Senator Rasidi Ladoja is a former Governor of Oyo State and a High Chief of Olubadan of Ibadanland. He is a major player in the Oyo State politics. In this interview with SOLA ADEYEMO in Ibadan, he bares his mind on insecurity issues bedeviling the country, as well as, some political hurdles in the way of the coming elections and that of the 2023 particularly
Insecurity has become a major issue of discourse in the country nowadays with wanton kidnapping, maiming, killing and raping of innocent citizens by herdsmen and bandits on the increase. Yet, President Muhammadu Buhari appears helpless. What advice do you have for the Federal Government to abate this ugly trend?
You would have listened to what Emmanuel Ortom, Governor of Benue State, has been saying that it appears the Federal Government is insincere with fighting insecurity.
The lukewarm attitude of the Federal Government was what created Sunday Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu ab initio. Remember the President told us before that he was for nobody and for everybody, but now, he is for some people and not for the others. You are to protect everybody but you are now protecting some people to the detriment of others.
That is what created the insecurity we are complaining about. People now see the perceived inequality of the Federal Government in the treatment of its citizens when the power of coercion is in the hand of one side. The Army, the DSS, the IGP are concentrated in one ethnic group in the country.
Most of the time, the president takes too long before he talks to us. The other time he talked, and the tension came down, but that was after a lot of prompting. Maybe, he should talk to us more often so that Nigerians will be reassured.
The fact remains that a lot of people thought that the president was not even in charge. Let us just say that the insecurity will continue until people believe that justice is being done. What brought about the Boko Haram, nobody knows, and in fact, nobody knows them. And the situation whereby Sheik Gumi has the right to go and visit them; take ransom to them, means that the Federal Government is condoning it.
This is because we have never heard that the people that collected Gumi’s ransom that time have been arrested. After all, it shows that some people know the Boko Haram’s address and how to contact them.
And even how to send letters to them, or the telephone numbers they can use to contact the insurgents. With this scenario, we cannot say that the Boko Haram are faceless again.
Or are we saying that the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Police and other security agencies are not strong enough to confront the militia called Boko Haram? That is that about the insecurity. To me, when the government is ready, they will crush the bandits and Boko Haram insurgents, provided they want to.
Military installations, camps were recently attacked by the Boko Haram insurgents, and recently General Hassan was killed on the Lokoja/Abuja Road. What does this portend for the country?
That is part of the insecurity we are talking about. Maybe, now that they are also tasting it, they will wake up. I mean, it is very unfortunate that a whole General can be slaughtered like that on the street. Some traditional rulers were abducted even in Daura, the president’s town-the Head of a town in the president’s state?
It means that something is really happening. But we only hope that things will be corrected by the grace of God. This is because after everything, we have to place our hope at the doorstep of God.
The issue of electronic transmission of election results from the polling centres is generating uproar between the National Assembly members and the INEC. What is your understanding of the scenario?
Who is in charge of the elections? Is it not the INEC? Has the INEC not said that they are ready for electronic transmission and that they have the facility to do it? Are the NASS the ones to do the job for the INEC? So, don’t mind the National Assembly.
I think some people just want to rig the elections. I am sure that the President will not allow that. And I am sure that the elections that will be coming in Anambra and Ekiti states will be transmitted electronically, so that the INEC will make people see that they are ready. I am sure they would have perfected everything before the 2023 elections.
The Northern Elders Forum, the Arewa Consultative Forum and other northern groups have said that after the 2023 elections, power must still remain with them for another four years to balance the number of years the Southern part of the country had enjoyed at the highest level of governance. Contrary however, the 17 southern states governors recently met in Lagos and agreed that power must shift to the South. What do you have to say to this contradiction?
You see, the agitation for shift to the South is as a result of mistrust. I hope that one day, people will no longer look at where someone comes from, but the best candidate to emerge. But as at today, with the way things are, some of us believe that the present president just came for an agenda. And the agenda is to get homestead for the Fulani.
Ortom said that 16 of the 18 local governments in Benue state are occupied by Boko Haram and they still continued. Yet, the president has not dragged the Army there to flush them out. To me, the dichotomy of North/South is becoming too glaring. It was never like this before. It is now being taken out of the hands of the political parties that introduced it to garner electoral votes.
Some of us in 1999 insisted that any party that came to join the race must give the ticket to the Yoruba and you will see that by some arrangement, Falae and Obasanjo that contested are from the Yoruba extraction. It was meant to compensate for the Abiola issue.
So, it is not just by accident. Some of us believed that injustice was done to us in 1993 and so we needed to be compensated for the election won by MKO Abiola that he was not permitted to enjoy. Some of us said, if we believe in every one of us belong to Nigeria, there was no reason why Abiola would have won election and you did not allow him, except you hated us.
And they said no, we didn’t hate you and it was agreed. In PDP, it was agreed ab initio that presidency was going to Yorubaland. I was a member of the 2014 Confab and the major idea there was restructuring. Unfortunately, maybe former President Goodluck Jonathan thought he was going to win the 2015 election, he did not start the implementation, and the present regime said they are not going to look at it.
And regarding the idea that the presidency should come to the South, my question is: Who in the South? People were not complaining under Yar’Adua. It is not the South that is important to me but whoever that can bring Nigeria together and make us progress.
This is because it is very frustrating to some of us that we fought for this Nigeria intellectually and financially. We left what we were doing to go and join politics because we felt that we could be part of the change. But it is not the Nigeria of our dream that we are having today. It is very sad. We should not be talking of North/South this time.
Most of my friends are from the North. Another question is that, are the Northerners happy? Are most of the killings not being done in the North? So, it is competence we should look at, not who is in charge. Is the person you are putting there competent and does he have the love of Nigeria?
That is what is important to me, not whether it is North or South or East or West. I think what the governors are saying is that maybe, if it comes to the South, things will be better.
Considering curbing of insecurity, how sustainable is Amotekun in the South West?
You see, there would have been no need for Amotekun if there was no mistrust in the Police. I said that some people believe that if you catch a Fulani herdsman destroying your crop or raping your wife, and you hand him over to the police, the police will say they have order from above that the Fulani should be released.
Alaafin said much about this in very clear terms. That is what created the Amotekun.
Remove that one and see maybe the police will do their work better; and maybe other security agencies will also do their work better. And it also boils down to whether the police are competent. Let us address that and see if Nigeria will rise up again.
As a major player in the oil industry, how do you see the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill?
Very sad! Very, very sad!! How can you say that owners of something should get only 3 per cent? How can you say that you are going to give 30 per cent for exploration in the area where there may be no oil? I am sure also that the president will not sign it.
Have the two Houses been able to reconcile yet? Let us wait until they reconcile. But I am sure that as the Senate presented it, the president will not sign it.