Monday, February 12, 2024 4:28 pm
In this interview, Otunba Henry Dele Ajomale, lawyer, technocrat, former Commissioner for Special Duties, and one-time chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Lagos State chapter, speaks on the state of the nation.
How would you assess State of the Nation?
It has so many edges. You have to understand that the country has faced serious challenges over the years. However, both the military and civilian should be blamed for the country’s situation.
The day Aguiyi-Ironsi changed Nigeria from Federal to Unitary Government; that was when it started going down. We just have to start the building of what Nigeria was supposed to be and what Nigeria is going to be!
Successive governments – both military and civilian – have bastardised this country. And they have balkanised it too! We need somebody to repair it now; that is the last hope that we have. We need someone who is courageous, bold and strong to lead this nation now; otherwise, we are working towards /a failed state. When you are spending over 90 per cent of your revenue to pay for loans and yet, you don’t see what they did with those loans.
We believe that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is going to be the saviour of this country and we pray that God helps him to navigate his way out of these problems. One must be bold enough to resist the temptation of these Buccaneers. Removing petroleum subsidy is not a small joke. So many of our presidents couldn’t do it, they were not bold enough. They were thinking that if they did, they would be killed or they would be exposed. So, many of them, didn’t have the courage! And don’t you think these buccaneers would fight back? They will fight back! And that is exactly what we are witnessing today.
While government is working hard to ensure that its laudable programme is achieved; somebody is seated somewhere to see how this programme would fail. All for his own selfish interests. And once you don’t have a president that is bold enough to say enough of all this nonsense, they would continue to put everyone in trouble. And that is what signifies what this government stands for: the benefit of people of this country. I have absolute confidence in the ability of President Tinubu to turn around the fortunes of this country for the better.
How do you rate President Asiwaju Tinubu’s economic policies since May 29?
This is exactly what l’m saying. President Tinubu is the only person that is bold and courageous enough to take the economy out of the woods. The steps he has taken within the period of assumption of office and now are there for people to see. Nobody would take step without resistance from so many quarters. That is part of the boldness!
But it seems the economic hardship people are passing through now is becoming unbearable?
No pain, no gain; no pain, no gain! Those who are supposed to be blamed are there. But we must endure for a while; otherwise, if we don’t follow through with this programme, we would all have ourselves to blame. We are praying for Nigeria to be where it is supposed to be; it shouldn’t be in this position. lf we had true democratic governance like before – You know true federalism so that every regions develops at its own pace, and to a certain level, Nigeria, today, would have been the pride of every region.
The way these regions were going, if they had continued, we would have been there by now. Even without oil, Nigeria was the pride of every nation today. And because of the oil boom that we found ourselves – everybody relaxed. Everybody was running after cheap money; nobody thought of working. And we continued to ask ourselves: ‘Why do we need to work when we have so much money?’ Forgetting that this is going to be temporary; it’s not going to last. We need something enduring in political calculation that would take Nigeria out of this wood. And l’m happy that this government has taken the first step. A lot of people are living fat on the wealth of this nation. Some people are tapping the oil, which belongs to every Nigerian free of charge and becoming billionaires overnight. I’m happy that they have detected that! During the last regime and the one before, they didn’t do much to stop the illegality, that is, siphoning of Nigeria’s wealth. And a lot of people have made their money through that and they are saying Nigeria doesn’t have foreign exchange. How can they have foreign exchange when these same people will sell this oil, collect the money and come to be inflating the Naira the more. But once there is scarcity of foreign exchange, the Naira is bound to fall because everybody is running after the small money that is available. And if you make it on market forces, you are wasting your time; you won’t get there, because there are some people who are bringing this money on speculation and there is round tripping.
They have to check those excess by the banks and other people who are getting free money through oil and other means. We have to block those holes and without that, we are not getting anywhere. And l think that’s what this government is doing now. Yes, it is hard, but it is not the creation of Tinubu. He is trying to block all these holes where some people are making fortunes. And where this money is coming from the Commonwealth, Nigeria will be better for it.
Will you commend Government Ekpemupolo, alias, Tompolo over the security of oil pipelines in the Niger Delta?
Oh yes, they have done a lot! I congratulate anybody that is sensible enough to be able to secure the protection of the oil pipelines. It is only a thief that knows the way of a thief. He was identified, made a contractor and now, we are getting out of it. Don’t you know how millions of dollars that we have saved thus far?
President Tinubu had said the election that brought him into office was the most credible in the country’s history. Do you really agree with this?
If he can lose in his own base, then there is element of truth in that. If it were in other areas and countries, there is no way it would have happened. That you find somebody influential as Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu losing in his own base? So, he lost it! Fine! And he accepted! That he lost and that is democracy but gained it from others who liked him. He would have done everything possible to rig that election in Lagos if he were not a democrat because that is his base. Look at Labour Party (LP), did Obi lose any of the state in the Southeast? No! He didn’t lose anywhere but Asiwaju lost in Lagos! How can you now find election’s credibility more than that? Lost here, gain there; and that made up the number. So, to me, it’s still the most credible election. This time around, it was a tough one; it used to be between the two political parties but other political parties influenced it! Don’t you know how many political parties have members in the House of Representatives and the Senate? Unlike before where only two political parties have their members in both houses.
It has changed and that is why it makes it more positive that we have a better future.
Do you think the country might have an independent judiciary under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration?
I think so; it is possible! If he doesn’t do it, it is to the detriment of the judiciary in this country. The more you take care of them, the better. If they are comfortable, nobody would think of collecting bribe. So, they must be made comfortable in order to be able to do their jobs effectively and efficiently without interference on their jobs.
Now, what do you think should be of more concern to us as Nigerians?
Of more concern to us is to have a good government, enough food for the poor, employment opportunities and security for all. lf there is no peace and people are kidnap here and there, then, how can you be able to work and have peace of mind. And without guaranteeing security, how can the country move forward! And l know, with the security steps that they are taking now, I have no doubts in my mind that this time around, the chiefs of staff of the Military – Army, Navy and Air-Force should be able to do something different from the past now.
Thus far, how would you assess the governance of Governor Sanwo-Olu? Do you really think he is meeting up with the expectations of the people?
Governor Sanwo-Olu is doing his best; if somebody has the whole money in this world, he will never satisfy the yearning of the people.
*Continue to read from the source: The Guardian