Northern governors have no basis to reject power shift – Akande

Member of Lagos State House of Assembly, representing Ojo Constituency 1, Victor Olusegun Akande, spoke with OLADIPUPO AWOJOBI on Nigeria at 61, the way forward to resolving the myriad of challenges facing the country, denouncing the Northern governors position on power shift, anti – open grazing law and sundry issues.Excerpts…

Nigeria marked her 61st Independence anniversary yesterday, any cause for celebration?

Let’s celebrate life that we at this period are alive. Aside that, I will ask you, what are we celebrating. Are we celebrating our downtrodden economy and inability to move our development to the next level and insecurity?

The only thing we can celebrate is being alive. Many things are so bad that we never envisaged after independence. How could we imagine that Nigeria would be comatose after over 61 years of independence?

We thought we would have been one of the world’s powers and one of the best countries in the world by now, but that is not so. It is a pity that we still find ourselves in this tragedy. I don’t think if the right word to use is ‘celebrate’ or we should just think about our numerous problems. We have to go back to the drawing board to see why we are still where we are at this moment. What has led to our present situation and look inward to see how we can get out of this situation and forge ahead. So we don’t have much cause to celebrate.

But we have had democratic rule for 21 years and people expected the political class to have done much, what do you think is wrong?

To destroy does not take long time, but to build takes time. You can destroy a building within one hour, but do you know how many weeks and months it would take to rebuild the house? Our scenario is like that.

The process of building and rebuilding takes a longer time. It might take a government few years to destroy a nation, but it will take many years to build the nation. Look at the #End- SARS saga that occurred in Nigeria last year, how many days did it take them to destroy those things and do you know how many months it has taken Lagos State government to rebuild the structures that were destroyed in the state and the financial implications that run into trillions of naira?

If what we know is how to destroy, but we don’t know how to build, then there is a problem.

So, what is the way forward now?

The way forward is to know where we are, where we are coming from and where we are going. The way forward is to think, rebuild ourselves and have the culture of good governance and good citizenship. It is not only the people in power that are destroying the sanctity of the state, it includes the general public, and everyone is involved. You cannot sow cassava and reap corn, it is not possible. It is what you sow that you will reap. If all that we have done is to build the people that will destroy the economy of the state and we don’t build people that can build then there is problem. It is the people we raise that we will put in government. The time for rebuilding is now, it is good for us to study where we got it wrong and amend. We should be thinking of industrialisation in Nigeria. Nations such as Malaysia, China, and Singapore started from somewhere, they did not start in a day, it was a gradual process. So rebuilding is a gradual process.

How do we resolve the increasing insecurity problem in Nigeria?

We are the architects of our own problem. We have to sit down and talk. Who are those responsibility for insecurity, are they not citizens of Nigeria, what led them to what they are doing, how do we solve what they are doing? Number one, we have to re-orientate ourselves and tell ourselves the truth. Re-orientation comes with restructuring. We have to discuss among ourselves about how we want to live together. What happened in 1914 was a marriage of inconvenience, it’s like marrying a wife that was recommended by your parents, when there is no love and when you enter the marriage, it is not easy to pull out. But if you must pull out then it is going to be gradual and it will take a lot of talking. If you are looking at the way forward on how to solve our problems, we need to sit together, there must be a referendum, we must agree that we want to live together and where it is not possible, we should find amicable settlements or we go our separate ways.

But we had constitutional conference in 2014 and the APC –federal government appears not interested in implementing it and they have not organised any either, why is this so?

When you say APC – led government, it means you are from another planet or country. God will give you the type of leaders that you deserve at every point in time. So, it is better everybody gets that into his or her head. God has a hand in everything, sometimes God will raise a bad leader to punish the people to change their ways. They are our government and leaders and they are not bad.

Bu don’t you think the report of the 2014 constitutional conference ought to have been implemented?

Even at that the people that were there, were they not selected, were they elected? The participants were not elected to represent the people, they were selected by the people in power then.

There is a war going on now on Value Added Tax (VAT) tax, do you think states should collect it directly or allow the federal government to collect it and help poor states from it?

Again, we are dealing with an issue of law, we have to explore all the laws in the country where is it written that VAT is on the exclusive list. The state can legislate or work on anything that is not on the exclusive list. Consumption tax or VAT, according to the Constitution, is not on the exclusive list. It is another means of generating revenue for the state. Let’s come to reality, if your state says it does not want alcohol to be consumed in the state so why do you want to share from what you tag as evil money with the states that allow consumption of alcohol? It doesn’t make sense. That is sheer stupidity and madness, it means you are calling me a fool. We are generating N46 billion and they are generating N2.8 billion and they take the whole money and from the N46 billion they give us N9 billion. It is not right. If you are not working and I am working tirelessly I should be allowed to make use of my money and spend the money on the people that pay the money. It is the duty of a State House of Assembly to make laws for the good governance of the state. So, if the state assembly considers it as a duty and prerogative to make a law on an issue, so be it. They should put up the necessary law on this because if there is no law the state can be sued. There is nothing like double taxation, if the state has made the law they can agree with the federal government on what they would give them and it should not be more than that of any other state to encourage other states to start thinking.

Southern state governors made law on anti – open grazing that some people said cannot be implemented since they don’t have state police, what is your view on this?

Every state has a right to make laws for good governance as well as protection of lives and property. The law on open grazing has come to stay in the states where they made it. Let’s go to the rural areas, the people there go to farms and grow cassava and other crops. Also, some of them engage in subsistence farming to take care of their families and somebody comes, destroys the farmlands and you are saying that is normal. It is an abnormality of the highest order. You are making money from cattle rearing and I live my life on the farms and you are supporting someone to come and destroy my farms and pay nothing. How does it sound? If the states say they want to stop this, I am talking of what happens in the rural areas, so be it. The herders count cattle as their property and those in the rural areas live on farming. How can you allow another person to use his own property to destroy that of others?

The National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu appears to be interested in 2023 presidency election, what is your view on this?

He has built people, he has done a lot for the county, he has impacted and invested in people. Without Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu APC would not have come into being. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has worked so hard. What the northern governors said recently cannot be the true position of all the governors. There would always be party agreement and when it is time they will know. How can they say it is unconstitutional now to zone presidency, was it not unconstitutional when it was zoned to the north and nobody came out against them from the South West? They should be very careful so that they won’t send jitters to the fabric of the party and the country, so that we can continue to enjoy the peace we are enjoying.




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