By Omoniyi Salaudeen
Senator Anthony Adeniyi is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State.
In this interview, he examined the performance of the Muhammadu Buhari administration in the last six years vis-à-vis the current socio-economic challenges, blaming the festering insecurity in the country on over politicization.
Security situation in the country is fast deteriorating. What do you think is responsible for the challenge the country is facing, bearing in mind that security is one of the cardinal agenda of the Buhari administration?
I won’t condemn Buhari in respect of the security situation in the country. Yes, as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, the bulk stops on his table and definitely, he will be held responsible for whatever has happened. So, he needs to buckle up because he has been keeping quiet on quite a good number of things. He has to change his style. Look at the EndSARS protest, when he should have come out to say ‘gentlemen, let’s end this thing,’ he didn’t. He allowed it to fester and consumed a good number of innocent citizens. Several police stations, including the one in my home town, were attacked. But beyond that, I think security is the responsibility of everybody, including the governors who earn fantastic amount as security vote. We can’t blame everything on Buhari alone. It is unfortunate that we have politicized it unnecessarily.
Everybody keeps talking about politicization of security. Are you not worried that everybody may be consumed in the process with the way things are going?
Yes, I agree. I like travelling by road. But now, anytime I am travelling on the road, my heart is always in my mouth. Today, every parent is always afraid that one day the kidnappers may go to schools to overrun them and kidnap the children. Look at what is happening in the eastern part of the country, where police stations and security checkpoints are being attacked. Things no longer augur well. It will consume us if we are not careful. I think the president must do something.
The Federal Government has indicated readiness to seek foreign intervention. What specific role do you expect the foreigners to play in the current scenario where every part of the country is already under siege?They will share security information with the police and other security forces. It is not that those people will be moving round, they will only give information to security forces who would take necessary action to nip the activities of terrorists and bandits in the bud.
Other than security, would you say that the All Progressives Congress (APC) has met its campaign promises for socio-economic wellbeing of Nigerians?
Honestly speaking, I think we have tried. Even Okonjo-Iweala in one of her releases said it would take a long time to right the wrongs of the past and our recklessness. I am not saying they have done 100 per cent, but you know there must be basis. Is it the PDP that plundered our economy and closed their eyes when this insecurity festered that will come to right the wrongs? I think APC still has a chance of going further because the president would have done quite a good number of things before he leaves office.
Permit me to say that APC supporters will be living in delusion, if they still think that Nigerians will take excuse for none performance after six years in office. Do you think it will be proper to continue to blame the current situation on the misrule of the past?
I agree with you. But if you look at infrastructure, APC has performed wonderfully well. Look at the Second Niger Bridge, the railway, roads and quite a good number of other things like improvement in electricity supply. For the security situation, it is sociological because nobody can predict what human beings will do. And it is not Nigeria alone that is undergoing security challenge. It is all over the world.
Infrastructure is meant to improve economic activities. But you cannot deny the fact that the economy of Nigeria is in its worst state with persistent rise in inflation figure?
The issue of inflation is a function of economic dynamics.
If everything is left to economic dynamics, you can as well say that Nigeria is running on auto piloting. Is that what you meant?
It is the forces of supply and demand that determine the rate of inflation. You can’t blame the economic situation on Buhari alone. We were in depression at a time, we came out of it. He has assembled the best brains as his economic team. We have to look at the cause not the effect. We have to bring discipline into our lives. We destroy ourselves. When they closed the borders, people were complaining. We prefer to develop other countries’ economy at the expense of our own by patronizing foreign goods. Yet, we will be complaining of no jobs. Who will create the job? Some people will make Ankara here in Nigeria, take it to Ghana and bring it back as Ghanaian Ankara and people will rush it.
The unity of Nigeria is a major concern of everybody now. In fact, the fear now is whether the country can survive till 2023. Who would you hold accountable for the existential threat facing the nation?
Why will Nigeria not survive? My people in the Southwest are saying Oduduwa nation and I say where do you start? Do you think it comes like that? Nobody is ready to stick his head into another civil war. Nigeria’s unity is not hopeless. If you have travelled through the length and breadth of Nigeria, you will see that unity is a delight. When the North said they were not bringing tomatoes to the South, somebody said he was reconciling. Nobody reconciled anything, it was because they could not sell what they produced that they started coming. You know how many cows that are being slaughtered in Lagos every day? Yes, it is legitimate to agitate. But I don’t think it is good for us.
But something is responsible for fueling the rising agitations for self-determination? Isn’t it?
Nobody is responsible. It is not today that people have been agitating and there will always be agitations. The South-south had been agitating for control of oil resource. During the time of the late Umar Yar’Adua, the government paid them derivation. What I am saying is that there will always be agitations because it is human to agitate. Where did banditry start? It started both in the East and Southwest. Don’t forget, Evan is still in custody. But people will tell you it is Fulani. Sometimes ago, some people were killed in Ekiti State. When the kidnappers were caught, three of them were found to be from Kogi State. People try to Fulanise everything to blame Buhari. He has his own problem, no doubt about it. But all these things they are attributing to Fulani, they are not the ones responsible. I agree with you, Buhari should have proscribed the killer Fulani like he did to the IPOB, but he kept quiet. He ought not to have kept quiet like that. But that does not mean he is the cause of it. Almost everywhere in Africa, you have the rampaging ISWA group killing people all over the place. Who went to attack Prof Charles Soludo in his own place? Who went to attack Hope Uzodimma’s place? At least, they have been caught. Are they Fulani? Don’t let us ethnicise crime. In Ekiti, one of my friend’s uncles was kidnapped along Efon Alaye road. When they were caught after they had taken their ransom, it was found that two of them were from Edo State, three from Kogi. Are those people Fulani? Don’t let’s give dog a bad name in order to hang it. Buhari has his own problems, but he is not the one sponsoring the Fulani.
It takes a good and purposeful leadership to unify a country as diverse as Nigeria. Isn’t it?
Who is a good leader? Olusegun Obasanjo was there, Umar Yar’Adua was there, Goodluck Jonathan was there. Who is the good leader? Obasanjo went and levelled Oddi in Rivers State. People are always agitating. If MKO Abiola had become president, people would have still agitated. Agitation is in the blood of human beings.
When a country enjoys political stability, it attracts foreign investors. Today, Nigeria’s economy is bleeding because of instability. What do you think the government can do to restore the confidence of foreign investors?
The best way to do things is to put your house and my house in order. No country in international relations is ready to develop the other. It is you that will make sure you produce certain things that will attract the others to come. Yes, insecurity may scare away investors. But investors are always ready to invest. Look at MTN when they came, they knew we had the market and they made their trillions from their investment.
What is Ghana producing that is making investors to run away from Nigeria to settle in Ghana?
Ghana is producing cocoa.
Nigeria also produces cocoa.
No, we are not producing. We have run away from the farm. What we are doing now is 419.
Is it cocoa that Nigeria is not producing that forced Dunlop, Volkswagen plant, Michelin to leave Nigeria to settle in Ghana?
When Dunlop moved away from Nigeria, we were producing rubber and still producing in Edo, Ondo and some parts of Ogun. It was lack of electricity that drove them away not Buhari. Is electricity not improving now? Let’s look at the cause and not the effect. If electricity is good, people will still come because the raw material is still there. Dunlop and Michelin left Nigeria when it became most expedient. Up till now, things are not cheaper in Ghana. There was Peugeot automobile plant in Kaduna before. Without infrastructure, we cannot sustain those things. And that is why APC is prioritizing infrastructure. Infrastructure will stimulate and invite investors to come and invest.