Prince Ayoade Adewopo was a governorship aspirant in the last governorship election in Osun State. He is also one of the political leaders in the state. He is a lawyer and holds a doctorate degree in jurisprudence. In this interview with BusinessHallmark’s Olusesan Laoye, he talked about the economy, security, and agitation for restructuring.
He condemned rising poverty and unemployment in Nigeria and concluded that Nigeria is in comatose and dwindling under President Muhammadu Buhari.
How will you assess the political situation in Nigeria?
Before I say anything we have to look at the atmosphere. Nigerians as they are today are angry; jobless, poor and agitated because a lot of promises made by the present government of the All Progressives Congress under President Muhammadu Buhari have not been fulfilled. We started with change in 2015 and we went to the next level in 2019. Now we are in the next level of abject poverty. The poverty index of the world has shown Nigeria right at the top of it. Government at the centre is clueless, as to how to get the people out of their predicaments.
The government is going cap in hand for external borrowing. The naira has fallen totally and depreciated to more than N500 per dollar. The forex market by banks is not durable for traders to access and it is also not obtainable. Now there is a ban on Bureau de Change. Coming to talk on the political situation, with what I have just said coupled with the economic situation I will say that the political situation is tense and that Nigeria is dwindling.
With the PDP governors crossing to the APC, where the situation there is so bad to the extent that President Buhari has called on the vice President Yemi Osinbajo to take charge and a situation where the PDP is also trying to put its house in order I will sayas well that Nigeria is right now in a total state of comatose.
We are in a situation where ordinary citizens are afraid. We are back to a militarized civilian regime, where the voice of the opposition and even the people is being doused. We just hope the situation would get better.
In this respect can you assess the federal government of Nigeria now under Buhari?
The first thing is to talk about the party that brought about the government. The APC initially as a matter of fact, had a plan. It had a manifesto but not followed by this government. The party’s campaign was based on restructuring which has not been done. Nigerians are now clamouring for restructuring, decentralization and devolution of power. But the irony of it all is that people in power and from other parts of the country are mistaking restructuring for secession.
It is the silence and ineptitude of the present government that failed to reason with the people that made the government to think that those who are calling for restructuring are calling for secession. Let us restructure so that people would not be working and as well as be starving.
The South South producing the oil is one of the poorest zones in Nigeria.
Why would the South west that is the economic, industrial manufacturing and finance centre of Nigeria not have anything to show for that?. Why is it that the middle Belt which is agric centre not able to control its economy? The North East and North West have farm lands. We are blessed with a lot of mineral resources in all parts of Nigeria. That is why the APC must go back to the drawing board and within the remaining period it has to spend in government get Nigeria fixed.
Do you think with the ways the country is being managed in the last few years that the APC has the ability and capacity to fix Nigeria?
I have always said that when the head is rotten, the body would be rotten. I have been saying that; the man at the helms of affairs has no intellectual capacity to run a country like Nigeria of 2021 and beyond. There are a lot of things happening in the world today that high intellectual capacity and ability do matter. The capacity to do what is right is not there for this government.
How can Nigeria now get out of the mess?
Let Nigerians go out to vote. They should go out and register and vote out bad government.
I do not believe in arms carrying and violence. I believe in the power of the ballot system.
People should come out to vote and stand by their vote to make it count and to effect a better change that would enhance their lives and give them a better future.
Will you now say the present government is a failure or how do you assess it?
Yes it has failed the people. This is not the Buhari Nigerians voted for in 2015. They fell into the APC trap thinking that they have got a messiah. Things are not the way people expected. The country, like I said, is in a complete mess. The government has silenced everybody. The people at the National Assembly are not alive to their responsibilities; they have compromised under Buhari. They are not listening to the people anymore but their leaders and their political parties. is very sad.
This brings us to the issue of insecurity banditry and nepotism of government, which has made other zones to demand for restructuring. What is your reaction to all these?
Let us be frank to ourselves, the situation where poverty is rampant and people are hungry, insecurity would be on the increase, especially where it seems the government at the centre is being partial in handling security matters. You can’t imagine granting amnesty to people who are killing others, whereas people who have not killed but only voicing their opinions are the ones being killed by government. That is why people would continue to agitate and demand for their rights.
The issue of Boko Haram would have been settled if the government had taken the war right to their door steps and be serious about it. Our security architecture has failed us and we should not be ashamed to ask for external help. We need to fight insecurity because of ourselves, our children and future generations. Honestly, Nigeria is dwindling; we need a true Nigerian to rule Nigeria.
It is believed that if the other political parties have been playing their roles as strong opposition the ruling party would have sit up. What do you think?
Well I am a member of the PDP. Our party has not done its best to stand as a strong and formidable opposition. This is so not for any other reason but for the selfish reasons best known to the leaderships of the party. We need to sit up and get things done in the right way. We don’t react or talk until when there is a major problem. This is part of the problem Nigeria is facing because PDP has not done its job as a formidable opposition. A formidable opposition would do its job for the people but the PDP as we have it now is shying away from this role. We are not doing the opposition in the right way. We are behaving as if we are the party in power.
Even APC is doing the job of position more than the PDP. While they are in power, they still behave as if they are in opposition. The PDP is a party that loves the people; I just hope we get things right and come back to power to fix Nigeria. But right now before that time comes, we must brace up and do what is expected of us.
What will you say about the way the Federal government is handling the issue of Sunday Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu?
Well as a lawyer, I will not comment on their cases court but I will talk about the attitude of government. Like I said before now, the government is not handling the regional matters appropriately. Whether Igboho or Kanu they are both Nigerians first and their fundamental human rights should be respected. If their rights are being abused and abridged in terms of their speeches, then, there is a problem. We have not seen really in terms of reference, what their charges are. The government needs to go back to those regions where both of them are from and talk to them appropriately.
How will you assess the National Assembly?
Members of the National Assembly misplaced their priorities. They dance to the tune of their leaders and political parties, rather than dancing to the tune of their people who voted them to the house. It was as a shame that members of the National Assembly were absent during the proceedings on very important bills that concern their people. Some of them sold out and compromised. It shows that they don’t take Nigeria seriously. They are not acting responsibly. It also shows that they are selfish. With regards to the electoral bill as it affects the electronic transmission of results, I don’t see a big deal in that.
We have been doing that before and to me, there was no need making that a special issue. It should not have been a matter for the National Assembly and the NCC because INEC has been saddled with that responsibility. We have the Osun, Anambra \and Ekiti gubernatorial elections before the general elections in 2023. The process should be carried out in those places and by then INEC would have found out where the lapses are for rectification before 2023.
It is not good for people to know that Nigeria is not appropriating her resources and wealth adequately. We can get it done. And that is why we are asking for restructuring.
You are a politician in Osun State. Right now the state is in a mess politically; the major parties of the PDP and the APC are in disarray, what then is the future of both parties, as a key player in Osun politics?
As for the PDP we are doing our best to resolve the matter. The leaders are making sure that we put our house in order before the coming 2022 governorship election. Aljaji Shuaibu Oyedokun. Senator Olu Alabi, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Erelu Olusola Obada, Chief Ebenezer Babatope and others are working hard to ensure that we all come together and this would be achieved soon.
The APC know how they always settle their problems and I think they too would know how to resolve their.crisis as the two political parties would not want to go into a crucial election, such as the governorship’ with a divided house.