I won’t allow anyone to demean our people – Ogembe

Sir, let’s look at the security challenge in Kogi state, but with particular reference to your district, where incessant killings and alleged high handedness of security agencies are becoming the order of the day, what is your view?

First of all, I will like you to focus your mind on the fact that I was a former elected Executive Chairman of Okene local government and the import of that is that I have confronted similar challenges in the past with positive outcomes during my tenure. From my experience, the duty of government at all levels is to guarantee peace and security of lives and property. In the recent time, government’s efforts has been inadequate in ridding Kogi Central of crimes, because it takes a lot of experience and gathering of information which must be processed with due diligence and intelligence. The approach needs to change to forestall a situation where the people will lose total confidence in governments’ approach, because the people I represent are not animals rather they are first class citizens and I won’t allow anyone to demean them no matter how highly placed.

I commend the Chief of Army Staff on the recent Operation Lion Roar, which was successful and professionally carried out. I make bold to say that the Nigerian Army and other security agencies have distinguished themselves by making sure that they didn’t act anyone’s script. There has been alleged and heightened cases of missing persons, extra judicial killings and abuse of power against innocent or non-convicted citizens which is detrimental to the objective of smoking out the criminals. My position is that no innocent citizen of Kogi Central should be harassed or killed unjustly for whatever reason and I urge government at all levels to know that the soul of an innocent person will always cry for justice. We are not in a jungle neither are we in a war zone therefore, I will not watch my constituents get killed because of their race, beliefs, religion or political affiliation,

I thank the Chief of Army Staff for truncating perceived planned genocidal killings in our land.  Similarly, I sincerely commend the efforts of Mr. President in curbing breach of security particularly, in the North East and his efforts in reduction of crime has been consistent across the country. Mr. President has also ensured that security agencies carry out their duties professionally with less impunity.

I want to use this opportunity to appeal to all our security agencies not allow some desperate politicians to influence their operations or be used to victimize opposition for selfish interest. The duty of the security agencies is to protect lives and property of all Nigerians irrespective of political or religious inclination.

I want our people to know that the rights of all citizens of Nigeria and that of Kogi Central Senatorial district are guaranteed under our constitution. Nobody can be enslaved or cowed. So, my advice to our people is that  they should go about their religious and political pursuit without any fear of intimidation, irrespective of  were the threat is coming from. As their representative, I will continue to ensure that my people are treated with all fairness and dignity. The President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, believes in fairness and the freedom of all citizens irrespective of their religious and political affiliations. So, no one should be intimidated, no matter where the threat is coming from. We are all free born and not slaves


What advise will you give to the people of your senatorial district at this difficult moment?

The people of central senatorial district   are very hospitable and peaceful and criminality of this dimension has never been known with us. I advise my people to go about their normal businesses and they should have the assurances of the security agencies to deal with the security challenge once and for all. I equally appeal to the traditional rulers, ward heads, community leaders and everyone to support the military and police by providing useful information that will track these criminal elements. Most importantly, the local government administrators and their team should take issues of security very seriously. I make bold to say that a government that cannot protect her citizens is a failed government.


Recently,  Senator Dino Melaye representing Kogi West Senatorial District, moved a motion on the condition of Kogi Civil Servants and the Senate resolved to donate some bags of rice, why were you part of that arrangement?

Thank you, I like to clarify that any decision of the Senate at plenary is binding upon me. Senator Dino Melaye moved a motion under order 43 of the senate standing rules based on the appeal of the NLC President to Nigerians to rally round Kogi workers and donate relief materials to them.  This was published in national dailies. The prayers of the motion were granted and donations of rice, fertilizer etc were taken at plenary, even those who were not around had donations by proxy and I don’t see that as a problem because the Senate was only responding positively to the plea of Labour. Relief materials, empowerment items, food assistance programmes  have been a recurring phenomenon in our country and I believe it is to assist those in need, so the Senate was only assisting as responsible leaders. I think people should look at the message not the messenger because we are not setting a bad precedent. You will recall that Governor Yahaya Bello, has severally donated food items in the past to Kogi citizens, I remember he donated thousands of bag of  rice to polling units to mark Democracy Day and assisting our needy people, so it’s not strange and I commend anyone who assists people to feed especially when we were in recession.


What is your view on the current economic challenge in the country and do you think the Federal government policies will address them?

Well, going by the report of the National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria is out of recession marginally, and we are still concerned in the Senate on how the nation can benefit from sound economic policies that will pull us through as our citizens are in serious hardships, which is unacceptable. The position of the National Assembly is that the current 2017 Budget should be funded to reflate the economy as government needs to spend more to boost economic activities.


What are your legislative priorities for the 2018 fiscal year?

I have been representing my constituents in the Senate well and I intend to step up my game by attracting more projects to Kogi Central Senatorial District, ensure that more of our teeming youths are gainfully employed by way of appointments, skill acquisition  and empowerment programmes  . I intend to continue to push and lobby for the resuscitation of Ajaokuta Steel Company and the National Iron Ore Mining Company Itakpe. In the coming days we will witness public hearing on my bills and sponsorship of more bills and motions that will be beneficial and critical to citizens and the economy of our nation


What is your comment on the 2018 budget presented by President Muhammadu Buhari?

Actually, Mr President has done well in presenting the budget in good time and he should be encouraged, however the entire budget approval process is not a tea party and I assure you that the National Assembly has commenced work on the 2018 Appropriation immediately Federal agencies are ready to appear before the relevant committees for easy processing of their estimates.


Some politicians are clamouring for a shift of the position of Senate, saying it is the turn of  another area in your senatorial district. What is your reaction to this?

The issue of zoning is just a tool being used by some desperate politicians to advance their political ambition. There is no binding agreement on zoning but there was previous attempt to have zoning arrangement which was jettisoned at every election we have held as aspirants and candidates emerged across the Senatorial zone. Here in the Senate, some senators have been elected three or more times, the constitution allows a legislator to be elected as many times as possible and there is no term limit. You can’t keep changing your Senator every four years in the name of zoning arrangement. How will that help the Senatorial district?  It will be an advantage to any Senatorial District to have a ranking Senator.

A ranking Senator will have more power to lobby, especially within the Senate leadership caucus. Ranking Senators are given preference in Committee chairmanship.

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