Comrade Razaq Olokoba, renowned rights activist and National President of Campaign for Dignity in Governance (CDG), spoke with the media on Monday in Lagos. The youthful public commentator, during the session took a critical look at the 80-page manifesto of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and declared that, the document has answers to all the national questions.
The Ilorin, Kwara State born political commentator also spoke on other issues of national interests.
As an indigene of Kwara State, what is the political situation in the state now that the general election is close by?
As we are all aware that Nigeria is facing various challenges, I want to say that Kwara State as part of Nigeria is not left out. What Nigeria faces as a challenge, same is facing Kwara State too. Talk of insecurity, Kwara State is also experiencing it. But President Muhammadu Buhari and all the state governors are doing their best. And that has really impacted on democracy, politics and governance across the country.
And being that as it may, we will not relent in the push for good governance. As we are approaching the next major election in Nigeria, what is uppermost in the mind of the citizenry presently is expectation of the shape of things to come. So, if we want to talk about Kwara, I will say the state is not significantly different from all other states of the federation in governance and turning out of political aspirants and candidates.
The most secured political aspiration in Kwara today, I will say whole-heartedly, to the glory of God is that of Turaki of Ilorin, Mallam Saliu Mustapha, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Senatorial Candidate for Kwara Central District. If you do a genuine political analysis of development in Kwara today, Saliu Mustapha stands out. And he has the chance of winning the Kwara Central Senatorial seat in the coming 2023 general election convincingly. His popularity is rising by the day. And his victory next year is almost a foregone conclusion from the onset.
Looking at other candidates, they may also have a lot of challenges ahead of them. We are not saying that they would keep calm. Far from it. They will also push and kick, but given the development on ground presently, and if the scenario has not changed, Saliu Mustapha is going to win convincingly. I seek the indulgence of people reading this interview to take time to go to Kwara State today for on the spot assessment of the situation, and I am very sure they will endorse my position on Saliu Mustapha. He will take the victory trophy home after the February 25, 2023 senatorial poll.
Having said that, what would you say about the state governor, Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Abdur-Razaq?
Thank you very much. I look at the state governor, Abdur-Rahman Abdur-Razaq and see someone in the middle of a storm. And he is trying his best to take control of the storm to his advantage and for the benefit of the good people of the state.
The only thing I can say about the governor at this period is that he has to be wary of deceitful reconciliation. In the recent time, and as I have said in my recent interviews that, if he wanted to coast home successfully, he should ensure coming together in unity of all the members of the party across the state. This is because Saraki Dynasty in Kwara is not a joke that can be wished a way with the wave of the hand. And Saraki is the leader of the opposition in the state at the moment. His father, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki of the blessed memory had four decades of consistent politicking leading the political processes in the state and beyond. He did it for over 40 years. The younger Saraki, Bukola has also been around solidly like his father. He was governor for eight years. And he was also not just a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but President of the Senate for four years. And he was the leader of government in terms of party structure in Kwara in those periods that he reigned.
So, against that background, the return of Abdur-Razaq for another four years in that state should not be considered as a tea party. I look at all the people that are in government today as aides and heads of agencies, many of the people who mild around them lack little courage to give them the true pictures of the development in the state. So, in most cases, when you see the people working with the government at this moment, when they express their views about the political process in the state, it is always a sharp contradiction to what is in the mind of the people in town.
And that is why some of us go to the media all the time that if we cannot reach the governor personally, it is sure we can reach him through the media. And one of the important items on our list is to sound a note of warning to the governor to be wary of deceitful reconciliation. I mean the recent reconciliation he had; he has to look at the integrity of that reconciliation. He needs to carry out his own investigation to find out whether the people involved are committed to the outcome of the exercise. It is very important. Many people around him may not have the courage to tell him, but we are telling him today that he should look towards that direction.
And for him, as the governor, he should learn from us that in the last two years, we have consistently told President Muhammadu Buhari that, this is not the time to keep quiet about his achievements. We knew when Buhari came in and the mirage of problems confronting us as a nation and what he has done to confront and surmount those problems. People have forgotten, they can’t remember those things again unless you remind them again and again. We told him and still keep telling him that, your duty as the president is to remind Nigerians. And thankfully, he has been doing that. He has been reminding us of all the things he did for the country in the last seven years. And people marry it with Jonathan administration with what is happening. And if you look at the public opinion today, people have started to remember Buhari’s role and they are coming to conclusion that, with this wobble structure on ground, Buhari appears to have done his best.
If he has kept quiet and left office without talking out, he would be the worst remembered president Nigeria has ever had in the history of the country. People don’t keep quiet about the good things they have done for the country. That is applicable to governor Abdur-Rahman Abdur-Razaq too.
There was a leader in the Great Britain, who stammered. But because the role of governance is about talking, giving instructions, pronouncing policies, explanation of programmes, expressing the government positions on many critical societal issues, he delegated power effectively to achieve that. The remaining half in governance is a practical work. Other half is about talking. So, the governor should go and learn how to talk to 10 million people of Kwara. He is not in the private sector. He is not in business. He is in government to offer good governance. And governors talk. This kind of silent mode cannot do him any good. It is damaging to political profiles. And it is not good for his government. You have to talk to the people.
I remember when Abdur-Razaq was coming in, teachers were no longer paid. Teachers were almost beggars. Civil servants were not paid. Our roads were bad. But you came and see a lot of things you have done now. I am not the person to tell the people of Kwara what you have done. It is your role, duty and responsibility to tell us what you have done. We know what you have done, but it is not the people that would champion the decision to start telling the people your achievements. It must start from you.
You have to instruct all your appointees, all the heads of the agencies to tell the people the results of government activities in the past three years. You are not sitting in the office doing nothing. You have been working for God’s sake! And to that extent, you must remind the people where you are coming from and the point you are now. There is nowhere in the world where governors adopt this kind of silent mode and they would not be misunderstood. The governor has been thoroughly misunderstood. And I don’t blame anybody for that except the governor himself.
Those of us, who know the politics of Kwara inside out, are appreciative of the peace being enjoyed by the people in the state. Whatever the governor does to sustain the peace, I will be ever grateful to him on that. He earns our eternal gratitude for preventing the youth from killing each other in Kwara and Ilorin Metropolis. We commend him for that. So, don’t you want to remind the people about that? Don’t allow people to forget that?! You must not allow the people to forget that because the youth are looking up to role models. That is fortunately happening in Kwara now.
In the past, our youth were looking up to wrong role models. Youth are now engaging in constructive public discourse. It was not like that before. It used to be violence against violence before. And when you have done that and put governance back to the street, why keeping quiet about that?! Anybody, who encourages the governor to adopt that silent mode at this period, is either very insincere or he lacks political understanding of the value of talking in governance. But some of what the people are talking about the governor, our investigations discovered that half of it are lies. We are familiar with blackmails of politicians. All of the things they are saying about the governor might not be true. But why should people not believe the lies when the subject matter himself has adopted a silent mode of attitude?!
So, for us, election is close by, and this is the time to demand for the results of what Abdur-Razaq has done. The governor must start talking. All government functionaries must come out to tell us what they have done with the tax payers’ money and our allocation. How far they have gone and how do they intend to go about giving more dividends of democracy to the people of the state. It is important. Important in the sense that whatever the governor said has become quotable quotes.
Why do you thinks the likes of Tafawa Balewa, Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, Nnamidi Azikiwe said what they said during their live time? They didn’t speak in their rooms. They talked to the nation. In addressing your state, we would pick from what you say and put it on marbles. Don’t you want your quotes on marbles? Don’t you want us to quote your words on marbles? Don’t you want to be remembering your brilliant performance in Kwara State? We will not write your history for you. You will write your history yourself through what you have said about your good work for humanity and based on the good thing you have done. So, it is time the governor started talking to us.
Back to Saliu Mustapha again. Can we have an insight into how his victory as a senator rubs on the governor’s performance at the poll?
Good question. There is going to be precedence in election particularly in the third world politics. In the rest of the world, precedence plays roles but not as significantly as it is in Africa. In the third world, once a political party took off in the first stage of a staggered election, the remaining elections take the same pattern of the first one. Once the first election in the first stage is won by a particulars political party, other elections would follow the pattern of the earlier one.
So, since the presidential election along with the legislative houses (Senate and House of Representatives) would come up first, the moment Saliu Mustapha coasts home at the Central District, the governorship election that would come up later could be said to be a done deal for the APC and its governorship candidate-Abdurahman Abdur-Razaq. And Mustapha’s popularity would influence the victory for the governor. The People that voted for Mustapha that gave him senatorial victory would also vote Abdur-Razaq to become governor again. So, Mustapha’s victory would contribute significantly to the victory of the governor.
If you look at the personality of Saliu Mustapha outside politics, you would realise he is a high ranking indigene of the state. As Turaki of Ilorin, I don’t know his number in the hierarchy to the Emir but I am very sure he is very high up there. In addition, the election in Kwara Central is about the Emirate. And the Emirate decides where the pendulum of victory in Kwara State swings. Once the Emirate has decided the victory of Mustapha, the governor’s success is a done deal. With Mustapha in, Abdur-Razaq can then go home and sleep over Kwara south and Kwara north.
Many people who are apathy before have been inspired by the emergence of Mustapha as the APC Senatorial candidate for the Kwara Central. Naturally those who would not have voted before have now changed their mind with Saliu Mustapha in the race. And so, with the emergence of Mustapha, there is an indication that the people have reached the decision to vote and there is no going back. This means that the APC and all its candidates in the state are good to progress. The sing song in the state now is, we will vote Saliu Mustapha for Senate and Abdur-Rahman Abdur-Razaq for governor.
The victory Saliu Mustapha and Abdur-Rahaman Abdur-Razaq got was through a coalition. And that coalition is a bit shattered now. And the reconciliation is a suspicious reconciliation. It appears deceitful and that is why the governor should be wary of that reconciliation. The governor must look at the integrity and the profiles of those involved to be sure of how committed those people are to the outcome of the decision for the reconciliation.
However, coming back of Abdur-Razaq for a second term may not be easy as envisaged because the opposition victory over the ruling party in Osun State has embolden the opposition in Kwara State too. And the opposition we are talking about in Kwara is not a featherweight. Saraki played a very significant role in Osun State election. He has been going round the country to garner support. And by my guess, he was also in Edo State. Also by my guess he was in Ekiti though they did not win in Ekiti.
And to me, in Kwara, the governor has a big challenge ahead of him and the earlier he begins preparation for the big challenge the better. And part of the preparation is to begin to tell the people the good things he has been doing for the people all this while.
How would the scenario you have painted affect the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the election?
As days roll by, popularity of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been spreading like harmattan fire in the desert. And other opposition camps are jittery. All their activities are all in panicking measure. And I knew before now that, whenever Tinubu starts rolling out his plan of activities, all other camps would be jittery. And it has started happening already.
If you look at the 80-page manifesto he unveiled recently, when I look at it, the whole threats to the unity of Nigeria have been taken care of. This is the document that has spoken about all the areas of concerns about Nigeria. He has spoken extensively about what our Police should look like. He spoke extensively about all sectors of our economy. He has touched all the positions we have been clamouring for in this country. Problems of this country cannot be addressed in isolation and that is why we need somebody with capability to handle a complex country like Nigeria. We don’t need someone with average intelligence. The moment you put the structure in place, the country is put on auto run. And with that, anybody can rule Nigeria. But at the moment, the problem is complex that the Messiah that will put the country on the right path cannot be someone who has not been tested and trusted before with all our problems. And the person should not be the one with promissory note. All the previous manifestos have been about ‘I will do this and I will do that,’ how do they want to achieve all the promises is where we are taking off now.
For instance, if you say ASUU will not strike again, ASUU has been asking for money. The question would be the money ASUU has been asking for to run the Universities, where would you get it from? The manifesto has answered the question. Health sector with particular reference to African medication, go and read the manifesto, it has taken care of that. If you look at all sectors of our life, there is none of it that the manifesto has not touched. The manifesto has touched significantly all the sectors that require the attention of our lives as Nigerians. And that is why we should be happy that, after a long time, we have something to hold Nigeria’s political class with. We have something to hold the APC on to.
The previous commitment did not allow us to have a strong hold on the political class, but this one sufficiently gives directions. Any president that wants to operate with that Tinubu’s manifesto in office would have to answer all the national questions.