Nigeria will boil if power returns to the north in 2023-Olokoba
London, July 23, 2019 (AltAfrica)-A youth leader in Nigeria, Comrade Razaq Olokoba, is a public analyst, social commentator and human rights activist. In addition, he is the National President, Campaign for Dignity in Governance (CDG), a coalition of over 70 civil society organizations.
In this interview with Alternativeafrica.com in Lagos, the vocal pro-democracy activist warned those insinuating retention of power in the north after President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure in 2023 to bury the idea saying, such a position would throw spanner into the wheels of the country’s political, economic and social progress.
According to him, the easiest terrain, the most peaceful terrain, the most workable terrain and the most acceptable terrain in 2023 is to allow a Yoruba man to become the President, warning that the country cannot absorb another political shock of June 12 Presidential election annulment now.
AltAfrica-What are your assessment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s first term in office?
We stand by saying that the template for the first four years in office has taken Nigeria to a credible level in the comity of nations. And if you look at the rating of Nigeria in the international community in terms of moral issue I think it is on the rise. The impression of international money lenders about Nigeria now is improving unlike before when we have it on record that when Nigeria was lent money, the money ended up in the private pockets of government officials. So, the music has changed now so has the dancing steps have equally changed. This means that the relationship of Nigeria with the rest of the world has tremendously improved. They can now point at Nigeria as a nation that is serious as a nation should be.
And back home, Buhari had a difficult start. And we are so lucky that the profile of the man Buhari shows that he is a peculiar human being. That is the reason we are able to survive as a nation. And that is the angle we have not been looking at. But if he was someone who does not have that kind of experience, maturity, dexterity and understanding of our political terrain, we would have been in a big mess by now.
AltAfrica-What impressed you about his first term in office?
His achievements changed the impression of the rest of the world about us. It is experience that has pulled Nigeria through in the last four years. If we want to be specific, if we look at our economy, before Buhari came on board, the major income for Nigeria was from oil which was being rejected worldwide by every country doing business with oil. So, we were operating a comatose economy at that time. The country was getting into bigger trouble because funds were no longer available to run our life. Ninety per cent of what we consumed was imported. And the currency used in importing those commodities was dollar and we don’t produce dollar here. It is the business that you do in the international market that earns you dollar that we used to buy all those commodities that we consumed. So the dollars were not coming in again. War would have come in that time but it was averted.
Now, we are back on our feet and moving forward as a nation. The economy is becoming healthy and healthy by every passing day. Agriculture, which is the business no country underrates or shuns. For instance, you can shun oil business and move to haulage, to telecom, to mining and to other businesses. But there is no country that will leave agriculture for any other businesses. While doing all the aforementioned alternative businesses, both serious and unserious nations also religiously pursue agriculture along with them.
In the past, we never took agriculture serious in Nigeria. No country has 100% of what it consumes, agreed. You can have 70% of what you consume. But you must have additional 30% of what you consume from thee international markets. But sadly and ironically, in Nigeria, we produce less than 5% of what we consume while we source for over 90% of what we consume from outside the county! But gradually under Buhari, we are producing more of what we consume now. We are heavy consumers of grains like rice. And today, we know the story about rice in Nigeria. Importation of rice has reduced drastically. We are also exporting yam now. And position of Nigeria in the exportation of cocoa is on the rise. Even raw materials that factories use in production are being made available in Nigeria. Factories are getting raw materials from agriculture. So, by and large, things are getting better for Nigeria economically.
AltAfrica-But people are still complaining about security challenges in the country. What can you say about that?
Well on security, you will agree with me that in every region in the country, there is what looks like a low scale war. If an Army General like Buhari is not at the helms of affairs in Nigeria, we would have been in a big mess. But because the General is at the helms of affairs, he understands perfectly the strategies and military tactics. Now if Boko haram rears their ugly heads today, their heads are cut off before the think of regrouping again. But it was not like that before when they had a permanent flags in some parts of the country as their own republic.
Then other challenges came in the east, in the west and kidnapping came as ingredients to all the crises we have on ground. And everything became diluted. But because of where Buhari is coming from as an Army General, he was able to locate specific strategies for each region. Buhari is a God sent to Nigeria. So, with all my analyses, you will agree with me that God sent Buhari to us when we need him most. If he had come earlier than now, maybe we would be stoning him by now.
AltAfrica-Then, what are your expectations in his second term?
Well, he is expected to sustain what he has started as I told you earlier. He would him surpass his earlier achievements especially with the friendly parliament on ground. The eighth Assembly members have given them away that if the National Assembly was expunged from the constitution, Nigeria would not have felt its absence. But take away the Judiciary; the nation would be in fiasco. Take away the executive for one week, we may not recover for ten years because it means you want to take away the Army, you want to take away the Police, you want to take away Central bank of Nigeria (CBN) that manages the economy of the country for one week.
So, you have to make yourself so relevant and so indispensable which the Parliament is missing! The Parliament is supposed to be the most relevant arm of the government because governance is essentially around the Parliament. Parliament is what started what we call the governance today. It is when two or three people meet to discuss the affairs of their community. It was what gave birth to both the Executive and the Judiciary. But sadly, in our own country, that arm is the most irrelevant in our affairs.
But luckily for us now, we have people who have the required charisma and impeccable character to lead our Parliament. We have people who are more patriotic and thankfully, we are going to have our nation back by having our Parliament back. We are having it back already but we want to have it more in our grip. And with what is already happening between the Parliament and the Executive today, hope is already rising to assurance that we are going to have our country back. Gone are the days when the Parliament used to hold the nation into ransom.
You cannot do that to nation by hiding the budget of a nation for seven months! You know that the fight between Russia and America in the Space before in the 60s, but today, it is not like that again. The countries go to the Space because there are some things that go on there that Africa was not aware of. Israel is there, Indians are there. And if you ask scientists, they say the earth is becoming contamination for habitation. It is a very dangerous discovery. But Africans are not in the Space.
Buhari is making sure that there is specific budget for education where scientists in Nigeria would have knowledge of is going on in the Space. It is in the budget. But someone delay it for seven months! So, our children who are supposed to learn about space, our lecturers who are supposed to go for refresher courses, attend seminars, do researches to understand the terrain of the earth and understand the outer space are being denied the opportunities! Imagine someone delaying the budget the first year for seven months, second year seven months, third year seven months and the fourth year seven months!
With this sad development, how do you get your children educated, how do you become masters of your terrain, how do you attain the required height and standard of education if you can access the budget money for the project because somebody was delaying the release of the funds meant for it?! But I have the strong conviction that the new Parliament would not be like that. With the present setting, it is going to be Eldorado for Nigeria. We are going to move at the speed required of us.
What we however expect from the citizenry is a level of corresponding support for the government. If a corresponding goodwill is given to this government, it would be better for all of us. I advise we avoid confusing and damaging criticism. We have to bury those destructive attitudes just as we would welcome constructive criticism followed by solutions.
AltAfrica –Where do you stand on the 2023 presidency matter?
That is a very interesting topic and really, we have to be very careful about it. Insinuations are going round already that the presidency would still remain in the north in 2023. And I say, the insinuation is a very dangerous one. Well, I know the insinuation that power would remain in the north by 2023 is a minority opinion. And the caution I want to throw is that about 26 years ago, when June 12 presidential election won by MKO Abiola was annulled, the country was healthy and working fine. The country could absorb all kinds of political shock as at that time.
In spite of that, the June 12 scenario shook the entire nation to its very foundation! The entire world stood still and paid serious attention to what was happening in Nigeria. And no patriotic Nigerian would want us to pass through that kind of agony again in our life as a nation. For those saying that power should remain in the north in 2023, maybe they think they have the numerical strength, it is a primitive demand and nobody things along that line again nowadays!
No matter the number of a people in a nation, you should consider them as a factor that if they cannot make, they can mar. You cannot deny them of both abilities to either make or mar. if they cannot control the process, they can destroy the process! If they cannot add value to the process, they can reduce value from the process. And that is the angle we must look at. The north, I mean the Hausa Fulani, was on the list of the most trusted ethnic groups in this country. But, that impression became battered by the roles they plaid during the June 12 crisis! And that is the impression Buhari is trying to correct now. He wants to create a new impression of who a true northerner is. He wants to create a new impression that a northerner is someone who is patriotic, someone who is not self-centred, someone who wants Nigeria to move forward and someone who wants the best for Nigeria. He wants to create a new impression that a northerner is someone who wants to build Nigeria to be respected in the comity of nation, someone who wants Nigeria’s economy to be among the best ten economies in the world. That is what Buhari is trying to do.
But the insinuation that power should not leave the north is not only unacceptable to the southerners; it must be classified as one of the primitive demands of the recent time. So, whoever has that kind of notion, even for tactical or strategic reasons, should know it is a dangerous kite to fly. It is a dangerous position to push. It would not earn Nigeria any good. And that idea should be dropped.
The most qualified ethnic group, the most qualified region to produce the next President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in2023 are the Yoruba people. Nations in the world today pass the most peaceful terrain now; nations in the world now had understood the danger of taking their people to pass through a difficult terrain in the past. So, the easiest terrain, the most peaceful terrain, the most workable terrain and the most acceptable terrain in 2023 is to allow a Yoruba man to become the President. The demands are so little and understandably, majority of northerners would accept the proposal that a Yoruba man should come on board.
There may be furious and disregardable resistance from the north, but in the south, there is no sane Yoruba man that would say that his kinsman should not become the president. I am yet to see such a man’s position to justify that.
For our Ijaw brothers, it is natural for them to say that for the principle of fairness, we should allow other ethnic groups to preside over the affairs of the country. Ditto for our Igbo brothers because they know their fate is secured under a Yoruba President. So, what I am saying essentially is that Yoruba have the capacity to sustain what Buhari is doing at the moment. We have the capacity to cement the relationship between every single ethnic group in Nigeria. If you look at the way we are relating with Buhari, it was the same way we have given support to Ijaw Presidency. And you will remember very well that we are also constant in support of the Igbo in their pains and aspirations.
With our fairness, the fate of every Nigerian would be considered positively. And by the time we return Nigeria to Nigerians after our eight years of good governance, there would be the guarantee that, what Buhari had done is not going to be a waste. In addition, we are going to add a lot of tremendous colour to the contributions of what Buhari has done already. In fact, Yoruba presidency after Buhari would also move Nigeria more forward.