He is a very popular politician in Kogi State. Everyone calls him TeeJay Yusuf. That is his nickname. Teejay was coined from his real name Tajudeen. His full name is Hon. Tajudeen Ayo Yusuf. He is a member of the House of Representatives, representing Kabba-Bunu/Ijumu Federal Constituency. He is also the Chairman, House Committee on Capital Market & Institutions.
Yusuf is a very brilliant lawmaker and an astute politician with a solid grassroot structure, which saw him defeating Senator Dino Melaye when he ran for the House of Reps elections 6 years ago. Dino, who was the incumbent ran for a 2nd term and Teejay came from no where to beat him at the polls. That put Dino in political limbo for 4 years before he came back in 2014 to contest for a seat in the Senate.
From that point at which Teejay beat Dino, Teejays rating shot up. He is now a 2 term Abuja lawmaker. He was part of the 7th National Assembly and now the 8th Assembly. Since he went in, he has been very relevant to the needs of his people. Many things are going for him. He is young, brilliant and dynamic. He also has the energy and the zeal to fulfil his promises to the people.
Who is Teejay Yusuf, who was born on August 1968 to the illustrious Yusuf Abolusoro family of Kabba in Kogi State? He is a radical politician, who attended St. Augustine College in Kabba, one of the most popular and foremost Secondary Schools in the old Kwara State (present day Kogi and Kwara State). He earned a BSc in Economics from the University of Jos.
His activism started at the University of Jos when he occupied various positions such as Member, Abuja Hall government, Member, University of Jos Security Committee, Secretary General, Civil Liberties Organisation, University of Jos Chapter, Welfare Secretary, UNIJOS Student Union gocernment and eventually he was Secretary-General of NANS. He was elected Honourable Member representing Kabba-Bunu/Ijumu Federal Constituency in the House of Reps in June 2011. Between June 2011 and May 2015 he was Deputy Chairman, House Committee on ICT. Following his landmark achievement that fueled acceptance by the electorate, he was re-elected to represent Kabba-Bunu/Ijumu Federal Constituency.
He is now the Chairman, House Committee on Capital Market and Institutions. Many don’t know he is an ordained Minister in the House on The Rock (The Refuge) in Abuja. He is the Head of Ushers Board of the church. He is the Co-ordinator of Christian Legislators Fellowship in the House of Representatives. His degree in Economics has come in handy in his job at the National Assembly. Thats why he was saddled with the chairmanship of the House Committee on Capital Market and Institutions.
A few sundays back, City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE, had breakfast with him and both chatted about the state of the nation and other issues. Below are excerpts of the interview.
How has it been since you came into the 8th Assembly?
You mean 2015 to date? For lack of a better word, it has not been as expected. It has been very, very tough, very bad. Why? By my estimation, poor management of our economy. People adduce other reasons such as corruption. I disagree. We have always had corruption in the past. There was a time N2.8 billion got missing.
Two things crippled our economy. One is the President’s mismanagement of his goodwill. When he came in there were many positives indicators our there. Before the elections, investors were waiting out there with their resources. There was the fear that Nigeria was going to go into crisis. Fortunately, for us, that didn’t happen. Rather than take advantage of that, our President went round the world telling everybody that we are corrupt. So, why will they bring their money here into an economy that the President says is corrupt. Rather than going round the world and saying I am in charge now. Things are different. He could have said things were bad before, but I am in charge now. Your money would be secured. Anybody who tries to manipulate the system would be dealt with. Unfortunately, I don’t know who gave him that narrative, he was always talking about corruption outside Nigeria. I don’t know who gave the President that narrative to always say Nigerians are corrupt.
Two, he has a bad economic management team. This is the worst team we have had. All over the world, countries that desre to move to the next level economically have a liberalised forex system. If I am not a Nigerian, why would I bring my money here, when I don’t know the rate of exchange. Some cronies of the government get dollars at a different rate. I am priviledged to be the Chairman, House Committee on Capital Markets. There is no economy anywhere in the world that develops without Infrastructure, and there is no viable positive signs of improvement in infrastructure. Dubai in 1990 was a single-lane city. Dubai is what it is now because of Capital market funds. In our case, we have deliberately damaged our economy, rather than geuinely fixing it. We kept on saying the economy got bad because people are stealing. Have they stopped stealing now? The problem has to do with our response that is poor. We don’t have people who have skills in that area. There is no single private sector person in the economic team. So, there is nobody who can bring a different perspective to the table.
We have what you call Financial System Regulatory Commission. It is a platform where all agencies that have to do with finance come together all over the world. In Nigeria it is not functional. So, policies are derived based on input of these experts. So, what we see here are decisions taken, such as shut this our borders without asking how it would affect the forex market or how it would affect commodity exchange. You can’t sell without commodity exchange. We are price takers. No price takers makes appreciable gain. You don’t take the price they just give you. You need a platform to negotiate.
What I am saying is we are where we are for 2 reaons. One, is the President’s lack of Strategy and the way he talks about Nigeria. Two is the quality of the economic team, besides its poor performance. And to quote, a former Minister, Idika Kalu, “we have amateurs running our economy”. We need to fix the forex regime. Unfortunately, there are no signs we are getting out. CBN went on road show to attract international investors and they told the CBN’s Governor in London: we can’t come because you don’t have a forex regimen. Next time you come, you may not find any one of us here. Go back home. But he could fix it. He is in-effective. He is afraid to do the right thing.
Lets talk about your activities in the House of Reps. How has it been?
It has not been easy. I was in the 7th Assembly. This is the 8th. But I can tell you that the 7th Assembly was definitely more robust than the present one. Because people have been offered pseudo change for real change. That’s what you get All Progressives Congress APC people lied to us. They over condemed government policies that they knew they have no alternative. What we have seen so far is that my party is better than this party. That is all they are interested in, not what is good for the Nigerian people. So, the debates we have been having are not the usual kind of debates that we are used to when Mr. A stands up to talk, you can easily know his conclusion. In the 7th Assembly as a (PDP) member I would standup and take on my party’s policies. You can’t find that now. You rarely can find that now.
There is what you call the party’s position. But that does not affect national issues such as the Economy. Two, we have a party in government that is so much entangled in supremacy battle. So, they are uncordinated. I am sorry. I tell people that the APC was unprepared for governance. I think they were expecting a Jonathan to refuse to hand over so that they can go to war. So, when power fell into their hands, they were confused. They were unable to switch over. They have forgotten that they are no longer an opposition party. That is why they have been complaing since. With the choice of APC of the truth, I think we have gone to the market to buy the wrong thing.
The fact that they are fighting corruption is a positive one, putting it in the front burner. However, I still think equity must not be sacrificed. Fighting corruption should not have party colouration.
People are also worried that the PDP too is in bad shape and not ready to provide an alternative leadership. Why is this so?
You forgot that when we were holding last elections, they were not only thinking power, they were thinking of killing PDP, everybody even the populace. So, we all forgot the gravity of the attack dealt on PDP. People forgot that the PDP government at the centre liberalised democracy. You could say anything then. Now, you can’t say anything. You could say anything about Jonathan then. You could write anything and go scot free. Not the same now. Femi Fani Kayode is being tried for campaign funds. So, Lai Muhammed didn’t spend campaign funds. I have a conviction that all these will not last, we will get there. May be this time round, we would have true political parties, which are an assembly of people, who share common opinion, aim’s on how government should be run. Today, in Nigeria what we have is an assembly of people whose only common ground is how to grab power.
I agree with you that, yes PDP has its problems, however, the activity or inactivity of the government is the one mobilising the opposition. So, the opposition will emerge naturally unless this goverment changes its approach and become more pro-active.
All the promises APC made they have not fulfilled. They promised meals in school. They said it’s achievable. They promised 3 million jobs, but people have lost more than 5 million jobs. Sincerely, this is not the best of times for our nation and I think men who genuinely want Nigeria to be what it should be. Those who desire Nigeria to take leadership position in Africa must be interested in how we can get out of this quagmire. And I pray that this government should be a listening one. They have not been listening.
How did you get into Politics?
I have always been involved in student unionism and for about 14 to 15 years after I left school I wasn’t interested in Politics. But anytime I look at what our leaders do, I just feel I can do it better. However, anytime I observe things not been done properly, I am not able to suppress the inner agitation that I an do it better. Unfortunately for me, people were able to put their trust in me. Fortunately for me in 2011, I won the election. It has been my desire to offer a different perspective to how things are done. There is this belief that politicians can never be truthful, that they can’t make a promise that they could go to bed with. I want to prove that it is possible to still find people who are true to their words in Politics.
I have done that. I am the first to return in my constituency. We have tried to give the people what they never believed was possible. We’ve made sure we deliver the little that we can deliver. People never believed that constituency projects were possible. Then see it now. Let me quickly explain that government does not give us money to do constituency projects. That is the ernomous belief out there. What we do is we would be asked to nominate projects up to a particular amount. They will now give you a basket to shop from. They can now give you transformers, for example, that are worth a particular amount. They would tell you which MDG to domicile those projects. Yours is now to provide locations. Nigerians assume they directly give you money. No. If I was giving money directly I would do more than I have done. Government can give you a small hall and the value is N30 million. That was how I found myself in Politics.
Lets talk about your growing up years and shools attended?
I was born in Ondo town. My parents are from Kabba in Kogi State. Both of them returned in 1975. I had my primary school in Ondo at Ansarudeen. I came to Kabba did a year, then went to Kano, then came back to Kabba. I had my secondary school in Kabba at St. Augustine College. then proceeded to Unviersity of Jos to study Economics. I was involved in the student movement. I was welfare secretary of Kabba Student Union.
I was NANS’ Secretary General. In those days, I had the conviction then that there would be a revolution that would kill some of the people who were in the office I am now in. But there was genuine zeal. The experience I gathered from that background really helped me in Politics. I was into Marxism, Leninism, Trosky. I studied the contribitions of Amical Cabra, Franz Fanon. From this side I studied the writings of Aminu Kano. They all shaped our political worldview. After school, I went into real estate in Abuja.ets talk about your growing up years and shools attended?
I was born in Ondo town. My parents are from Kabba in Koyi State. Both of them I returned in 1975. I had my primary school in Ondo at Ansarudeen came to Kabba did a year. Then went to Kano. Then came back to Kabba I had my secondary school in Kabba at St. Augustine College. Then proceeded to Unviersity of Jos to study Economics. I was involved in the student movement. I was welfare secretary of Kabba Student Union.
I was NANS’ Secretary General. In those days, I had the conviction then that there would be a revolution that would kill some of the people who were in the office I am now in. But there was genuine zeal. The experience I gathered from that background really helped me in Politics. I was into Marxism, Leninism, Trotsky. I studied the contribitions of Amica Cabra, Franz Fanon. From this side I studied the writings of Aminu Kano, they all shaped our political worldview. After school, I went into real estate in Abuja.