Adegbenro is suggesting that parliamentary government will be good for Nigeria, insisting no amount of policies can stop corruption under the presidential system in Nigeria
Otunba Rewane Adegbenro, an entrepreneur, was born into two political dynasties. His paternal grandfather, Chief Dauda Adegbenro, was the late Premier of the defunct Western Region. On the other side, his maternal grandfather, Pa Alfred Rewane was the late Pro-Democracy crusader and financier of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) that fought the military to a standstill in Nigeria.
Adegbenro is suggesting that the parliamentary System of government will be good for Nigeria, insisting that no amount of policies can stop corruption under the presidential system in Nigeria. He also speaks extensively on the state of the nation and proffers solutions to some of the country’s challenges.
What’s your take on the state of the nation?
I must confess that it has not been easy at all the way we see things since this government came into office. They try to do their best, but their best has not been enough because there is always room for improvement. In fact, one aspect that is getting everybody worried presently is the volume of lives that we have lost in this country in last three and a half years which is too enormous. Thankfully however, the government is putting in a lot of efforts to see that the killings are stopped and there are positive results towards that angle. Let us remember that President Buhari is just a single person. So, it is our collective responsibility to rally round him and his administration to help him succeed in his efforts to make Nigeria better for all and sundry. So, the government should come out with more bold plans to stem these killings especially in the north.
Then, on the poverty aspect of it, many Nigerians are suffering now. And the government is doing its best to see that the downtrodden are empowered with all sort of empowerment schemes and programmes and all that. Buhari should be commended for his administration’s efforts on agriculture which he is bringing back as the mainstay of our economy. After all, we are proudly eating Made in Nigeria rice across the country.
We often blame the past administrations for our present woes. But I don’t want us to continue to engage in this buck passing and blaming game.When a government gets into office, they know what they want to do before getting into office. You just have to get down and do what you are around to do in office. If past administrations were blamed for the mess and they have accepted their faults, what else are we expecting from them? So, we should stop the blaming game and settle down to perform as expected.
More importantly, we have not been able to tackle the education problems of our children. That is another area that constitutes problem for the country. When Chief Obafemi Awolowo was campaigning, I read his last campaign in the paper where he said that, those who make education of their children impossible would suffer for it sooner or later. And we are now realising it. And majority of those involved in the killings and maiming are not knowledgeable, they are not educated, they take drugs. Sadly however, majority of them are being sponsored by politicians. Majority of them, sadly are also not from this country. They are likely imported to destabilise this country and everybody is watching.
What would you suggest as the path to sanity in the country?
I believe that it is the duty of the government to make sure that all our borders are secured. Let the government close the borders for about six months or so and see what would happen. Our borders are porous and that is why you see the influx of nationals of neighbouring countries like Niger Republic, Chad, and Benin Republic and so on into Nigeria unchecked. Strangers just besiege Nigeria because of the impression that we are big with abundant resources to go round. They come here to do all sort of things. They may take over this country if given the opportunity. So it is left to our government to look inward and see what exactly we can do to stop all this nonsense.
Are you satisfied with the performances of former leaders while they were in office?
You see, like I said earlier, don’t let us get involved in passing bulk and trading blames because we won’t get anywhere. Whether we like it or not, past leaders have done their best. We should be tired of hearing that the administration of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that ruled for 16 years ruined this country. I am even surprised listening to a former governor who was with the PDP before joining the All Progressives Congress (APC), say PDP didn’t do anything for this country. He has forgotten so soon that he was part of that administration! He was governor for eight years and then Senator on the platform
of that PDP he is now castigating. When former President Olusegun Obasanjo was there for eight years, he was the one who paid all our debts. Well, he did not pay with money; he used his personality, his international connection to make sure that we were forgiven. And our creditors wrote off our debts. And that is a feat and Nigeria has forgotten about that! To me, whether we like it or not, past leaders have done their best. President Buhari is there today. And it would not be a surprise if he goes tomorrow and people start saying he did not do anything while in office! But we all know that there are certain areas that he has done well and will still do more before he finally bows out. But there must be improvement and he has to do more since it is his turn to be there today. So, I think by and large, I don’t want to get involved in blaming past leaders and all that. They have come, seen and conquered in their own little ways.
What is your take on the recycling of old politicians in the country?
Well, what I will say is that it is high time we adopted the system whereby the youth with younger and versatile brains, will come up to rule this country. My children, whenever I have problem with my phones of whatever brand, you will see the way these three, four years old would handle the fault! I cannot do it with my age and my experience and exposure. Whenever I exhausted my data, I will just call
on them to help me out because it seems they have special training from the womb that make them more advanced than us technologically. And the way we are talking and seeing things, they are not seeing and talking that way. They are more current in global events than us.
So, let us now encourage the younger ones, who now have better ideas about how a country should be governed to come up and take the mantle of leadership of this country. We should do the right thing. As far as I am concerned, I want the old people to allow the vibrant younger people to come up and get involved in governance. When we have 40 years old people, who are already professors in this country, what else do you want 80 years old people to be doing in political offices? Let this older politicians take the back seat and handle advisory roles behind the curtains. After all, they have been there since Independence. What else do they want? They should step aside and allow the younger ones to take the centre stage.
What system of government between the presidential and the parliamentary can work well for Nigeria?
I am telling you honestly, if we are asked to go for referendum now, I will mobilise and campaign for people to go for parliamentary system of government. It is this presidential system that has brought corruption and all other vices to us. We are wasting too much money and resources on the presidential system. We are not ripe for it. Even Britain, as advanced as they are, they still practice parliamentary system. It is only in America that presidential system is in operation because they have passed through many stages before the system came to stay. We have not got to that stage. There is no discipline here in Nigeria. So, how do you want us to continue this presidential system?
There is no amount of policies and manifestoes that can reduce corruption under the system. This is simply because the money involved in the system would make it impossible to stop corruption. The best we can do is to let Nigerians come out and decide. If I were the president today,
I will come out and say, ‘I have done my best and my best is not enough the way I look at it, and so I suggest we go back to the parliamentary system. ‘And if Nigerians are divided over it, then, let us go for referendum. It is then that Nigerians will decide for whoever is on the seat whether we want the parliamentary system or presidential system. Sadly, we missed that opportunity. Some people just woke up and foisted the presidential brand on us. There was no referendum to decide that.
In parliamentary system, Chief Awolowo became a member of the parliament as an Ikenne honourable in the Western Region. He got to the parliament from Ikenne and became a Leader/Premier. Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola contested from Ogbomosho, he became a member of the House of Representatives and became the opposition Leader. My grandfather, Chief Dauda Adegbenro contested from Ifo in the current Ogun State, he got to the parliament and became a minister. Awolowo appointed him parliamentary Secretary and then Minister of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs. These were the people voted for at the grassroots and they knew their people’s needs. If any of them was not doing well, others would accuse him and remove him because they were all the same in the chamber.
But here now, we have the executives doing whatever they like. We also have legislators who screen ministers before appointment and then after appointment, the ministers become their landlords that could not be controlled any more.
As a matter of fact, considering our governance challenge today in this country, I believe that parliamentary system is the sole solution to all our problems.