•Otunba KOLE OMOLOLU, National Organising Secretary AFENIFERE
Otunba Kole Omololu, is the Organising Secretary of Afenifere, the pan socio-political and cultural Yoruba group. Right now he is very very angry with Pres. Buhari and the APC. He is very angry at the way Nigeria is being run, politically, by Pres. Muhammadu Buhari . He believes Nigeria is badly run. Omololu, who is the Otunba Tunluse of Osooro Ikale in Ondo State asserted that the Yorubas of which he is one, have been badly treated and he is one of those who would want the APC to be voted out. His group, the Afenifere, has come out to endorse the candidacy of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who is supporting Restructuring, which the Afenifere is also supporting. A few weeks back, Abagun Kole Omololu (who also uses the family title of Abagun) spoke with City People Publisher. SEYE KEHINDE about the state of the nation among other issues.
We are just a few months to the 2019 general elections. How do you see the state of the nation?
I am not happy. The vision is blurred. We are not where we are supposed to be. We are actually retrogressing. I have an advantage of knowing Nigeria and at the same time. I have had the advantage of living abroad in the UK. Most of my youth days after my teenage years, were spent abroad. I left between age 22 and 23 and since then I did not return to Nigeria until I was in my 50s. So, I can conveniently say, that I can compare both worlds. What we need is to be determined, to be great. When a nation determines to be great, it can be great. They call the United Kingdom, Great Britain, it was because of determination. Nigeria is supposed to be the giant of Africa. That was the basis that Nigeria was negotiated to recognise our differences, recognise who we are, let the nationalities grow together. But all of a sudden things fell apart and nothing is working. Nigeria is like a patched work entrenched, so many colours joined together. That is what is called colour riot. Some people have high hopes that Nigeria would lead the black world. They believe we are supposed to be operating in the medieval ages. And they are becoming entrenched in this their notion. That is what is happening to Nigeria at the moment.
We are going into elections soon and as you can see that some people are hellbent on being in power. They don’t give a damn. They will use all the apparatus of government money and power to muzzle other people and suppress the vast majority. All we see right now enveloping Nigeria is darkness upon darkness, I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am very, very afraid for Nigeria.
In 2015, how did you see APC’s victory at the polls and the coming in of Pres. Muhammadu Buhari? Has there been fundamental changes in the polity since then?
I am a member of the Afenifere, the Yoruba socio-cultural group. I am the National Organising Secretary. At that time, we told fellow Nigerians and we told the children of Oduduwa that Gen. Mohammadu Buhari did not represent the change they were looking forward to. We were better off staying where we are, suffer another 4 years, because the alternative is worse. This is the result of the last 3 and half years we all could see it. So, since 2015, things had gone so bad. Unemployment has sky rocketed, corruption has doubled. Bloodshed everyday, the Economy has crumbled. People are disillushioned. Their is Hunger in the land, name it. There are so many negatives things enveloping us. I don’t know why we are like this. Poverty has taken over. This government is not helping anybody at all. I am very concerned about our nation. Nothing is working. No network. No light. No rail. It is just by the grace of God that we fly and there is no mishap. Look at the phenomenal development witnessed by Dubai in terms of their airport over the last 15 years. Here we are retrogressing. Our airports don’t have serviceable lifts. The whole place is smelling. No air-conditioner. Yet, we cannot be said to be poor. So, since 2015 it has been a complete disaster. I am not saying this just because I am talking politics. I am not even a politician I am just an activist. This is my report about my beloved country Nigeria.
What is the way forward? What are you advocating that we do?
My prayer is for those in power not to plunge Nigeria into crisis. They should allow people to vote their conscience. People are hungry. That’s the truth. People are unemployed. People who have nothing to eat, would they vote from for a lying government? No. We need a change. We have to change this government by voting them out next year. It is apparent. If not, a lot of people will run out of this country. A lot of youth will still besiege Libya to go and join the boat through the Mediterranean sea to go and seek asylum. When you push people to the wall, they react. So, I just believe we should change this APC government. Let us try another government for another 4 years. If the new one does not do what we want we would change it too. That is the beauty of democracy. You can see people spending so much money to be in office. They see poltics as commerce. That is not sustainable. They are not going there to effect any change, to help the situation. They are going there to help their pockets because the structures are so bad that they can’t help us to grow.
The government has weakened the institutions . I don’t think the set of people ruling us now mean well for Nigeria. This is my submission. They should be voted us. Let them go and regroup for another 4 years and leave us alone in 2019. Let another group take over and we would see. We have become so enlightened. The social media have helped us to know what to do. We know what they did in Osun and Ekiti, robbing people of their franchise. They are not helping the nation. They are disgracing Nigeria, hope of the black world, the most populous black nation on earth. African-Americans are looking up to Nigeria as their home. A lot of African countries are looking up to Nigeria as their home. Because of this, we need a leader who would be selfless, and leave a good name. So, talking about 2019, I am not going to mince words, I am not going to say No, I won’t speak my mind. I am not going to play politics. Noo. This APC government must leave. Its a party that was created with no ideology. They built up so much hatred against the previous government. So they got there and they didn’t know what to do. Has corruption stopped? No. Corruption is still there. I don’t know who is more corrupt between the PDP and the APC. That is a big debate topic because the APC is not made up of saints.
A lot of people were surprised a few months back when the Afenifere came out to openly support Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s candidacy. Why did Afenifere throw its weight behind Atiku?
Seye, what’s the surprise? Why were they surprised? Afenifere stands for principles. People should not be surprised. What we have been agitating for and how we negotiated the Nigerian federation was through TRUE FEDERALISM. And in 1966, the Army came and truncated that idea. That is why Nigeria has not been working. Now, we want to go back to true federalism. It might not be true federalism, the way it was pree-1966, but let us rearrange things so that states, local governments, the regions, can have sufficient power and autonomy to do so many things they love to do. Don’t allow Abuja to be interfering in things like road network, Agriculture, Education. So, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar believes in what we believe in. He said well, I think what Afenifere is saying is good for Nigeria and if I become President I will align myself to that thought. So, what do you expect us to do? The APC said Restructuring should be in the achives. They don’t believe in it. They are not going to restructure. The statusquo must remain. We are men of principle. If we are men of principle, whom do you think we should support?. We are not supporting Atiku Abubakar because it is Atiku Abubakar. It is because of the principle that Nigeria should be restructured. Maybe the word restructuring is to big grammar for a lot of people. Restructuring means rearrangement of things, make it simpler for it to work. Take the Nigeria Police, the way it used be, the local governments had their police. For effective crime control, allow policing to be very close to the locals. We need local Police that can burst crime effectively. Another example, allow us to run our educational system. All these things we are saying is not something new. I grew up in the UK. The UK has a nationality called The English people, the Welsh people, the Scottish people and the Northern Irish people-these are 4 distinctive groups.
Many of us don’t know this. Just because everybody speaks English, they will think, are they not all English? I went to the University of Wales. They have their langugage. If you see my certificate now, half is written in English, the other half is written in Welsh. They have their own Welsh Assembly. All the agricultural policies of Wales is done by the Welsh people. Go to Scotland. They have their own Central Bank which is different from the Bank of England. They have their currency, which is different from the one in London. The educational system that goes on in England is different from the one that is going on in Scotland. They have different kinds of institutions, that regulate education over there. So, things are decentralised.