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2023: Antagonism to Yoruba presidency uncalled for – Olokoba

Razaq Olokoba is a public analyst, social commentator and human rights activist. In addition, he is the National President, Campaign for Dignity in Governance (CDG), a coalition of over 70 civil society organisations. In this interview with Lekan Ale, he warned those insinuating retention of power in the north after President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure in 2023 to bury the idea, saying such a position would throw spanner in the wheels of the country’s political, economic and social progress. Excerpts

WHAT impressed you about President Muhammadu Buhari’s first term in office?

His achievements changed the impression of the rest of the world about us. It is experience that has pulled Nigeria through in the last four years. If we want to be specific, if we look at our economy, before Buhari came on board, the major income for Nigeria was from oil, which was being rejected worldwide by every country doing business with oil. So, we were operating a comatose economy at that time. The country was getting into bigger trouble because funds were no longer available to run our life. Ninety percent of what we consumed was imported. And the currency used in importing those commodities was dollar and we don’t produce dollar here. It is the business that you do in the international market that earns you dollar that we used to buy all those commodities that we consumed. So the dollars were not coming in again. The trouble that would have come in that time was averted.

In the past, we never took agriculture serious in Nigeria. No country has 100 percent of what it consumes, agreed. You can have 70 percent of what you consume. But you must have additional 30 percent of what you consume from other international markets. But sadly and ironically, in Nigeria, we produce less than 5 percent of what we consume while we source for over 90 percent of what we consume from outside the county! But gradually under Buhari, we are producing more of what we consume now. We are heavy consumers of grains like rice. And today, we know the story about rice in Nigeria. Importation of rice has reduced drastically. We are also exporting yam now. And position of Nigeria in the exportation of cocoa is on the rise. Even raw materials that factories use in production are being made available in Nigeria. Factories are getting raw materials from agriculture. So, by and large, things are getting better for Nigeria economically.

What can you say about the security challenges across the country?

Well on security, you will agree with me that in every region in the country, there is what looks like a low scale war. If an Army General like Buhari is not at the helms of affairs in Nigeria, we would have been in a big mess. But because the General is at the helms of affairs, he understands perfectly the strategies and military tactics. Now, if Boko Haram rears their ugly heads today, their heads are cut off before they think of regrouping again. But it was not like that before when they had permanent flags in some parts of the country as their own republic.

Then, other challenges came in the east, in the west and kidnapping came as ingredients to all the crises we have on ground. And everything became diluted. But because of where Buhari is coming from as an Army General, he was able to locate specific strategies for each region.  Buhari is a God sent to Nigeria. So, with all my analyses, you will agree with me that God sent Buhari to us when we need him most. If he had come earlier than now, maybe we would be stoning him by now.

Then, what are your expectations in his second term?

Well, he is expected to sustain what he has started as I told you earlier. He will surpass his earlier achievements, especially with the friendly parliament on ground. The eighth Assembly members have given them away that if the National Assembly was expunged from the constitution, Nigeria would not have felt its absence. But take away the Judiciary; the nation would be in fiasco. Take away the executive for one week, we may not recover for ten years because it means you want to take away the Army, you want to take away the Police, you want to take away Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that manages the economy of the country for one week.

What we however expect from the citizenry is a level of corresponding support for the government. If a corresponding goodwill is given to this government, it would be better for all of us. I advise we avoid confusing and damaging criticism. We have to bury those destructive attitudes just as we would welcome constructive criticism followed by solutions.

Where do you stand on the 2023 presidency matter?

That is a very interesting topic and really, we have to be very careful about it. Insinuations are going round already that the presidency would still remain in the north in 2023. And I say, the insinuation is a very dangerous one. Well, I know the insinuation that power would remain in the north by 2023 is a minority opinion. And the caution I want to throw is that about 26 years ago, when June 12 presidential election won by MKO Abiola was annulled, the country was healthy and working fine. The country could absorb all kinds of political shock as at that time.

In spite of that, the June 12 scenario shook the entire nation to its very foundation! The entire world stood still and paid serious attention to what was happening in Nigeria. And no patriotic Nigerian would want us to pass through that kind of agony again in our life as a nation. For those saying that power should remain in the north in 2023, maybe they think they have the numerical strength, it is a primitive demand and nobody think along that line again nowadays!

No matter the number of a people in a nation, you should consider them as a factor that if they cannot make, they can mar. You cannot deny them of both abilities to either make or mar. If they cannot control the process, they can destroy the process! If they cannot add value to the process, they can reduce value from the process. And that is the angle we must look at. The north, I mean the Hausa Fulani, was on the list of the most trusted ethnic groups in this country. But, that impression became battered by the roles they played during the June 12 annulment and that is the impression Buhari is trying to correct now. He wants to create a new impression of who a true northerner is. He wants to create a new impression that a northerner is someone who is patriotic, someone who is not self-centred, someone who wants Nigeria to move forward and someone who wants the best for Nigeria. He wants to create a new impression that a northerner is someone who wants to build Nigeria to be respected in the comity of nation, someone who wants Nigeria’s economy to be among the best ten economies in the world. That is what Buhari is trying to do.

You mentioned earlier that there is a plot for power to remain in the north.

Yes. And the insinuation that power should not leave the north is not only unacceptable to the southerners; it must be classified as one of the primitive demands of the recent time. So, whoever that has that kind of notion, even for tactical or strategic reasons, should know it is a dangerous kite to fly. It is a dangerous position to push. It would not earn Nigeria any good. And that idea should be dropped.

The most qualified ethnic group, the most qualified region to produce the next President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023 is the Yoruba people. Nations in the world today pass the most peaceful terrain now; nations in the world now had understood the danger of taking their people to pass through a difficult terrain in the past. So, the easiest terrain, the most peaceful terrain, the most workable terrain and the most acceptable terrain in 2023 is to allow a Yoruba man to become the President. The demands are so little and understandably, majority of northerners would accept the proposal that a Yoruba man should come on board.

In the south, there is no sane Yoruba man that would say that his kinsman should not become the president. I am yet to see such a man’s position to justify that. For our Ijaw brothers, it is natural for them to say that for the principle of fairness, we should allow other ethnic groups to preside over the affairs of the country. Ditto for our Igbo brothers because they know their fate is secured under a Yoruba President. So, what I am saying essentially is that Yoruba have the capacity to sustain what Buhari is doing at the moment. We have the capacity to cement the relationship between every single ethnic group in Nigeria. If you look at the way we are relating with Buhari, it was the same way we have given support to Ijaw Presidency. And you will remember very well that we are also constant in support of the Igbo in their pains and aspirations.

Source: https://thenationonlineng.net/2023-antagonism-to-yoruba-presidency-uncalled-for-olokoba/

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