EXCLUSIVE Q & A: Brilliant Lawyer, Maverick Politician, Franc Utoo bears his mind

Barr. Franc Utoo was born at the Jos University Teaching hospital four decades ago. Schooled in Jos; the famous Government College, Keffi; BSU; INTI International Univeristy, Nilai, Malaysia; Northumbria Univeristy (School of Law), Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom, and the Nigerian Law School.
Franc hail from Yelewata in Guma LG of Benue State and married with two kids.

Utoo is a Lawyer by profession, a sagacious activist by motivation and a politician by inspiration. These are the veritable ingredients in the making of a vibrant Lawmaker, as he seek to go into the National Assembly next year by God’s grace to represent Makurdi/Guma federal constituency. Added to these is his sumptuous experience as an Intern for 6 months in the House of Commons of the British Parliament; the world’s oldest and most noble Parliament.

Franc is a Catholic and an Altar boy for several years during his teenage days. He love’s adventures, debating and politicking.

Arsenal is his football club, and then Newcastle United. He is also a fan of Formula One and that of Lewis Hamilton.

He believes in the destiny of this country and in her endless possibilities. I remain an eternal optimist to this effect.

Qtn. Queen Amina Blog wants to know how you feel as a potential House Of Reps Member.

Ans. How I feel?

Very well really.

Qtn.Why the defection from APC to SDP?

Ans.I opted for the SDP because it is a party aligned to social democracy and justice. I suffered so much unmitigated injustices in the APC right from the 1st set of primaries in December 2014 where I won the primaries of the party for the House of Reps seat for Makurdi/Guma Federal Constituency, but the mandate freely given to me by the vast majority of our party men was brazenly hijacked and hoisted on a non-party man, Dickson Tarkighir, of the PDP. I initiated an action in court to that effect but the party criminally forged documents and perjured to the extent that two non-contestants were part of the primaries and had even scored higher votes than me and my originally defeated opponent, Conrad Terhide Utaan.
It was so demoralizing to see these sort of things happening in a 21st century democracy. In my case, the party stood her motto of “Justice, Peace and Unity” on its head and torpedoed its meaning.
Need I also add, in the course of my struggle for justice, the party suspended me twice – the last of which I haven’t been reinstated. That forced my way out. Mine was an uncommon change.

Qtn.As a lawyer, what motivated you to embark on this risky & tasking journey?

Ans.As a lawyer, I’m professionally prepared to surmount the enormity of the task that lies ahead in the areas of lawmaking and representation for which i aspire.

It’s an inescapable necessity that we must not sleep during periods of social change, for we are the ones we have been waiting for. It may be risky challenging the status quo but there are far bigger risks for comfortable inaction.

Qtn: What are the set goals that you hope to achieve for your constituency if elected?

Ans.Most important role of a parliamentarian is lawmaking. Having worked as an Intern in the oldest parliament in the world, the UK parliament for 6 months, added to my legal professional background and astute activism, I am rightly equipped with the fundamental credentials to make a gargantuan impact in the House. I have already prepared a couple of Bills that have a direct benefit to our people and to Nigeria, for sponsorship. Principal among these are:

1. A Bill For An Act To Establish The Benue Valley Security and Development Commission. It is modelled after the Marshal Plan that was used by America to rebuild Europe after the devastation of the second world war. This Bill when passed into Law will seek to give a statutory backing to the rehabilitation of our people that were maimed and displaced by the insurgency and carnage perpetrated by armed herdsmen. Government would compensate families that lost family members and rebuilt communities and churches, markets, houses etc destroyed by the attackers. It’ll also seek for the establishment of fully armed security posts along all major flash points of the Benue valley to check future occurrence

2. The Bill For An Act to Establish the Road Accident Compensation Code.
Many lives have been lost via the carelessness of public and private transport drivers. Our people are left alone to bury their dead ones or treat the injured victims. But like in case of air accident, this law would compel all motor companies to compensate family of victims of accidents caused by their vehicles…. just like air accidents where deaths are compensated at the tune of 100k dollars per person and the injured 50k dollars, here too some amount would be fixed even if it means the motor company going bankrupt just to pay.

This would inculcate in us the spirit of more care on the road and serve as deterrent to negligent drivers.

How will you go about achieving your set goals hence it involves hug sums of money?

Ans: I count on the support of the mass of the people. They are the biggest political assests, bigger than money…. and I count on the goodwill of the suppressed and subjugated people of our constituency who are in the vast majority.

Qtn: In the campaign so far, what are your experiences with the people in your constituency?

Ans. Experiences with my people:

They are quite hopeful and believe in the possibilities of this nation. They are patriotic enough and do not fail to pay taxes on even the smallest food item taken to the market for sale. They have fulfilled their obligation to the sate. Sadly, the state has failed them in the areas of security, promotion of their welfare, provision of basic utilities and even simple recognition except during election periods like this.
Women and children and the aged are dying from simple preventable diseases due to absence of a virile health care system. School children are still being taught mediaeval styled; no access to ICT, conveniences, and even necessary books.
Our people love to farm but cannot access modern farming mechanisms like tractors, harvesters, chemicals, fertilizers et al.
We have a bunch of self- contended and happy people who are forced to be unhappy by the deliberate neglect of their own government.

Qtn:Finally sir, what’s your take on the suspected Fulani herdsmen killings in Benue ,and what do you think will be the solution ?

Ans: My take on the suspectedd herdsmen killings in Benue:

They are clearly sponsored to carry out acts of pogrom and conquest. There is an obvious complicity between some set of people in government and these killer herdsmen. This is one of the reasons that made them feel invisible and invincible.

I must say categorically that some of the alleged killer herdsmen killed around my vilage last year were carrying official MOPOL ID cards and kits.

The way out of this murderous voyage is for the government to intensify security around the Benue valley and all over the state;
To bring the perpetrators of this carnage, their sponsors and those who shelter them, to justice;
The federal government should support the Open- Grazing Prohibition Law of Benue State, and mobilise all necessary mechanism towards it’s implementation and enforcement.

This is the time in our history to recruit spare pegs into square holes and get the kind of leaders and representatives that are driven by passion and the ambition to serve. Leaders that are decent, high on integrity and well schooled in the dynamics of modern governance, politics and the economy. This is the time for us to permanently retire from our politics and governance those who have been at the helm of political affairs in this nation since the 2nd republic and the aborted third republic, who are constantly recircled and have since become comatosed and non-productive.

We have to start a journey of renewal and renaissance. Ours is a country blessed by God with rich diversity and huge potentials, this is the time to tap unto this and harness it and reclaim our promises that has been placed in quagmire by the current leadership.
The followers have a major role in this process of renaissance. We all have to wake up from our slumber, shove off our docility, become more expensive and gallant, and take back this country from the hawks that have feasted on her to stagnation.

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