Coordinator, Afenifere Renewal Group, ARG, United States of America, USA chapter, Taiwo Oladotun Ogunleye, in this interview with Political Platform, bares his mind on the current state of the nation and other issues.
What is your view on the current state of the nation?
The only thing that I can say about the state of the nation is that Nigeria is going through a situation which we, as a nation, cannot cope with. What I mean is that I foresee a situation where this country may not hold together in the next few years because when you look at Nigeria, from the beginning, the issue that has been bothering the nation has not been resolved and that is the issue of national question which is whether we can live together as one.
This issue is very important for a nation like Nigeria and if we fail on our own to find a way out of this present situation, there is no way that we are going to be together as a nation.
That comes with the security issue. What is happening today is not politically motivated. It is about our foundation as a nation, it is about the different ethnic groups that came together without any tangible basis to be together.
Our coming together needs to be discussed, our coming together has to be ironed out from the South, West, East and the North. Are we ready to live together as one at all? With all pointers from all aspects of our lives, I don’t think we are ready to live together as a nation.
About 10 to 12 years ago when the military was in power, we were saying that Nigeria will be great. When Obasanjo came in, we were saying Nigeria will move forward. Today we are sitting on a keg of gun powder because I will tell you that Nigeria is going to break up except with God’s intervention. But God will not come down, it is the people that will solve their problems.
But are we ready to tackle this issue of national question? Are we ready to live together as a nation? What binds us together? Nothing. The issue of insecurity in the north is gradually coming to south but we in the south particularly the southwest which I represent, I believe we must unite and should not sleep.
We, Yoruba, have Muslim, Christian and traditional families and we have been living together without qualms. We manage ourselves very well that we don’t have problems about religion.
The issue of Boko Haram calls for our leaders at all levels to come together and discuss how to move the country forward. It is then that we will know if we can still remain as a nation.
Before now, there was nothing like Boko Haram. Don’t you think the issue is politically motivated by some elements who are not at home with a Jonathan presidency?
Well, it is part of the whole problems whether it is politically motivated or not. I’m not a politician but I want to tell you that when there is poverty in a nation, when there is unemployment and when the leaders are corrupt, what you should expect is what we are having now?
The issue of Boko Haram, I don’t want to see it as a Northern issue. It has to do with the level of corruption in the Nigeria system. If Boko Haram is alive today politically, something led to it. It was because our leaders have failed the young people.
If everything is working, I don’t think Boko Haram will come into play. The issue as far as I know is because of corruption, bad leadership and our lack of security.
There have been more knocks for Mr. President that he is too timid and not fit to rule the country. Do you agree with this notion?
Yes, I want to believe this. First of all, leaders are born but Jonathan is not a leader because he lacks personal development and if you do not have personal development, you cannot lead a country like Nigeria.
It is one thing to be knowledgeable in a way and it is another thing to have personal development. When people come to you to say something, you should be able to make some certain decisions on your own without the people telling you what you should to do. But in President Jonathan’s case, he is a poor leader. That is my conclusion of him. Jonathan is a failed leader.
In view of what you have said, can you give a brief assessment of his administration?
Most of the decisions he has taken so far do not appear to have come from somebody who has a clear thought of what he should do when problems arise. For example, look at the fuel saga of January this year, his address as President of the nation was to inflict pains on them when they should be enjoying another year.
Another issue is the change of the name of University of Lagos, UNILAG, to Moshood Abiola University, MAULAG. How can a president first take a decision before going to the National Assembly. I would have expected him to say that the Federal Government is considering renaming Unilag and not coming out to say autocratically that Unilag has been changed to Maulag.
So, how can he make such fundamental changes without thinking about the implication of what he’s doing. Doesn’t he seek people’s opinion? Politically, he may want to use it to woo the Southwest ahead of 2015 but that is not the way to go about it. All these show that he lacks ability to take some vital decisions for this country. .
His action is also a failure on the part of our academia if Jonathan who happens to be a lecturer, a doctor and now the President cannot comprehend or manage to some extent, a nation like Nigeria. That is an indictment on our academic system.
Past administrations have never deemed it fit to recognise Chief MKO Abiola as a national hero and this is what President Jonathan tried to do but people saw it as a plot to woo the Southwest. What is your take on this?
Yes, I agree with that notion that Jonathan is using MKO as a bait to woo the Southwest and that is why if you want to do something without good intention, it won’t work. The intention behind the changing of the from Unilag to Maulag from the outset has political motive and that is why students of the institution and Nigerians rejected the idea in its totality.
For me, Jonathan is playing politics with the name of Abiola. As you said, overtime, we have been shouting that MKO be immortalised. If Mr President knew quite well that he wanted to honour Abiola, there is an act passed by the National Assembly that the National Stadium, Abuja be named after him which Obasanjo refused to sign. Where is that act today? Why can’t Mr President go back to that act instead of starting afresh?
Is it not continuity of government? Is it not the same PDP government? What stops him from starting from where Obasanjo stopped? He should go ahead and sign that act instead of renaming unilag after him. The idea is political and that is why it won’t work.
Sentiment apart, don’t you think he deserves some kudos for trying to honour the political martyr?
There is nothing like kudos when you are doing something and you fail along the line. If you want to do something, do it properly. There is no excuse for failure. If you want to do it, plan it very well, start very well and execute it very well and that is why you are a government and not an individual.
So if you say kudos, I don’t know the kind of kudos to give to somebody who failed to implement or do what is right.
How do you think we can get out of the mess that we have found ourselves in this country?
The only way we can get out of this situation is for every stakeholder in the Nigeria project to come to a roundtable and have a sovereign national conference were the issue of ethnicity, marginalisation, minority and living together as a nation will be discussed. It should not be by force, it should be by will that I want to be part of the entity called Nigeria.
It is then that we will decide the way forward for Nigeria.