By Uche Amunike
This week, I bring you excerpts of an interview with a good friend of mine, Kayode Ajulo. This brilliant lawyer and human rights activist was the National Secretary of Labour Party(LP). He’s also the founder of a non-governmental organization, Egalitarian Mission of Africa. A respected voice in the local and international media and an active one in advocacy campaign for global good governance and democracy, he is a leading voice against corruption, nepotism and injustice. Today, he speaks on several issues such as the controversy surrounding Executive Order 6, 2019 Presidential Election, anti-corruption war and so on.
Please read on…
Former president Olusegun Obasanjo endorsed Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the PDP presidential candidate for the 2019 presidential election. Do you see his endorsement carrying any weight?
I want to believe that Olusegun Obasanjo only has one vote to start with, and he contested for presidential election twice in this country, and we know the position of the Yoruba during that time. Despite the fact that he was the candidate, his people refused to vote for him, how much more now that he is not even a candidate. So, the question we need to ask is ‘what will his vote do?’ We have to give it to him; he remains one of the greatest Nigerians alive today. I am not looking at the moral aspect of it, but for somebody to be a president twice, and in peculiar circumstances, I want to believe that the Almighty God is saying something. But when you want to say whether that one will now translate to votes, I think with my little experience in politics as a former National Secretary of a political party, I must say there are indices, sentiments that always come with election, and I don’t think it really matters. However, as Christians, I think we need to congratulate Obasanjo for bearing no grudges against anybody. We should applaud him for that.
Atiku also said that he will restructure the country in six months if he becomes president. Do you see this as a reality?
Atiku really does not even need six months to restructure. I think two months is even too much to restructure the country. I think we need to realize what we call restructuring. The only time Nigeria have been allowed to talk without any form of interference, that passed through the test of time legally and morally, was during the London Constitutional conference, during the time of Tafawa Balewa, Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, Nnamdi Azikiwe, that was when all the ethnic nationality came together, and were allowed to talk. We deceive ourselves when we say we have one nation, because there are lots of nationalities in Nigeria. I have been following this argument that we have a constitutional provision that says that for you to restructure, you need to tinker with the constitutional provision. That is a lie.
One of the major impediments of our restructuring is how to have equitable distribution of wealth. It could be done by just changing revenue sharing formula, you don’t need the constitution to do that. RMAFC is there. The constitution and statute enabling that commission gave them freedom at every time to advise the federal government on revenue formula. What stops the chairman of the commission to say that the revenue formula needs to be changed in order to address the issue of restructuring? I don’t think that one will take more than 2 or 3 days. So, I believe Atiku may have a genuine intention when he said he will restructure in six months. This is something that could be done within few weeks and not six months, if actually we want to be pragmatic about it. We need to really understand what it means to restructure. The Yorubas seem to be in the forefront of the agitation for restructuring but till now, they seem not to get it right.
Restructuring is not about taking something from one ethnic group and giving it to another group. By restructuring it means to know what you have, and to know how to harness it for the wealth of the nation. Today, Apple Company posted $1tr. Our budget in Nigeria for the whole year is N7tr. Apple Company doesn’t have oil as we have here. They have brains. The human resources of Nigeria, the potentials of Nigeria are bigger than the oil we are fighting one another for. That is the essence of restructuring, and we need to realise that. In Niger, you need to know the mining going on there. Who are those in charge? I don’t even think the federal government is interested. Even if they are interested, it is minimal. Nigeria happens to be the greatest country in terms of mineral resources, but why are we not harnessing this? Every nook and cranny of this country has great potentials, but because of the focus on oil, everybody has forgotten this.
Anytime I am in London, I like going to Liverpool that is where you see all those ships. Go through the harbour, and you will see great names of Yorubas from Idanre, from Ondo, from Akoko. These are great cocoa merchants. These were the people who have been great over fifty years ago. Above all, the power that is being concentrated at the centre is something that calls for concern. How can the federal government solely control 60% of Nigerian wealth, while 36 states share the rest?
President Buhari got fewer votes in the South-East during the 2015 election. Do you think he has made enough in-roads between then and now to get more votes in 2019?
I don’t think so. It is something that even the blind man could see that he even has more problems in the South-East. It is so clear, and I am sure that if he was to be interviewed, he would tell you that where one of his biggest headaches would come from is the South-East, particularly with how the issue of IPOB was poorly managed.
Atiku Abubakar has chosen Peter Obi as his running mate. Do you see this affecting the chances of Yorubas in the presidential election?
I want to believe that this may be the last time Atiku will have the chance to contest election, and I want to believe that he is aware and has realized this. All his steps and choices will be well calculated. The choice he made concerning his running mate is something that everyone is proud of. I know Peter Obi as a great leader who is well respected. The same thing with Professor Yemi Osinbajo, he has been able to function in the office with a posture that one is proud of. Yorubas are enlightened; we discuss politics of issues, not politics of sentiment. I don’t believe picking Peter Obi will now make Yoruba vote against Atiku. If you really want answer to this, you can check what happened in 1999, and what happened in 2003, despite the fact that a son of the soil from Yoruba land, Olusegun Obasanjo contested twice, and being the sitting president; you will see that where he had the least votes happened to come from his kinsmen. We look at issues, which is one of the things of being formally enlightened. I am so proud of my race. To say because Osinbajo is Yoruba, so we will all vote for him. No way! Yoruba won’t think that way.
Would you subscribe to the idea of a debate between President Buhari and Atiku so Nigerians can know what they have to offer?
Certainly, if I am to employ a messenger, which is the least position in my office, I subject them to interview. Debate is part of the interview, and I believe anybody that is contesting for presidency should be able to come before the people to tell them that this is what he has to offer to them.
Since you left your position as National Secretary of Labour Party, it seems you have been somehow apolitical. Have you bid farewell to politics?
I think you can agree with me that every human is political in nature; it depends on how you play politics. I want to say that whether we like it or not, our interaction is part of politics. I would not lie about this; I have been having a lot of offers every day, in the federal, legislative, and even the executive. About three political parties have already offered me the position of Vice President, but one thing I always do is that I have a checklist, I have to check if it is okay or not. If it is okay, I will go for it, but if it is not okay, I will decline. Again, it is not over until it is over.
Thanks for your time, Sir.