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Published On: Sat, Jul 1st, 2017

National Conference’s Report will stop agitations of maginalisation all over Nigeria – Akerele-Bucknor

Senator Kofo Akerele Bucknor is the former Deputy Governor of Lagos State. She is also a strong South West Leader and member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In this interview with Olusesan Laoye, she believes that agitations over marginalization and threats going on all over the country would not stop until the government listen to the people and proffer solutions to the issues. She was also of the opinion that the solution to the problems of agitation is in the recommendations of the 2014 National conference which the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is not ready to release or implement.

Excerpts`

 

How will you describe the present political situations in Nigeria today?

The political situation in Nigeria now is very chaotic and hazardous. Couple with this, we have a government at the centre that appears does not to know what it’s doing. The people now at the centre made some ridiculous promises which they have not been able to keep. I don’t think they are listening to the people. They have not been listening to the people and task if you don’t listen to the people how then you will be able to govern properly?

Well there are insinuations that Lagos State in particular has been dominated by one man and this has been bothering the people especially those of you in the opposition, how do you think the state could get out of this?

The only way to get out of the one man show is to get out from the clutches of money politics. What is happening is that this one man show derives his success on money politics. It is also up to the people to decide whether they are going to take money and vote for a particular party and bear the consequences or they want real change. I believe that time has come for one man show or one man dominating the politics of Lagos to come to an end.

The issue of agitations in different s parts of the country, over marginalization and threat to existence by some ethnic groups against others in their domain are becoming rampant and going unabated. As one of the leaders in the South West and in the country how, can we put an end to this?

It is a known fact that there are various societies that are maginalised and there is no doubt about this. I think that was why former President Goodluck Jonathan who felt the agitations from the people decided to set up the 2014 National Conference, to address some of the issues causing the agitations and put an end to them. But this present federal government, instead of examining the recommendations of that conference,  which looked at the agitations, the economic issues and other areas, decided to keep the document and has not said anything about it, since it has been in power two years ago.

The people who were at the conference were know to be credible people across the country, who proffered certain solutions but from what we are seeing, it looks like the APC government wants to confine this recommendations to the archives. Let us face the truth; people are not going to stop agitating for what they think is their right, just because the documents are kept away. They will continue to do so until you listen to them and start making the changes which they require. The only solution to the agitations is to sit down and look at what the agitations are all about and make sure that they are solved.

Will you then say that the South West is marginalized too?

Yes; the region is marginalized.  You cannot say that because the South West has produced the Vice President, it has all.  When you look at the composition of those in government you will see that all the key appointments are from the North. Even there are some areas in the North too, feeling that they are marginalized. That is why it is necessary that the government should go back to the resolutions of the 2014 national conference which catered for some of these problems.

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Right now the National Assembly is calling on the Federal government to revisit the report of the conference what is your take on this?

I support the National Assembly on this move, because I was part of that conference and know that I gave up six months of my life to be at that conference. There are others too, who gave up their time to attend the conference to find solutions to many of the issues bedeviling Nigeria. I don’t see why the sacrifice of the people with best brains in the country should just be thrown aw

 Looking at the situations in the country, what then is your assessment of the present federal government which has been in office for two years? 

Let us first evaluate what is happening within the APC ruling the country. As a matter of fact, things are not well within the party. Even right in the party, some members are calling for a change and that is why the party has not been able to focus properly on governance.  The party has been in disarray right from day one that it took over from former president Jonathan. They have been fighting themselves over trivia issues, which now affect the people. They have not had the time to focus on what they need to do. As far as I am concerned, they have not done better than the government they took over from.   The performance of the government is one of the reasons why there are agitations all over the country.

As a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, based on what is on ground and the factor of money politics, do you think the PDP can win the governorship election in the state?

Why not? The party can win the state going by its performance in the last election. In the last elections you can see that the party made an impressive outing because we now have members in the state Assembly which used to be dominating by one political party.  We also have Representatives at the National Assembly.  If the tempo and the performance of the party in the last election are followed, with the PDP and other political parties coming together, there would be an end to the one man show, in Lagos politics.

Do you think the crisis in the PDP would be resolved before the next general elections and don’t you think the defection of some key members to other political parties PDP would finally disintegrate before 2019?

Let me say this, the crisis would be resolved. We are all waiting for the outcome of the Supreme Court judgment. It is this judgment that would determine the next line of action for the party. But the members, after the judgment, whichever way it goes, would come to a roundtable to determine the way forward.  As far as some of us are concerned, the defections of some of our members to other political parties or with the actions of some of them forming new political parties would not disintegrate PDP, which has the largest members in Nigeria.

Like I said earlier, we are all waiting for the outcome of the Supreme Court judgment.  Let me add this, the PDP has the strength to withstand any crisis that may come before it. Despite what we are facing, as we speak now, there are many people from the APC and other political parties all over the country, willing to join PDP, while those who had left are already warming their way back to the party.

Can you assess the infrastructural development in Lagos Stat in the last 15 years?

I don’t think there has been infrastructural development in the state but rather infrastructural decay. Be that as it may, though we are not in their political party, the new governor seems to be doing a lot to revive the infrastructure, in the state. He has been doing a lot and the people have started seen what he is doing in his two years in office.

Honestly why I said that Lagos State has been witnessing decay in infrastructures is because there has not been proper maintenance of roads, Lagosians don’t have water, no proper housing scheme for the masses, and there are chaotic traffic situation. I think the present governor Akinwumi Ambode is trying to solve that problem

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The issue of housing has been creating a lot of problem in Lagos State, especially in the metropolis, which has also affected the environment where people live, how do you think we can get out of this?

One major factor responsible for this is the fact that the price of registration of land is too high. Although the government is making a lot of money from this, notwithstanding, the government must do something about it. Because of the high price in land registration, people are running away to build low cost housing. I think something has to be done about this; if they want people to invest n low cost housing except the government is now prepared to tackle the housing problems on its own

Can you comment on the economic development of Lagos State in the last two decades?

Lagos has always been the economic centre of Nigeria and because of that there has been rapid economic growth and the growth is mostly in trading. In the 70s and even in the 80s the state experienced rapid economic growth because there were factories and industries all over the state.  This actually provided employment for our youths. Now there has been a decline and this started some years back, when the taxes were so high that a lot of industries started moving away from Lagos to Ogun State, and even Ghana and Ivory Coast.

While there has been growth in trading and commerce, the real economy has not grown. In fact it has declined because most of the factories have closed down. I do not believe that this is the kind of economic growth we need’s kind of economic growth needed is industrialization as it was in the past so that our people can get employment. This will also provide growth and services for our people a well.

How do you think this can be achieved?

Well in the present situation in the country and with so much on the hands of the government, I don’t see how this could be tackled. The fact is that the interest rate is so high and how do you expect people to come and invest under this kind of situation. The rates are too high for anybody who wants to do business. With that interest rate what type of profit do you think they are going to make with 18, 20 percent on any loan.

With this situation the government needs to review its economic policy, to be in line with what is happening all over the world. In other parts of the world, if they want to improve their economy they lower the interest rate, so that people could borrow at more economical rate and this has not happened with us in Nigeria.

Lagos State is now 50 years old; can you reflect on the old Lagos and the new and make comparison? Do you have a feeling of nostalgia?

Yes, I do have a feeling of nostalgia because the old Lagos I would say is Lagos Island and some parts of Mainland – Yaba and Ebute -Metta . What we feel now is the disintegration of people in Lagos. People and families have disintegrated and moved up. In those days Lagos was a very close knitted society, and everyone knew everybody. We now have a different Lagos where there are people from different parts of the country and many other places alike.

The state has even expanded beyond those areas that we called Lagos in our days to Agege, Idimu, Festac, Ipaja Amuwo Odofin and other areas.  This, to a large extent, has compounded the issues of accommodations and environment whch the state is now facing.  The population of Lagos is so much now that the government must have to continue to review its policies on many issues that affect the people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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