‘Devolving power will divide homogeneous tribes in Nigeria’

Otunba Gani Adams


Amidst growing agitations for declaration of self-government amongst some ethnic groups in the country, the National Coordinator of Oodua People’s Congress; Otunba Gani Adams believes that the best option to nip discordant tune in the bud for self-actualization is for the nation to revert to regionalism in the interest of justice, equity and total development of the country. In this interview with Kehinde Olatunji, the OPC chieftain posited that government owned security agencies must collaborate with other non-government bodies to rid the nation of crime.
Excerpt:

With various agitations from different groups in the country, which could heighten tension and crisis, what do you have to say concerning this?
I’m not in support of any of such agitations or declaration. You can’t just say that the Igbos should leave your state; at least the IPOB struggle is non-violent. They are entitled to their own opinion. What I think necessitated the Arewa youths declaration was the stay at home that was declared by IPOB in May. The fact that it succeeded made them send the quit notice. They were angered by the IPOB agitation to have their own nation. But that is uncalled for in any society, the world is a global village. When a particular tribe or a group says they are not interested in being a part of a nation, you can’t force them; it is called a nation; an agreement of different tribes to come together.

Even if a person decides that he or she has some land in certain areas, and doesn’t want to be part of a particular community anymore, he or she can migrate. Most of us in various communities are migrants. For instance, in Yoruba land migrated from Ile-Ife and even in the East, some of them migrated from Benin and Delta to other areas.

Although they have withdrawn their statement but it is a bad situation. It is an incident that any reasonable person should not encourage. Yerima Shekina is my friend but it is possible we don’t share the same position on certain matters.

Are you in support that Yoruba should have their own country?
Well, I’m not in support of that position for now. The position we are for now is restructuring. We just held a summit that is called Yoruba Summit. And our position still remains that we want the country to be restructured. Restructuring has different phases, though. Some people maintained that power should be devolved to state, but I don’t belong to that school of thought. If power is devolved to state, we will all have a slight difference from what we have now. It is by building a caber in different states against a certain homogeneous tribes. For instance, Yoruba is a homogeneous tribe so when you say power should devolve to states, it will bring disunity against the Yoruba’s and an average Lagosian would say he does not have anything to do with the Yoruba’s, that they have everything to sustain them. Devolving power to states will sharply divide the homogeneous tribe and ethnics in the country. It will also divide the Yoruba people.

However, the Niger Delta may not have anything to loose because it is one kilometer and one language. Regionalism is the best. When a child falls, he looks forward but when an elder falls, he looks back. So let us look back, how did we get our independence, we got independent in 1960, before we got independent we have been existing as a country, though through the amalgamation of the country and when we wanted to have a self government in 1954, it was regionalism. What we achieved in five years of regionalism, we have not been able to achieve it from the government. The only thing we have achieved is private initiative from individuals, private development and contents into our society.

What I see as the solution to Nigeria problem is that Nigeria should be restructured into regional structures, the way we got independent or we can go back to the 1963 constitution, we don’t need to stress ourselves, we only need to amend few things in the 1963 constitution to make it suitable with what is happening now.

Now that the call for restructuring is not yet yielding any concrete action, what can the Yoruba people do to help the country move forward?
Well the agitation still continues. We will be trying our best even though we have not achieved restructuring, we will continue our agitation till we arrive at our promise land. When people deny you freedom and you keep quite without fighting for it, you will continue to be in slavery. But when it dawn on you that you are in slavery, you will call on God to liberate you.

Considering the state of the economy, what do you think is the way to get us out of it?
The way out is for us to restructure and look inward, there are lots of competitions when we talk of the economy of the nation. The west majorly was on agriculture, cash crops, cocoa, coffee, cola and other things and the East are dealing with palm kernel, coal and other things. The North, are called Northern pyramids but now what kind of economic competition do we have from our states now? It is just for them to collect their allocation and when their allocation is reduced, they shout that ‘we don’t have money to pay salary oh’, but when they have large chunk of allocation and increase, they are silent. Apparently there Governors who owe their workers nine months salary or even more than. So, let us structure, let the region and the state control the solid mineral. Let us teach them how to fish, not fishing and giving to them. Not for our governors to be immature and be going to Abuja to collect money.

Although they will still be collecting money from the Federal Government but they should know how to make the money. This way someone will not just rise up and borrow money from the bank and contest as governor, bribe the godfather and sell his house worth about N2BN, get a ticket and now at the end of the day become a Governor without having plans to serve the people. Most of them don’t know what they are going there for. So when they get into the seat of power, the civil servants would discover that the Governor is empty, they will now be pushing him around, meanwhile the politicians are also at standby. All they will plan is to confuse and misdirect him in order for him to fail. So let us restructure, let the region and the state control the solid mineral. Let us teach them how to fish so they could fish for their survival.

In what way is OPC assisting the government in ensuring adequate security in the country?
There are many ways in which OPC is assisting the government. I can say categorically that the existence of OPC in South- West has helped to reduce crimes drastically. About 60/65 percent of the streets are secured by OPC as a private guard; a good example is the issue of Badoo in Ikorodu. The Deputy Commissioner of police, being a level headed person and passionate about his job invited us to complement their efforts and within three weeks we were able to sort it out. As a matter of fact, the court has given signals that all DPO’s in Lagos state should relate with OPC on issues of crimes.

Adequate security is the bedrock of any society. The security of any society goes beyond security agencies that are paid by the
Government to do the job because without adequate security the society is not safe and there will be no progress. The most important thing for any government is to provide security for its people. This will encourage and attracts investors and international tourists into the country. In terms of security we have done enough. Another thing is that OPC has changed the psyche of the youth in the society; we have encouraged those that the society taught are useless to be useful to themselves and the society at large.

By God’s grace, we have trained and lectured them and most of them are now responsible citizens. Before the existence of OPC some of them belong to various bad gangs that disturbs the peace of the society but now, they are changed men.

The chief of army staff hobnobbing politicians with a view of carrying out a coup, what is your take on it?
We have been hearing that from the beginning and we haven’t heard that there is any coup. He is just insinuating. There was a rumor about one year ago that there was going to be a coup and they have apprehended those army officers. We haven’t seen the list of those apprehended but at the end of the day they denied it. It is not good for army occupation to involve in politics. It is only when you retire that you can join politics but don’t forget that they just left power 18 years ago and some of them still have eyes in power but military government is not the best all over the world, especially in a country like Nigeria that have not even seen the dividends of democracy.

We have many governors who have made money and they are not ready to serve under any military when the military comes, it is an authoritarian government, so military government is not the best, we have move beyond that in this country, so anybody planning coup should have a rethink. There are lots of people paying for the genocide in Rwanda. So, when you are in position of authority don’t think of how you will oppress the people else you will be in trouble. Power is not forever, it is momentary, the moment you are there, and there will be a time that you will leave there. Even kings don’t last forever.

What is your take on president Buhari’s plan to reshuffle his cabinet?
No comment.

Obasanjo has continued to call national assembly members on armed rubbers because of their bourgeois salary, what do you have to say about that?
No comment

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Otunba Gani Adams


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