Former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Shuaibu Oyedokun has declared that Nigeria is gradually sliding into a one party state. Oyedokun who is currently member, PDP Board of Trustees in this interview with TUNDE THOMAS noted that the hullabaloo over the Southwest security network, Operation Amotekun is uncalled for because the initiative is an idea that has come to stay. He also spoke on other national issues:
What’s your position on the opposition to Operation Amotekun, the new security outfit recently launched by South-West governors by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, and the Miyetti-Allah organisation?
I don’t see any justification for their position more so when legal luminaries, and other critical stakeholders have spoken in support of the outfit. Even Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka has spoken in support. I don’t see any reason why Miyetti-Allah and Malami have to oppose the outfit. Definitely their opposition to the outfit will fail. Operation Amotekun has to do with internal security in the South-West, so I don’t see any reason why Miyetti Allah should feel threatened. My advice to Miyetti Allah leadership is that they should stop making provocative statements capable of setting the nation on fire over the issue.
Instead of making provocative statements capable of overheating the polity over the issue, Miyetti Allah is advised to seek dialogue. As an organisation , Miyetti Allah members are traders ,so I don’t see any reason why they should be making volatile statements or seem to be dabbling into politics. For Malami, the Attorney General of the Federation, I don’t see why he should be opposed to the security outfit. If he has any observation he should have discussed such with the South-West governors, and the State Attorney Generals instead of turning it into a controversial national issue.
Malami, and Miyetti Allah’s opposition is clearly against the wish of the South-West people. The people of the South-West clamoured for Operation Amotekun, and they now have it, and I believe it has come to stay. Both Miyetti-Allah, and Malami should not be allowed to hold South-West governors to ransom over the issue. The South-West governors should not succumb to any blackmail or threat over Operation Amotekun. However, the new security outfit must be given necessary legal backing to enable it operate effectively.
How would you react to the Supreme Court’s judgement that sacked Emeka Ihedioha of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and declared Chief Hope Uzodinma of All Progressives Congress, APC as the governor of Imo state?
PDP has already spoken against it, and I stand by PDP’s position. However my fear for Nigeria now is that the country may become a one party state. President Muhammadu Buhari, and APC are gradually turning Nigeria into a dictatorship, and if we are not careful things will get worse. If the present trend continues, Nigeria may metamorphose into a full-blown dictatorship. One can clearly see the handwriting on the wall. There is a kind of hidden agenda now being gradually implemented by APC. They started the implementation of the hidden agenda with the last November governorship elections in Kogi, and Bayelsa states.
How, and in what way?
What happened in Kogi state was never an election but a charade, a caricature. It was a scam, an aberration. It is the same thing with that of Bayelsa. The election in those two states had turned us into a laughing stock before the international community, and this is why some people called for the removal of the INEC Chairman, Prof. Yakubu Muhammed. But sacking him will not solve the problem because if they remove him they will still put another lackey there. Anybody they put there as INEC Chairman can’t be his own man. He has to be his master’s voice. The person will be timid, and this is why Nigerians should not expect any extra-ordinary performance from the current INEC Chairman. With what happened in Kogi, Bayelsa, and now Imo state, Nigeria’s democracy needs prayers. The only way to prevent Nigeria from sliding into full dictatorship is for men of honour not to keep quiet but to rise up to the challenge. We need to save the nation’s democracy from imminent danger by those who are desperate to have their way by all means. On our part as a party, former PDP members that have defected to APC are being lobbied to return back to the party’s fold.
It was life more abundant for Nigerians under 16 years of PDP leadership .In fact some former PDP members that defected to APC are now regretting their actions with some of them even apologizing to the party. APC is just an amalgamation of strange bedfellows. Contrary to what some people are saying, PDP is not comatose, the party will surely bounce back stronger, and thank God Nigerians now realize that there is a big difference between PDP, and APC.
What’s your reaction to the calls for the scrapping of zoning in 2023 by some groups and individuals in the Northern part of the country?
Zoning has its advantages and disadvantages. However, my own personal opinion is that with the present situation in the country, this type of thinking is naïve. It is now becoming a problem for this country when some people believe that it is only when a governor or President comes from their zone that it will benefit them. Everything now appears to be in a flux as to where power should go in 2023 and this should not be so. Ideally, merit should be the first consideration when talking or discussing about where the President comes from but because of our peculiar nature as a nation we can’t do that 100% for now. Other factors have to be considered. But we have to tread carefully on the issue.
To some people, eight years of former President Olusegun Obasanjo didn’t bring any benefit to the South-West but that it benefitted the North, and other parts of the country more but to me whatever Obasanjo achieved was across board. The South-West didn’t enjoy any peculiar benefit when Obasanjo was in power. Like now, some people believe that the North is benefitting more under Buhari in terms of political appointments. Personally, I don’t believe in this kind of thinking. I believe in one Nigeria. I believe in whatever will unite us as a nation.
I don’t believe that zoning should be scrapped for now until gradually when it comes to a time where only merit will determine whomever we elect as President. Scrapping of zoning has to be gradual, based on dialogue, consultation, and objectivity.
The long closure of the nation’s borders has continued to generate mixed reactions, what’s your own personal opinion on the issue?
The closure has been a blessing in a way. With the closure, more Nigerians are now showing interest in rice farming. Even in my own village here in Osun state, people are now forming co-operative societies in order to boost rice farming. Nigerians are now looking more inwards. The border area of Osun state where I come from used to be very porous but now things have changed with the closure, even on this alone it is a positive development.
However, on the other side, some other issues have to be considered and this include determining whether the closure has led to a drop in our revenue generation or not. When the borders were not closed, some people were taking advantage to commit economic crimes, even now that borders have remained closed some people are still taking advantage. But the most important question is this, which one pays the nation more, closure or opening of the borders, and whatever conclusion we arrive at should be the one that will be in the best interests of the nation. Another thing we must not overlook is the effect of the border closure on our foreign policy. No nation can be an island on its own, therefore, we also have to take into consideration the interests of our neighbours but such must be done without compromising Nigeria’s interests. Nigeria’s interests must come first.
What do you say about the controversial hate speech bill?
One thing I like about Nigerians is that you can’t gag them. Whatever Nigerians like to talk about, they will talk about it. However, I believe that it will be a great disservice to the nation if the National Assembly passes the hate speech bill. But I strongly believe that all this noise and controversy about hate speech bill has fizzled out more so since majority of Nigerians are against it. It is only those who support dictatorship that will support hate speech bill. What I want those in authority today to remember is this, when you are in power and you make oppressive rules, you will only enjoy it for a while but when you eventually vacates office you may end up becoming a victim of those oppressive rules yourself. As the saying goes, what goes round comes round.
What’s your take on the proposed $29 billion loan by the Federal Government?
There is a popular saying that a king that uses marble to paint the house, people will talk about it, and the same people will also talk about a king that breaks the marble when he ascends the throne. In recent Nigerian history, there was a government that cancelled all Nigerian debts, and people have continued to talk about it.
My own take on the issue is that if the proposed loan will add value to our economy, then the Federal Government should take it but if it will not add value but become a burden, then the loan should not be taken. The issue should be well considered. If the ultimate goal is for the loan to benefit Nigeria, then the loan should be taken. If it is something that will make life more abundant for Nigerians then they can go ahead with the loan but they should not rush into it. They should weigh all the options.
However, it is very unfortunate that we now have a National Assembly that doesn’t have a voice of its own. What we have now is a rubber stamp National Assembly; very much unlike during Saraki’s time when the National Assembly always put the executive on its toes. The present Senate leadership has become very docile.
How do you react to the recent release of Omoyele Sowore, and Col. Sambo Dasuki by the Federal Government?
Thank God that reason eventually prevailed, otherwise the detention of the two men in defiance of several court orders has put a serious dent on the image of the federal government. I’m seriously against unjust incarceration of people or disobedience to court orders. Although Sowore has been released but I believe that he reaped what he sowed. He was one of the principal agents that worked against PDP, and former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
When Sowore started the trouble for Jonathan’s administration, the former President didn’t touch him but Buhari unlike Jonathan decided to move against him. Sowore thought that life would be better for him with APC in power but he miscalculated. Sowore rode on the back of a tiger and eventually ended in its belly. I hope he has learnt his lesson.