The Deputy Majority Leader, House of Representatives, Buba Jibril, representing Lokoja/Kogi Federal Constituency of Kogi State, tells Punch’s John Ameh about his life as a lawmaker.
People say you are too quiet as a deputy leader.
I am really quiet and it has been my nature. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being quiet. When I decided to join politics, some of my friends were surprised. They said, ‘You, can you do politics?’ I am not an introvert, so to say, but I mind my business.Why is the ‘change’ promised by your party not manifesting?
I am sorry. The change we talked about is not like a hamper that you distribute to Nigerians. It is a package of actions meant to ensure that things are differently done. This government has recorded tremendous achievements in some areas like the Treasury Single Account. There is the issue of corruption. Everybody is now on their toes. You know now that everything you do, you must be very careful. The government is committed. The only minus is the lack of funds because the revenue available to government is limited. The change mantra is real.
Why do people complain that the change is not reflected in Kogi, your state?
Besides the general problem I just mentioned, Kogi has a peculiar case. We have a state that got more bailout funds than others in the past months, yet the administration has not paid workers’ salaries. Pensioners are not paid and the civil service is completely decimated and so on. Kogi’s case is what you will call a disaster. We need God’s intervention.
What efforts have stakeholders made to address the situation?
A few days back, I led a delegation of about 35 stakeholders to the (then) Acting President. We tabled all the issues before him. He promised to look into Kogi’s case and to even inform Mr. President when he comes back. The Kogi situation baffles everybody.
There are allegations that many ambitious politicians in Kogi State are not helping matters?
That is not the issue. In governance, you apply wisdom. You are not in governance to conquer people. Besides, is there anything wrong in anybody aspiring to be the governor if he is from that state? People will always be interested in your seat, but the welfare of the people must be paramount at all times. For example, no civil servant has been paid since December, after all the months of screening.
The world has just celebrated International Women’s Day. What is your view on the role of women in society?
Women have tremendous roles to play in society. I think everything should be done to support them. They seem to be the weaker sex, in the sense that certain things that men can do, they are at a disadvantage. Right from the family, women are disadvantaged. They tend to give priority to the male child in many ways. The factors militating against the personal development of women should be articulated and addressed.
Why do men oppose women contesting political offices?
Is it men alone? It is a gradual thing. Like I said, over the years, women have been at a disadvantage. But, do women even vote for women? I think it’s a cultural thing, more than anything else.
You are married to three women. What do you do for your wives in role-sharing in the house? Can you cook for them?
No. I must confess. I really can’t do that now. But, when I was growing up as a young man, I was not really bothered about that. In fact, I enjoyed cooking up till when I became a married man. However, over time, I have lost touch with cooking. What I can do is that when my wives are in the kitchen and I am doing nothing, I go and chat with them. I stay with them in the kitchen to make them feel okay. When I go to my house, I enter through the kitchen door, not the main door. If any of them is in the kitchen, we share the latest news in town in the kitchen.
So, you have not lost the romantic touch in your family life?
No, I have not. That should not be the case at all. I am still very romantic.
Hahaha! These are very private issues; they can’t be shared with outsiders.
No, I don’t mean details of your intimate moments with your wives.
Like I told you before, we share jokes in the parlour and kitchen. I counsel one of my sons that little things make women happy, like flirting with your wife. When she is alone and nobody is looking, you touch some sensitive parts of her body. It makes her feel happy and say, ‘This man still appreciates me.’ I still do it. They are my wives. We even crack some funny bedroom jokes that nobody understands.
There must be some codes for such bedroom jokes.
No, I wouldn’t say. I won’t tell you.
I am sure you go to parties with them as well?
No, not parties, but sometimes we go out to eateries. We eat one or two things; sometimes we go to a suya spot or drive out. We also go shopping together.
How do you cope with jealousy among your wives?
A friend once asked me the secret of how I keep my beautiful wives. I told him, ‘My friend, first and foremost, it is God. Secondly, as a man, if you don’t play the role of knocking their heads, you will get the best from your wives.’ My secret is not to cheat any of them. I don’t favour anyone above the other. I am transparent and open to all of them.
But, one must be your favourite.
I don’t have a favourite wife. I love the three of them.
Is it really possible to love three women equally?
Honestly, I don’t know, but I think I love each of them.
Do you extend this love to girlfriends too?
No. I am a Muslim. I relate with women generally as a politician. There are lots of them in my constituency. But, I don’t go out with women outside my family. Even here in Abuja, they come visiting; some of these women leaders and so on. I take them out to see the city; pick one or two things for them and make them happy. I do this with the consent of my wives.
You mean none of the women you take to gift shops is your girlfriend?
No! At my age? I have advanced a little bit.
Age is not a factor here. There are elder statesmen in this country who are still ‘prolific’ at 80.
Well, that is their private business. I socialise but not to the point of having girlfriends.
What would your mates remember you for during your school days or while growing up?
Some of them remember me for being a superman. They believed I had a sharp brain. I was diligent, focused and they remember me for being a brilliant student. For this, I became the head boy of my school. The position was reserved for boarding students, but against all odds, they gave it to me. I was a day student. I was very good at Mathematics and English, and the sciences generally. They even gave me the name, ‘Chucks the boy’ for being hardworking.
Is it true that nobody can win an election in Lokoja without consulting Buba Jibril?
I don’t know. It is people who created that impression. All I know is that I am close to my constituents and they are close to me. Sometimes, it is very tasking financially and physically. I try to reach out to everyone as much as possible. I empower my people and I even sit outside the house to eat openly with them from the same plate.
Do you have any favourite food?
I like tasty food. I like soups that are cooked without tomatoes in them. Tomatoes come in only when it is stew. I eat smoked and fresh fish or bush meat. But, they must not be cooked with tomatoes. I love pounded yam and rice.
Lawmakers rarely exchange blows these days. What is the reason?
Since the 7th Assembly, a lot has changed, starting with the tenure of Aminu Waziri as the speaker. There was openness. In the present 8th Assembly, (Yakubu) Dogara has maintained the same style. When you create the avenue for people to iron out issues and you solve them, there will be no friction. If members have free access and you are transparent and open, there will be no issues. Dogara has been transparent and open in the management of the affairs of the House.