Mr Yinka Odumakin is the National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, a Pan-Yoruba socio-political group. He was also a major player in the mobilisation of the massive protest known as Occupy Nigeria Protest, which kicked against the fuel subsidy removal by the former administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
In this interview, he talks about corruption in the country and why the group cannot stage another massive protest against the current administration and other issues.
How would you react to the complete closure of border by the Federal Government?
That policy was not well thought out. We could have increased surveillance of our borders with intense monitoring but to shut the border is clearly against ECOWAS protocol. Secondly, we didn’t think it through in terms of it’s effect on the economy. This has caused inflation on our economy, it has negative impact on our national economy.
To me, this looks like an apartheid arrangement because the borders in the North are partially closed. In fact, when it was demanded that our borders should be shut to stop Fulani Herdsmen from other countries from entering the country, the government said the ECOWAS protocol does not allow the closure of borders. It’s quite unfortunate.
Do you support Igbo presidency in 2023 considering that the South East is the only zone that has not occupied that position?
Clearly, I support that every section of Nigeria has the right to the highest office in the land. The Presidency should not be an exclusive preserve for certain sections of the country. Having said that, the North having had eight years now, the presidency must come to the Southern part of the country not to the North as some are saying that power should remain in the North. Power must shift from the North to the South. Some of us will not be bothered about where the person comes from if we are certain that it is a proper federal arrangement.
If we remember that in the First Republic, Tafawa Belewa was the president of Nigeria and during that time, the regions had all the powers and the center was more or less a community center but in the situation where we are today, we have where the president determines virtually everything he likes.
Today, we have the head of the executive, the head of the judiciary and the head of the National assembly all from the core North. We have also seen the pattern of the appointments and the exclusive use of that power of presidency. We cannot after eight years endure that again. Power should be rotational.
You said power should return to the South, can you be more explicit. Which part of the South?
When I said South, I mean the South East, South-South and South West. I mean South generally. It’s then left for the South to decide for the best foot to put out there. But the main point is that after eight years in the North, power must come back to the South.
What’s your take on Buhari’s anti corruption war and the new move by the EFCC over the seizure of properties belonging to Bukola Saraki?
I don’t support corruption in any form; if anybody infringes on the law of the country, the law should take it’s course. That you are fighting corruption does not have to look like you are carrying out persecution, vendetta or you are being selective. We cannot be seeing some people as corrupt and you are looking the other way. Corruption fight must be across board. The way the EFCC went about it, I didn’t like it and the media trial too. We should fight corruption in a holistic manner.
Talking about media trial, how would you react to the Social media bill before the Senate?
It’s the most cruel and indecent. We should be careful in introducing this kind of law, not to consider that we are in a democracy. The only arm that makes a difference between the civil rule and dictatorship is the parliament. For the parliament to now be the harbinger of guillotine the way our National assembly is going about the whole thing is shameful to our democracy. They want to take away our freedom of speech. All the Senators that have not spoken against this bill are all enemies of our society. This is a constitutional matter. I want Nigerians to resist the bill because it is very inconsiderate.
You recently said that the country has only two options, either to restructure or disintegrate. As an opinion leader, which of the options would you propose as a way forward?
Our first option is to restructure, that’s why we have been calling for restructuring of Nigeria to allow proper federalism, for every section of Nigeria to develop. This is because at the end of the day, our failure as a country is the most sacrosanct of the failures across the country.
A country like Nigeria with it’s clash of civilizations can never make any progress on the basis of centralization because we have different cultures and value system. Nigeria should be a salad bowel society. When you take a bowel of Salad, you see Lettuce, egg, tomatoes and a combination of other ingredients that give you salad. That’s what Nigeria should be. That Abuja must determine what happens in every section of Nigeria is a complete failure. Where is Czechoslovakia today? It has become history because of centralization. So yes, the options for Nigeria at this moment are either to restructure or to disintegrate. I am talking from history. From what we have seen globally, the Soviet Union was one of the mightiest empires of the world but it collapsed. Not to mention Nigeria with many fault lines and it’s been said that we are the poverty capital of the whole world. There is so much frustration across the country.
With the way things are going, do you foresee a revolution by the masses anytime soon?
If nothing is done now, we might even experience anarchy which is worse than revolution.