Senator Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja is the former governor of Oyo State and high chief of Ibadan land. He has been an astute politician and a king maker who determines who rules Oyo State.
In this interview with BusinessHallmark’s Olusesan Laoye, he talked about the current national issues of insecurity, rotational presidency, agitations by different ethnic nationalities cĺamouring for self determinations, what he described as the Northernisation Agenda which President Muhammadu Buhari is now carrying out to the letter and the future of Nigeria.
The latest issue in Nigeria is about the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu in the East and Sunday Adeyemo aka Sunday Igboho in the South West. Both are in the forefront for the agitations for seĺf determination of their people and the Nigerian government is now treating them like criminals. What is your reaction to this?
Let me be frank with you, it is not the arrest of these two people singled out by the federal government of Nigeria that is important to me but the fact and the reality that it is the government that created them. For instance, Igboho could not have surfaced if not for the fact that his people in Igangan were being killed by Fulami herdsmen with impunity and nothing was being done to apprehend the culprits. Everybody has said it even the Alaafin of Oyo said, it is insecurity of the people that created Sunday Igboho.
You can imagine that if criminals were arrested and handed over to the police they would be released and claimed that the order to release them came from above. The situation is not being handled properly by the security agencies particularly by the police which made the people to resort to self help and it is in this process that Sunday Igboho was created.
The people of Igangan and Igboho experienced a lot of murders at that time and what angered the people most was the killing of Professor Aborode and a female petrol dealer who were slaughtered in the same manner and nobody was apprehended. It was said that some people boated that if they were arrested, nothing would happen to them and It was in that context that Igboho came into the picture.
Let us tell ourselves the truth; his arrest would not change anything; there would still be many Igbohos and Kanus to come because people would not just sit down and watch their people being killed or maltreated. No doubt, reactions would come from the people. Look at it, how many times has Ortom the Benue State governor been crying out that his state was being invaded by herdsmen and those occupying them are still staying put, after killing his people. I said it the other day that some people in the North may have planned to go away from Nigeria and to even redraw the map of the country. They must have determined where they want to do away with before they eventually declare where they are going.
Things have never been as bad as this in Nigeria and I just hope we are going to survive it. It is also sad that despite the situation, President Buhari has been looking the other way. Right now, no one knows what would happen to Kanu and Igboho. They should not just single out somebody from the crowd. The way the Nigerian government is handling the situation has made both Kanu and Sunday Igboho to be acclaimed leaders.
With the situation of things now, if caution is not taken in handling the Kanu and Igboho’s cases they could boomerang. The federal government should not be one sided and as they are declaring amnesty to Boko Haram people, they should do that to Kanu and Igboho. What the government should realise is that people are agitating for what they believed in and that is why I kept saying that Kanu and Igboho should not be treated like criminals.
What do you think the insecurity portends for Nigeria and the consequences?
If we have to go by the position of the Benue state governor and which I too would repeat now, it appears that the Present Government in Nigeria is not serious and sincere in fighting insecurity; may be now they are waking up. When President Buhari came into power his first statement was that he was for everybody and for nobody. But now, one would say he is for some people and not others. Presently Nigerians are apprehensive that there is inequality in the treatment of citizens because the power has been concentrated in the hands of one ethnic group. The Military, police, DSS and security apparatus are concentrated in one group. Most of the time the President stays too long to react or say something on urgent and pressing national issues.
The other time he spoke, tension died down and that was after a lot of prompting. I think there is the need for the President to talk to us more so that Nigerians would be reassured. Honestly, the thinking in some quarters is that insecurity in Nigeria would continue until justice is being done.
Right now, the motives of Boko Haram is not known and they are not even known. What’s also bothering Nigerians is the role that Sheik is playing as a mediator for bandits and how he keeps on negotiating for ransom on behalf of bandits! Honestly this is worrisome. Gumi has made us to know that these people are known and can be contacted. They are no longer faceless. That is why people are saying that the government is not yet ready to end insecurity because I know that anytime this government is ready the bandits would be crushed.
Some people have expressed dismay about the way people in the military, especially top hierarchy were being killed by bandits; what is your reaction to this and the future of Nigeria?
Well, may be, with the military now facing the same thing as ordinary people, they would do something about insecurity. I hope they would wake up because it is sad that a whole General was killed just like that and up till now his killers have not been found. It is very sad and pathetic that a Nigerian General was being slaughtered on the street close to Abuja. The other time too, we heard of traditional rulers being kidnapped and killed in different parts of Nigeria, especially, in the North and even Daura, the home town of President Buhari. This shows that something is wrong somewhere.
We would want you to comment on the controversy going on now about the transmission of the election result electronically?
This brings us to the attitudes of Nigerians and those in power. Let me ask who is in charge of the elections; is it INEC or who? The electoral body which is INEC said it has the facilities to do the job and that it is ready but some people are saying no. I just don’t know what is wrong with us in Nigeria and the unnecessary problems we always create for ourselves. I think we should all just ignore the National Assembly. It has shown now that some people just wanted to rig the election. I am sure the president would not sign the bill.
The INEC, on its part, would want to prove that it is capable with the elections of Anambra, Osun and Ekiti that would come up before 2023. INEC would want to transmit the result electronically and I am also sure that if there were lapses, they would perfect it before 2023 general elections.
What is your take on the voices from both leaders and youths in the North that the area would remain in power after Buhari because they still need another four years to balance the periods spent by the southerners – I mean by former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Good Luck Jonathan – put together?
Let me tell you the truth, the issue of power shift, to me, is as a result of mistrust and injustice and I hope one day we would realise that it is not where the Presidency comes from that matters but the best candidate, irrespective of where he or she is from. That is my vision. But the way things are going in Nigeria today shows that President Buhari came into power with an agenda.
The agenda when you look at it closely is to get the homestead for his kinsmen, the Fulani. The situation in Benue is a typical example. The governor of the State has been crying for a long time about the ways his people were being killed and the herdsmen occupying their lands.
The governor even said that 15 out of the 18 local governments in the State have been occupied by the Fulani and the occupation is still going on, yet, the President has not done anything about it. He has not drafted soldiers there to chase them out. This to some people is an agenda being carried out and Benue State governor is saying it repeatedly too. On the rotation of the presidency I think the present government has further promoted North/South dichotomy which was not as glaring as it is now. The rotational thing was not a general idea before now. It was the creation of politicians and the political parties to get election votes from all the areas.
Let me bring you back to what happened in 1999 after MKO Abiola won the election in 1993 and was not allowed to rule. Some of us in the South West came together and we said any party that we would join must give us the Yoruba the presidency. That was what brought Olusegun Obasanjo in Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and Chief Olu Falae in Alliance for Democracy (AD) which was purely a Yoruba party. This was to compensate us for Abiola and it was not by accident.
Some of us complained about the injustice done to us in 1993, so when the parties were being formed, it was said that the South West must be compensated for the loss of Abiola who won but not allowed to rule. We told them that if you think that all of us belong to one Nigeria there was no point in preventing Abiola from ruling since he won the election glaringly, except that you hate us the Yoruba. But they said no; we did not hate you and that was how it was agreed in PDP that the Presidency must come to Yorubaland and AD too presented a Yoruba candidate.
To be frank, the situation is not the same now. The present agitation that the Presidency must shift to the South was borne out of lack of confidence and trust.
This situation is what is causing the agitations here and there, from ethic nationalities for restructuring and self determination. So far the position of the federal government is still very cloudy on this. Let me reiterate here. I was a member of the 2014 National Conference of President Good Luck Jonathan. At the conference we made some vital and major decisions that if they were implemented, Nigeria would not be in this mess we found ourselves now.
We believed that Jonathan ought to have implemented them immediately but maybe he felt that he would wait till his second term which he did not get. But whatever is the case may be one would have expected President Buhari to look into the report’s in his first term. If the government of Buhari has endeavoured to look into the report, as soon as he came into office, I am sure we would not find ourselves in the present situation.
Again do you think the present situation has been the reason why the Southern governors came together demanding with one voice that no matter what the South must get the presidency or nothing in 2023?
This is another thing. Who in the south and where in the south? I said earlier, that where the presidency comes from is not important to me but whoever can bring Nigeria together. What we are going through now is frustrating to some of us, who fought for Nigeria and the ongoing democracy. We fought intellectually, morally, physically and financially. We left what we were doing to join politics with the hope of effecting a change. We made a lot of sacrifices but unfortunately this is not the Nigeria of our dream. By now, Nigeria should have moved forward and we should not be talking about North/South at this time.
What I believe Nigerians should care about is competence. Is the person competent or not and does he have the love and the interests of Nigeria at heart, that is what is important to me.
What is your comment on the Petroleum Industry bill?
Look at that too. It is like we don’t know what we are doing in Nigeria. How do you expect those who have the oil to get 3% and 30% for exploration where you may not find oil? This is very sad and I am sure the President would not sign that too.