Dialogue’ll resolve agitations for secession – Olulade

A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Segun Olulade, in this interview, speaks on the security challenges Nigeria is facing and the way out. Wale Elegbede reports

How will you describe the state of security in the country?

The fact is that you cannot hide from the truth. It is something of great concern and this government has not done well in the area of security. We need to do more; it is either those who are in authority in the security agencies are not fit for their positions or something is fundamentally wrong with intelligence gathering. People are being kidnapped and killed on a daily basis, we cannot continue to keep mute or be inactive, when we talk of issue of security of lives and property in Nigeria, it is something that should bother all of us. That is the major key of governance.

So, what is that way out?

We need everybody, Nigerians are not speaking out. For instance, the Lagos State government is trying to encourage people to say something about what is happening around them. It is something that we all must do; if you see criminal tendencies around you, speak out. That is why some of us have been agitating for the role of traditional rulers in the community. They have a major role to play; they must be empowered to play the role of protecting their communities. We cannot leave the issue of security to the Federal Government alone. The Federal Government has not shown the kind of leadership that we expected from it in terms of security. Clergymen, community leaders and the people must come together at this critical period and address the issue of security in our society. It is the responsibility of everybody. If every government is doing what the Lagos State government is doing in the area of security in their respective states, it would be better.

Don’t you think that some of these governors are constrained given the fact that they don’t control the police?

The constitution has also contributed to the problem and the only person we can put the blame on is the Federal Government. When a state governor cannot control the commissioner of police, how come we say he is in-charge of security in his state? The constitution is faulty in that aspect. We must start looking at how to enhance our laws to permit state police in the country. Even at the local government level, we must have community police. If the local governments are given the opportunity they can police their areas.

President Muhammadu Buhari has spent six years in office, how will you rate him and which areas do you want him to improve upon?

I have issues with him in the area of security. He has done well on the economy and infrastructure because we have seen tremendous development in those areas. When you look at anti-corruption war, you will see that he has tried. Though we still have corruption in some areas, it is not as pronounced as before, so he has done well in those areas. But I think he can do better. We had hope and belief in him when he came in, but he is not doing well on communication and in the area of passing things across to his people. He is the leader of the country; he should be able to talk to us regularly. Now, he has started speaking to us going by the last interview he granted Arise Television and Nigerian Television Authority (NTA). That is what we want from as our president. He should talk to us on every issue. If we have issues, let him talk to us. He is doing well in the area of transportation and infrastructure like I said based on what we have seen left and right but we need to do more on electricity and security. We know that paucity of funds can also affect the things he would have done in some areas.

Some people have been agitating for self-determination; what does this portend for the nation?

Everybody has a right to his or her opinion but we need a referendum to determine this. We should be able to discuss this in our respective ethnic groups. When the United Kingdom wanted to leave the European Union, they didn’t go through protests. Nigerians should understand that this is the largest black nation in the world and we cannot dream of going into another war. Those who have witnessed war in the past will understand. You can go to Somalia or Liberia. Even in Nigeria, the effects of the Biafran war are there till today, so we cannot afford another war.

Are we better together as a nation?

We are better together, and we are stronger together. Our togetherness is our strength. There are areas we can sit down and dialogue and everybody will be happy. Are we talking about devolution of power, true federalism, restructuring; we can ask if the government of Buhari can make these happen. I don’t think when these happen, people will want to go their separate ways again. I am sure they are agitating because everybody is feeling cheated one way or the other. If for example, the Lagos goveror can control Value Added Tax (VAT), sea ports, airports and he is able to provide security, food, housing, education, and uninterrupted power supply for the people of the state, there would be no problem. One thing we must also look into is how to remove the issue of state of origin, tribe or religion. Just say I am a Nigerian. When we have that patriotism and unity everything will go right. If I have to go to school and I can be admitted anywhere not because of state of origin, ethnic group or religion, I think that would increase the bond. Also, we must not cancel that National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme. We should look for ways of strengthening it and let everybody contribute his or her own quota to our development.

Talking about our constitution, some people are asking for its amendment and some want a brand new one. Which of these options would you support?

I don’t understand what they mean by a new constitution; it is still about an amendment to the constitution. Whether it is faulty or not, we have members at the National Assembly who can amend the constitution with the power vested in them by the people of Nigeria. We still have to do town hall meetings, where people will have to submit their memorandum. Let every member of the House of Representatives and the Senator go back home and discuss some grey areas with their people. Then, two-third of the state Houses of Assembly can also vote on every line of the constitution, which is the amendment we are talking about. Then, we will have the constitution that we can call our own. If we say we want a new constitution, are we going to have another constitutional conference? Who are the people that will represent us there? It will lead to waste of funds, which is not what we need now.

How will you assess the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State in two years as some people are saying he is just completing the projects of the past administration?

I will say that is the greatest legacy of Governor Sanwo-Olu. If people are saying that he is completing the projects of the past governor, it shows that government is about continuity. What you are saying is what any government should do. How can we just be having abandoned projects all over the place just because some people do not want to complete what others started all because they want to have their own projects. Why do you want to have your own projects, when the projects on ground have not been completed?

Would you say that we have developed politically in Nigeria with all the challenges in the country?

You can never compare a civilian government with a military government. The worst civilian government is better than the best military government. You will understand that for the fact that we have the power to determine our fate is the most aspect of a democratic government. You have the power to vote somebody into or out of power. We displayed that in the era of former President Goodluck Jonathan, we voted a sitting president out of office and brought in a new president. That can still happen in any state, local government or any elective office. That shows that we have the power. But unfortunately, those who have the power do not even know the power that they have. It has not dawned on them that they have the power of ballot. Also, we should know that democratic power is stronger than that of the bullet. So, when we come together that we want a particular person as our governor and everybody supports him, he would be governor. It is better than a military government that would come and kill some people and get into power and they are not accountable to anybody, and there will be no national or state Houses of Assembly. If you do any little thing they can arrest you and lock you up. Those of us, who have witnessed dictatorship in this country from the era of Muhammadu Buhari as a military head of state to that of Ibrahim Babangida, Sanni Abacha and later Abdulsalami Abubakar, we know what happened. This is not to talk of those days, when they were killing themselves for power from Aguiyi Ironsi to Yakubu Gowon, Murtala Muhammed, and later Olusegun Obasanjo. So, a civilian government is better.

Have we learned our lessons with June 12, 1993 presidential election?

I have said it that we should all come together for the sake of June 12, 1993 presidential election and that no tribe or religion should be more than others; that the only thing that matters is the competence of the person and the quality of leadership that the person is bringing to the table. In the June 12, 1993 presidential election, from North-East to the North-West, North Central, South-East, South- South and South-West, the late Chief M.K.O Abiola won in the six zones of the country. We also had a Muslim-Muslim ticket and nobody talked about that. All that they wanted was a government that would deliver for Nigeria. For us to get out of where we are today, we must go back to the lessons of the election.




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