No party can stand against APC in 2019
Former Osun State Governor, Chief Bisi Akande, has condemned the growing rate of corruption in the country, insisting that it is a difficult battle that President Muhammadu Buhari would not be able to win in the four years of his administration.
The former protem Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) also berated the stupendous earnings by the Nigerian lawmakers who, he said, are presiding over a majority of the world’s poorest people.
In this interview with CLEMENT ADEYI in OSOGBO, the APC stalwart also spoke on other national issues.
Is it not a serious paradox that people in leadership positions are stupendously rich but are presiding over a majority of the world’s poorest people?
Yes. Nigeria’s lawmakers who are not necessarily the brightest nor the best are being reported to be among the best paid, if not the highest paid in the world. A lawmaker’s average annual salary is said to be $118,000 which is equivalent to 63 times the country’s per capita income in 2013. So, we have the world’s highest paid lawmakers to preside over a majority of the world’s poorest people. The paradox, therefore, is that as our country gets richer, only a few people benefit from the increasing national wealth, while majority continue to suffer from poverty, penury and deprivation.
Don’t you think this would soon begin to affect aspiration and passion for true and gainful education since proper education is seemingly no longer the yardstick for employment opportunities and promotion?
That is why those who are currently aspiring to be truly and gainfully educated are becoming fewer and are gradually being singled out, despised and persecuted like endangered species among the cants and the mediocre. Some of our good children are awarded merits at home and abroad. Yet, they are being spited, degraded and ostracized by their peers who are brought up and protected by the culture of automatic promotions, tribal nepotism and cult gangsterism. There was a notable educationist that lived in Iwo in Osun State. His name is the late Benjamin Adisa Akinola. He was honoured recently by The Wings Schools, one of the biggest group of schools in Iwo land. He was given Distinguished Role Model award because he distinguished himself by striving to earn a gainful education which later helped him to add value to the youths of his generation when he emerged the first headmaster of a public school in Iwo land in those days. He left his footprints in the sand of time in the educational development of the state.
But these days, everybody scrambles for mercenary education where both the teachers and the pupils believe in selfishly seeking money without work. We have teachers who work without retraining and swindle the pupils in a culture of cheating and examination malpractices at which the unwary parents jubilate. A mercenary education is an education for mere certificate which produces unemployable graduates that Nigerians euphemistically call graduate unemployment. Most of the graduates of nowadays are amply certificated but are truly unemployable.
What is your assessment of the APC in relation to its performance under Buhari’s administration?
My ideas will always be in conformity with the policies and ideas that are contained in the manifestoes and the constitution of the country. I have high regard for the party because it is a great party. But it doesn’t mean that everything that the party says or wants is possible to be accomplished by the government in power at a go. But it is important that those in power must not forget that they are there on behalf of the common people.
Why do you think that the 1999 constitution is responsible for the problems of this country?
There are many pitfalls in the constitution. There are many aspects in this constitution that are never working. The constitution we need is a constitution that will take the Nigerian people out of poverty. The constitution we need is a constitution that can move Nigeria forward; a constitution that can return the country to the path of greatness. A constitution that can move Nigeria forward is the one that can recognise the culture of the people in relation to their occupation. The background of the economic life of every community is such that recongises its culture and which must be respected by the constitution for it to survive. But when you concentrate all powers in Abuja, and you expect it to supervise all works in Nigeria, the country can never move forward. For instance, Osun State is not connected to any other place in Nigeria. Go towards Kwara, no road. Go towards Ogun, no road. Go towards Ekiti, no road. Go towards Lagos no road. The one they are doing in Lagos has no proper management. Until power is divulged from the centre and broken into the federating units, the country can never move forward.
The Federal Government told us recently that the country would move out of the current recession in a matter of weeks. But up till now, we are in the net, with poverty and hardship still the order of the day. What is your take on this?
Economic recession is a very technical subject. I am not an economist. When you talk about recession, it is multidimensional. When those in authorities say so, they know what they are talking about. They know things that I don’t know. So, I don’t know when we will come out of the recession.
Do you think Buhari is equal to the task in fighting and overcoming the corruption war?
Corruption became endemic in Nigeria because the military introduced it. When they captured the country for 39 years, the only legacy they left behind was corruption. So, to come out of corruption, we have to wait and must work towards it. We must start from the grassroots. For instance, there are people who think they must bribe somebody before they or their children can pass exams. Until we do away with corruption from the grassroots, we can’t remove it from the top.
What is your assessment of Buhari’s fight against corruption?
It is a difficult job. He is not the one who put it upon himself. It was my party (APC) that said, if you win the election, we must confront corruption. Corruption kills. Corruption is a wicked and mindless platform put in place to destroy people. Buhari is about the only president that has the charisma to solve Nigeria’s problems. That is why we need to pray for him to be healthy and return to the country safely. No one can win total war against corruption. If corruption has been with us for 39 years, you don’t expect any president to win total war against it within four years. Four years are not enough.
If Buhari is not able to win total war against corruption, take Nigeria out of corruption and solve other socio-political, religious and economic problems, do you think APC can come back in 2019?
There is no other party that will win. We (APC) are the only party on ground in this country. PDP is in trouble.
Do you think the rumour making the rounds that some soldiers are hobnobbing with some Nigerian politicians to stage a coup is true?
I think the military are liars. If it is true, the soldiers that are allegedly holding meetings with politicians to stage a coup ought to have been arrested and handed over to the police. Maybe, they are the ones planning to stage a coup. But I don’t believe it.