of the people is that the law makers can as well bring developments to them, people cannot decipher between law makers and the executives’ representations so more often than not, enthusiasm and overzealousness have made law makers to delve into the issue of developmental indices and these bring about the issue of constituency project.
The essence of constituency project is for lawmakers to place themselves on development map, which is to be executed by the executive, so as to ensure geographical spread and wider spread of development projects within the country, within the state and at a particular given fiscal year. The constituency projects within this context are to be identified by law makers but not to be executed by them.
When I was at the National Assembly, we did not execute projects, I don’t know whether they are executing now, we only identify project for specific locations. You are not to appoint any contractor to do it on your behalf. It is the business of the executive to do that and between me and you if that is what constituency project has been and is going to be. I think, it is still the best, it is going to assist the executive to geographically spread the development projects for the benefit of the people and the entire nation.
You have been a local government chairman and a law maker; which one was the most challenging?
Good, believe me sincerely, law making is an art, which whoever goes into it must learn. You can be a professor of law, when you get to the legislature or when you get to the assembly, you just have to learn the rules and practice in the hallow chamber. It is quite different from what is read in the book. So that is why I call law making an art. It is like someone who wants to become a tailor, someone wants to become a bricklayer, a lay-man cannot do it. It is a professional calling, so it is challenging, it is beyond what people see, beyond the arguments that is being done in the plenary; that is why you discovered that law makers are trained as soon as they get into the house; so much money is expended on the law makers to be trained nationally and internationally, so that is why you see that the first tenure of four years for law makers might not be sufficient. It is not even in the best interest of the country to be removing or replacing law makers every four years considering the quantum of money that has been spent on them locally and internationally. If you have trained a set of law makers in four years and you send them out, the new people coming by the time they are mastering the job of law making, you ask them to go again, you are not doing yourself any good. But in this part of the country, people have seen law making as a way of making money. So whoever has made his own for four years should go; by the time a lawmaker spends four years, that is when he starts becoming confident of even standing to talk in the hallow chambers. If you look at it critically, you will discover, that out of the members in the house of reps and the senate, it is the same set of people that always talk. So it is not in the interest of any constituency to be changing its lawmakers within the period of four years. There is this practice in the house that if you are not a ranking member, if you have not been in the house for the first four years, you might not be given responsibility like the house committee chairman, like senate committee chairman, and when you are not one, you don’t even become closer to the top as to even influence development to the advantage of your people or knowing the right from the left in the art of law making.
You are regarded as a grassroots man, what have you been doing, what have you done, what are the strategies adopted, and what are your ways of life?
Before anybody can be a grassroots man; you have to live with your people, you don’t have to be far away from them, many people who had the opportunity of serving one term in the National Assembly in Abuja remain there and stay away from the people. When election approaches, they bring money to buy followers, people don’t seem to have confidence in them. I lived with my people and that factor endears me to them, it makes me to appreciate their problems, there is no strategy anyone could apply than being closer to the people he wants to represent. You can’t be far away from the people that you want to represent, that kind of representation would be uneven, for a representation to be proper and adequate, you have to be closer to the people you represent, that is the first strategy, the other one is intervening in their problems, sharing in their grief and joyful moments when they see you as being part of them; that you share in their sorrows, joys, then you are part of them and mind you, you must at least be ready to grant them little financial assistance from time to time so as to make them see you as a last resort helper.
In specific terms, could you give us insight into your achievements as the Chairman, Ejigbo Local Government?
Yes, I became the executive chairman of Ejigbo Local Government in March 1997, and it is on record that I have been the youngest chairman that has ever ruled that Local Government. I was elected in a popular election and before I became the chairman, I was a staff of Local Government service in Osun State. I know where I was coming from. I have been staying at home from my childhood, I attended my primary school in Ejigbo, I did my modern school in Ejigbo, I did my secondary in Ejigbo, it was only when I finished my secondary school that I went for a higher school certificate (HSC) at Ede before I eventually entered the university. So when I became the chairman, there were some vantage places within the town that were not properly used, there was a motor garage in the heart of the town that was an eyesore, I removed the motor garage from that place to the outskirt of the town and built a state-of-art shopping complex there, that was the ultra modern shopping complex at Gbamoge, and to a large extent our people are businessmen. An average Ejigbo man is into trading, you trade in shop, so immediately after that, we quickly put in place 20 units of lockup shops within a record time of 60 days; that has remained unbeatable till today, 20 units of lockup shops in an area called Popo. There is a maternity centre that belongs to the local government and there is an adjoining land that faced a major road in Ejigbo. I took advantage of that space and with the mega resources at the disposal of the local government, I swung into action. I put up the 20 units of lock up shops within 60 days. In fact, when the officers and men of the Nigeria War College came to Osun State in 1995 and assessed the activities of the state, I was adjudged the best local government chairman going by the physical projects. And that has been the beginning of my politics in Ejigbo local government and I have been representing my people since then. I was the Executive Chairman, Osun State Water Corporation during the first term of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and it was from there that I moved to the House of Reps in 2007. I wanted to go for a second term in 2011 but there was a tsunami across the South-west in spite of the fact that the federal government still considered me worthy of appointment as Chairman, Board of the Federal Medical Centre, Katsina.