Sunday Magazine

2023: Nigerians will vote for persons, not party –Adeyeye

Senator Dayo Adeyeye, a former Minister of State for Works, is the cocoordinator of SWAGA, a mobilization vehicle working to enthrone Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for President in 2023. Adeyeye after inauguration of the Akwa Ibom State chapter of the group spoke with TONY ANICHEBE on their mission and why Nigerians should support Tinubu to emerge President in 2023 among other salient issues

 

Why are you at the forefront campaigning for Bola Ahmed Tinubu for president in 2023?

 

The period we are requires a very competent leader, an astute politician, a man of wisdom and experience, a man who is bold, focused and courageous ready to tackle the mirage of challenges facing the country without any fear. It requires a man who will be ready to confront anybody or group constituting a cog in the wheels of our progress as a country.

 

We have searched around and some of us who are experienced in politics have concluded that the right man at the moment is Asiwaju Tinubu. I will say the man needs the moment and the moment needs the man.

 

Nigeria needs that kind of man now, we cannot afford to make mistakes now as any mistake may affect the very foundation of the country and the country may never be the same again.

 

Therefore, this is the moment we need to be very careful to select the leader who will rekindle hope in Nigerians of a future in which some of the fears and apprehensions we have right now will be addressed so that the people can have a new confidence in the country.

 

Right now a lot of Nigerians are migrating abroad and many people will flee the country, if the visa is free, leaving only half of our population behind. Therefore, we need to give people hope again. In my time when we finished university education, the thought of working outside the country was never on our mind or even thought of going to live abroad.

 

But now things have changed; our children don’t want to stay in the country because they think there is no future.

 

So we need a real leader now who can handle the present situation and we believe that the person is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. We believe in him on the basis of his antecedents.

 

He worked in Mobil Unlimited, rising to the highest level as Director, and Treasurer in Mobil International and resigned to join politics. He contested and won election to the Senate in 1992 during the time of National Republican Convention (NRC) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

 

He was one of the eminent Nigerians who stood strongly for democracy   when Gen. Sani Abacha instituted the worst form of dictatorship in Nigeria. Many of us left for the trenches and together fought the regime. It wasn’t an easy time for Nigeria.

 

Several people went on exile while others were killed, including some prominent Nigerians like Pa Alfred rewane; Alhaja Kudirat Abiola who died in the struggle, which also claimed the life of Chief MKO Abiola.

 

Today we have the democracy we are enjoying and Tinubu was one of the persons that fought for the democracy, therefore, when you have struggled hard for a thing, you will value it and want to preserve it at all cost. Tinubu will defend democracy to the end.

 

But he was one of the politicians that brought the present administration into power….

 

(Cuts in) I will come to that later. I agree he is one. He will bring in his experience and wisdom to govern Nigeria. He governed a state successfully for eight years and Lagos State is a highly cosmopolitan state. Lagos is the most populous state in Nigeria with all the ethnic groups in Nigeria residing there. The poorest of the poor and the richest of the rich are in Lagos. It is the most diverse state with huge number of foreigners.

 

Yet, Lagos remains the most peaceful and accommodating state. Lagos remains the first state of destination for those who want to come and invest in Nigeria, and for Nigerians who want to live outside their state. Thousands of people daily relocate to Lagos State and they are accommodated.

 

The economy is thriving and new businesses are growing. We also see new infrastructural development. The state has also witnessed a high level of religious tolerance with Christians and Moslems co-existing peacefully with their headquarters in Lagos.

 

The population of Lagos State is 50-50 between Christians and Moslems, and there is no tension. The present governor in Lagos State is a Christian; Tinubu is a Moslem and Fashola a Moslem but that is not an issue. We have never had religious crisis in Lagos.

 

Tinubu has both Christians and Moslems in his cabinet and his own wife is also a Christian. He has a large heart. As for back as 2001, Tinubu had created the Lagos State Security Trust Fund. He has anticipated rapid development in the state and planned ahead.

Will the precarious situation in the country today not work against the APC in 2023?

 

Let us first acknowledge that Tinubu was part of the people who brought the APC. APC was supposed to rescue the country from what people perceived as the mismanagement of the PDP. It was a known fact that Nigerians were not happy in 2015 with PDP. We should not allow amnesia to reign over us.

 

They wanted change and it came but they may not be happy with the change they got in 2015 and Tinubu was one of the people that brought about the change. However, people  may be dissatisfied with APC now but the argument can be made both ways.

 

The APC has tried because what they met on ground was extremely bad. I think what will determine who Nigerians will vote for in 2023 is the personality of the person contesting the election. Nigerians want to see a person who has integrity not the party alone

 

. Tinubu will be contesting on the platform of the APC, the individual who is driving that ship is crucial and very important. The APC ship is okay but the direction the captain is moving it is very important. I believe that when we make public the glamorous records of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, majority of Nigerians, I strongly believe, will want to give him a chance. The issue of personality will play a major role in 2023.

 

 

As a politician I can predict that Nigerians will tell you that they don’t care about the political party but the person involved, having seen the APC and PDP. Their major interest now is a person who can effectively and efficiently run the country successfully.

 

Tinubu is the only governor since 1999 that not only succeeded in his administration but has successfully encouraged credible successors. Tinubu has a cult like followership and that saw one party running Lagos State since 1999. In Ekiti State where I came from no government has succeeded to come back to back since 1999. Therefore I want you to understand that the quality of a leader is what encourages huge followership.

 

Many Nigerians want to associate with Bola Ahmed Tinubu politically and his personality will be cherished, embraced and voted for when he brings it to the national political Arena.

 

APC promised Nigerians security, job creation, and anti-corruption war among others, have they made significant impact in this regard?

 

Starting with issue of security, there are few things the government has achieved in the area of security. Prior to 2015 when I was a minister, there was a time in Nigeria we were having bomb explosion in Abuja even at the Police and ECOWAS headquarters were affected. Boko Haram virtually seized the North-East but currently, there are no incidences of bombing here and there.

 

At that time people were so afraid when the Police Headquarters was bombed.

 

It appeared as if there was no government in Nigeria but there has been no repeat of such again. Boko Haram, according to Nigerian Army, is no longer controlling any territory, though we see acts of insurgency here and there through hit and run and ambushing which is the style of terrorist’s organization.

 

But the new phenomenon which the people are not happy about is the banditry in some parts of the country. This is a new phenomenon in our security challenge and I believe the government will tackle it and it’s been tackled.

 

We have seen a gradual drop in the issue. However, I think what will solve the security problem is the economy because when people are really engaged, and they are working, they will not have time for the anti-social behavior.

 

Most of the people involved in the anti-social activities are idle. If we have a thriving economy with the agricultural sector industries moving, I believe strongly that there will be drastic reduction in the incidence of insecurity in the country.

 

For instance, despite the fact that Lagos State has the highest population some of these anti-social behaviors are not present there, because a lot of people are positively engaged in Lagos. When you leave your state to Lagos, it will dawn on you that you will only survive by working hard.

 

There is no free lunch in Lagos. I came to Lagos in 1980 and I knew I had to work hard. At times I was doing three jobs as a graduate teaching as a graduate, doing my masters and also lecturing at the same time to survive. I always tell people in Lagos that in the city only the lazy ones will die of hunger, because whatever you put your hand, you will succeed.

 

Bola Ahmed Tinubu will handle the issue of economy more than anybody because he will create an enabling environment for investments to come to the country. Lagos is also investment friendly despite being crowded; more investors are coming.

 

If they take the kind of economic policies initiated by subsequent governments in Lagos State to the national level, the national economy will thrive and more industries will come and social services improved.

 

What is your take on the South-East’s agitation for presidency in 2023?

 

The South-East has every right to agitate for presidency and I support the agitation but politics is never served ala carte. You don’t stay in your room and they bring the food to you.

 

Politics is not played that way anywhere in the world. It is a game which you plan, agitate and campaign for what you want. You must struggle to win support for yourself. If our forefathers did not agitate or struggle for independence, we would have not gained independence.

 

American Blacks got voting right when Martin Luther King and others agitated strongly and backed it up with actions. Politics is like that; you must struggle. If the South- East wants to produce the president, they must come out and fight for the presidency by bringing out a formidable candidate who has capacity.

 

It is on record that because of the agitations by the NADECO, largely populated then by South-Westerners, democracy was restored. It was obvious to Nigerians then that the presidency will go to the South-West which happened in 1999 in order to have peace and also compensate for Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola’s death.

 

In the coming election, we will work very hard to win the 2023 presidency.

 

I believe that the South-East and even South-South have the right to want to have the presidency especially when it is coming to the South in both major parties, APC and PDP. If we begin to tinker with micro zoning now, there will be problems as a time will come when a particular zone may not be able to bring out a credible person that will appeal to Nigerians.

 

Therefore, it is better to have that broad zoning for now and therefore it means that all the geopolitical zones in the country are qualified to contest the presidency in both parties. So the zoning is open to all aspirants in the South.

 

Don’t you think that for the purposes of justice and fair play, it is proper to micro-zone the presidency to the South-East to give it a sense of belonging?

 

I don’t think that is expedient in the present Nigerian circumstances. Don’t forget that zoning is just a gentleman’s agreement.

 

It is not in the constitution or any known law of the country. It doesn’t even prevent people from coming out in other zones. Even if they said the presidency is zoned to the North people will still come from other zones to contest.

 

It is your capacity to mobilize that will give you a better standing. If the people want the south east to produce the president, there is no need for micro-zoning, they should simply give them their political support.

 

Looking at the security situation in Nigeria today, the South-West has set up Amotekun and other states are working in that direction. Do you support the establishment of other security outfits outside federal security agencies for protection of Nigerians?

 

Honestly, I have been an advocate of state police. It has been my belief for a long time now. I am also an advocate of community and local government police. The security challenges of the country are too enormous for security to be centralized in Nigeria.

 

Where I came from, my father was an Oba and he had native police attached to him for security. They were called Native Authority Police. They don’t carry guns but their intelligence gathering was second to none. If a stranger enters the town, they know when, where and the person(s) visited. We are not even practicing a federal system but a quasi-unitary system.

 

In America, they have City Police, State Police and the Federal Government has no police. What they only have is the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which is an investigative authority, because policing is a local issue.

 

In my hometown, what we do to assist in providing security is to operate local vigilantes who volunteered to police the town and the community is paying them. I can tell you that they are doing a better job than the federal police.

 

How can you post somebody from Uyo to Katsina to become a Divisional Police Officer in a completely strange land? He is not also emotionally attached to the environment.

 

If they kill 100 people there, he will not feel the impact like when they kill two people in Uyo, his country home, and it may even be his relatives. People should be allowed to police their local areas. The banditry we are facing today is thriving because security personnel are posted to areas that are completely strange to them to fight crime and, more so where they are not emotionally attached.

 

If you post a DPO who is from the same town with policemen from the same environment, you will see results because it is their community, and they will know how to organize it. Information will be flowing and there may not be a need for them to carry too many guns.

 

What he has today is people posted to strange lands whose terrain is unclear to them, and they go without their wives and children and every weekend they are home bound to visit their families. It is therefore pertinent to build a security structure that will recognize community and local and even state police. It is more essential than federal police.

 

People have also argued that state police can be used by governors to attack political opponents, but to me the important thing is to secure lives and property first.

 

Come to think of it, it is more difficult to use brothers in police to fight against their own brothers and easier to bring strangers to manhandle strangers. So I don’t buy the argument that they will be a veritable instrument to be used to suppress political opponents.

 

It is much easier for a top politician to use strangers in the police against his people. What we are running in Nigeria today is artificial security. We need state and communities to police themselves.

 

Tinubu is an advocate of state police and he believes that security should be decentralized. We have over the years used the federal police to oppress and suppress ourselves. I personally call for decentralization of Nigeria Police Force and practice of true federalism in which case more powers will be given to the states to manage their own affairs.

 

Did that influence growth in the First Republic?

 

That was the secret of the rapid development in the First Republic. The South-Western region under Chief Obafemi Awolowo was the fastest growing economy in the then Commonwealth states. It grew faster than Singapore and Malaysia.

 

Nigeria even without oil then built the tallest house in Africa – Cocoa House in Ibadan. There were industrial estates in Ikeja, free education in South-West, the first television station in the whole of Africa was established in Ibadan ahead of Egypt and South Africa.

 

That showed how fast the western region was growing. Today when you hear people agitating for Oduduwa Republic, it is because of that as they are tired of the fact that Nigeria is tying them down.

 

The only way to assuage such feelings is to decentralize powers in Nigeria and make it as it was done in the First Republic. Akwa Ibom is today the highest oil producing state. I don’t envy them. Let them take all their money while we go to Ekiti State and find what to do to grow too.

 

Singapore has no natural resources but it is a first world country and their standard of living is second to none in the world. Nigeria is unfortunately skewed in such a way that we are mentally conspired to believe we can’t survive without funds from federation account.

 

But your party came on the mantra of restructuring which it has not actualized?

 

That is why we are eager to actualize it. Lots of people within party are calling for it even from the North because the present system cannot carry us far. Let’s face the truth.

 

The mere admission that we need to restructure is a good thing and by the grace of God if Tinubu comes in, it will be actualized because it is already in the paper. It is sad that the then President Olusegun Obasanjo refused to listen to the advice to restructure Nigeria.

 

We in Afenifere wanted a Sovereign National Conference to discuss restructuring of Nigeria, but Obasanjo vehemently refused and instead accumulated more powers to the centre and even annexed state responsibilities. There is no business having a Federal Road Safety Corps in Nigeria to give people licenses. I got my first driving license from Shomolu Local Government Area in Lagos.

 

They also issued number plates to generate revenue. Now they have federalized everything and you wait to get number plates and license for months. What is the need for a National Judicial Council to control who will be a judge in Akwa Ibom?

 

Microsoft and Apple, some of the biggest companies in the whole world, registered in their home states but do business in the whole world. When the states cannot generate enough IGR and are broke it is because most of their areas to generate money have been taken over by Federal Government.

 

Therefore, we need to decentralize to allow the people of each state to manage and have healthy competitions among themselves. In the First Republic when Awolowo was building Premier Hotel, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe was building Presidential Hotel and Ahmadu Bello was building Durban Hotel.

 

There was competition among the regions. The same goes to other major projects like universities and stadia, and there was healthy competition and no one went cap in hand every month to the Federal Allocation Accounts Committee (FAAC).

 

In such a situation money will be difficult to embezzle and corruption will be reduced, because it is the sweat of the people and that will not be tolerated. However, what we have now coming from the federation account is like free money which everybody wants to share from.

 

We must fight for federalism in the country to move forward. India, Canada, Australia, America are all-time federal systems with different constitutions. When we have federalism every state will determine its own affairs.

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