Mr. Musibau Taiwo Kolawole is a member of the House of Representatives from Ajeromi/Ifelodun Constituency in Lagos State and a former deputy speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly. In this interview with OLADIPUPO AWOJOBI, the All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain says state police remains the only way out of the nation’s security problems. Excerpts…
One of the major issues confronting the South-West is the 2023 Presidential election, as a federal lawmaker, don’t you think it is too early for us to be agitating to produce the President in 2023 instead of facing the businesses of security, economy and other vital issues?
I don’t know what you mean by that because if we want to solve these problems that you have enumerated, the greatest problem we need to solve is that of power. The late Chief Obafemi Awolowo said once said: “give me political power and all other powers will follow.” You now want to remove the political power from someone, how will he work. If the presidency is not given to the South-West in 2023, it could be given to somebody that does not know how our problems could be solved. Talking about the presidency let us give it to somebody that can do it and most of our problems will be solved. It is something that must be done before we talk of the ticket of the party. People are agitating that it should come to the South-West. The South-West has a better candidate than any of the other regions.
With your response, it appears you are also involved in the agitation, but what are you doing to ensure that this agitation does not disturb governance between now and 2023?
It has nothing to do with governance. You can’t be in government at a particular level without being involved in politics or without agitations. 2023 is about two years from now and we are not just saying we want the presidency of the federation, we are not just saying the presidency should come to the South-West, we are saying we have a better candidate that can solve our problems. So, we must go round to get support, you cannot do this job of walking round Nigeria in just one year. It is impossible or we will continue to deceive ourselves and we will get disappointed. Are you also convinced that the party would not jettison the agreement between President Muhammadu Buhari and the South-West that presidency would shift to the region in 2023? Nigeria is full of a lot of people and characters are different. There are some that always want to derail anything good, it is in their DNA, but the good ones will always stand by the agreement and they would not want it to derail. So, the war is between those who want it to derail and those who want it to be done. If anybody just sits in one place and thinks that power will be served a la carte, the person is deceiving himself. My leader said that power is not served a la carte, which is why we keep moving round and talk to people. Let them see the reason we have chosen the person we chose.
So, who is this candidate from the South-West?
My candidate is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
…But he has not declared his interest?
Does he need to declare? It is even better for people to say that this man is good than for him to say I am good. If it takes you 100 hours to explain what you have done, then you have done nothing because you are not the one that ought to be talking about yourself. It is people like us that have worked with him that would say that we know this man, he is trustworthy, he is savvy and so he knows all our problems and he can tackle them. One of the major issues now is insecurity and the President is saying Nigeria is safe, but we keep hearing that people are kidnapped and killed almost on a daily basis. What do you think of this? Security matter should not have been on the exclusive list. It supposed to be in the residual list. It should be on the residual list. What it means is that security is not limited to the centre; it supposed to be spread with the states and local governments. There are so many local insecurity issues. For instance in Lagos, some group of boys would just start fighting another set of boys, is that what you expect the president to come and solve? This is a residual security issue that should be solved by the local governments.
So, what are you implying?
From day one, I’m one of those people that support my leader on state police. We cannot pretend as if we are not seeing the problem of over centralisation of police in Nigeria. We can see the ingenuity of Lagos with Rapid Response Squad (RRS). What they do is to talk to the police force not to post a set of people outside the state and let them be with us. We will now equip them the way police should be equipped and we have been seeing results from them.
The simple truth is that we are deceiving ourselves; let’s have state police, and even county police. For instance, few days ago, constabularies graduated from the Police College in Lagos.
They were trained like police. We call them constabularies. They are not police, but they are like police. This is the only nation, where they give you power to make laws and they would not give you power of enforcement. What is the essence of having state laws, when you don’t have state police to implement the laws? It is just because of the ingenuity of Lagos State that we have LASTMA officials to enforce traffic laws and KAI officials to enforce environmental laws. It is because we don’t have the real tool of enforcement, which is state police. We see police all over, but can the state Governors control them. People introduce politics into everything and say that the state governors would use the state police against their opponents. People should now realise that it is not even possible because power is so dynamic that nobody can keep it to himself. If you use it against people today, some few months later, another set of people would take over and they would use it against you.
What benefit would that be then to Nigerians?
At the end of the day, we will see that we don’t need to use the police against ourselves. Also, the major period of politicking in Nigeria is six months before the election, what about the three years and six months? The constitution says the major function of the government is to secure lives and properties of the citizens.
As a President, no matter how good you think you are, you will not carry gun. The function of the president is not to carry firearm, so we can make a 100 year old man President once he has the health to carry it.
He is not going to be the person to solve all the problems. The most important and difficult decisions would end up on his table; other difficult problems would be solved by others along the line. There are some decisions that you would need the president’s voice to solve. It was just like, when they said our President didn’t talk, you want our president to be a talkative, to be talking everyday, then we would not have President now. There are so many people that can talk and resolve issues before him. That is the problem we are facing now, security should not be limited to the centre. Most of our insecurity issues are residual.
Don’t you think Amotekun can come in here in the South-West to reduce insecurity?
They are just trying to do something because in Nigeria the greatest problem we are having is trust. We don’t trust ourselves. We agree that we are diverse in Nigeria, but our diversity ought to be our strength. If that is even our strength, why are we talking about Fulani herdsmen, can Fulani come and take over your area. When they talk about herdsmen, I said the only thing we could do is to make the job a business, don’t make it a tribal thing. Tell them; if you are interested in the business go into it fully.
If the government says you cannot rear cow by moving them around, let the government tell them to buy land for the cows to rear them. It is only we the southerners that eat cows, the northerners don’t.
They rear it, but we are the ones eating it; majorly they bring them to the South-West. If you say you don’t want them to rear cows, then you don’t want to eat meat. The northerners only eat the rib area of the cow, we eat the meat, but we cannot rear it due to our own situation. I told people that look at our tropical situation; there are some things that would not work here. We cannot plant some food crops successfully here unless you are ready to spend a lot of money on insecticides to kill all those insects that could destroy the crops.
Their own atmospheric condition in the north is different. Some parts of the place are Savannah, the land itself is hot a little, they would only need to do irrigation, they don’t need insecticides. So, they make money easily from what they are doing. But here we need to do more and spend more if we want results.