Renowned right activist and pro-democracy fighter, Comrade Razaq Olokoba, is the National President, Campaign for Dignity in Governance (CDG) and Convener, Kwara Central Volunteers for Saliu Mustapha Senatorial Ambition. Recently, the Ilorin, Kwara State born public commentator founded a political outfit christened Razaq Kolade Olokoba (RKO), Political Network.
In this media chat in Lagos Friday, July 15, the vocal youth leader spoke on a wide range of political issues in the country such as the Senatorial ambition of a philanthropist, Mallam Saliu Mustapha on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), as well as the trending debate on the Muslim/Muslim ticket of the APC.
You are the Convener of a political organization specifically for the senatorial ambition of a particular politician. What informed your decision on that and why the special interest on the candidate?
Thank you so much for that question. We live in a society where our youth begin to emulate wrong role models. And that is a big challenge for some of us who are older than them. Their role models nowadays are actually an insult to us. Role models are supposed to be nation builders. But by the time you get wrong role models, the society is doomed! We just have to reverse the trend. So, all hands must be on deck to change the mentality and orientation of the youth to know that their role models must not be somebody that can jeopardize and ruin their futures.
When you see a real role model, you would know that he is someone that has a lot of positive things to offer the society. And if we find one, it is then our collective responsibility to rally round him. That is one of the reasons we are supporting Mallam Saliu Mustapha to play a major role in the politics of Kwara State.
With due respect, who is this Saliu Mustapha?
To be simply put, Mallam Saliu Mustapha is the Kwara State Central Senatorial District with the ticket of the APC to contest for a seat at the Senate to represent the good people of Kwara Central senatorial District.
Recently, you organized an endorsement rally for the same candidate with other Civil Society Organizations in toes. If we may ask, what is the excitement all about?
I am from Kwara but I live in Lagos. I remember clearly when we were growing up; we knew who our role models were. We read a lot of books about Tafawa Balewa, Ahmadu Bello, Nnamidi Azikiwe and the late sage, Obafemi Awolowo. Those were the people who put their lives on the line for us to have independence. We cannot also forget the likes of Anthony Enahoro who moved the first motion for our independence. Alexandra the Great conquered the world at the age of 19. Those are the people we read about that inspired our lives to want to be like them. But sadly, that is not the case today! The trend now are about values like prostitution, archers, yahoo-yahoo, drugs, cultism and all sort of negative values. And the society is responsible for that.
And in finding solutions, that is part of why we fish out Saliu Mustapha, a philanthropist, complete gentleman and somebody who is clear about what he wants for the society. With him in the Senate, we are going to have a more dutiful and more honourable parliamentarian. The reason for pushing a good material to the parliament is to be able to push your argument for the good of the people of his constituency. And I know, Saliu Mustapha has the capacity in abundance. And that is one of the reasons we are bringing him on board.
Is there any other reason aside that?
Yes of course. Another reason is that the political tension in Kwara State now requires an intervention. It appears as if the Kwara State Chapter of the APC is under a spell! The Governor, Abdur-Rahman Abdur-Razaq was doing his own thing, the Information and Culture Minister, Lai Muhammed, who is one of the major leaders, was moving towards another direction. A lot of members have left the APC now. Hakeem Lawal is now in the SDP, Professor Oba is also in another party entirely now. This is the testimony that the party is in disarray. So, the emergence of Saliu Mustapha in the Kwara chapter of the APC is a saving grace. His popularity and acceptability has consumed whatever grudges anybody might have been bearing against others in the party. It has doused tension and consumed any crisis that has been bedevilling the party in the state. In short, Saliu Mustapha is a lifeline for the Kwara State chapter of the APC. And it is interesting to note that when he emerged the Kwara Central Senatorial candidate on the ticket of the APC, it was never through violence. It was peaceful because all well-meaning stakeholders who want peace collaborated to make sure that, Saliu Mustapha, a complete gentleman and peace-loving emerged. And since his emergence, peace has started reigning. He emerged as a statesman and not through inducement. He emerged as man of the people who the people love.
To cap it all, there is nothing any one can do about tradition and culture. There is no country that can prosper with a borrowed culture. And that is what we are doing as a people and that is why we are at the level we are today. We need to reawaken our culture back. The title of Turaki of Ilorin which he holds means the Treasurer of the Emirate. The title is mighty. It is not a joke. For His Eminence, the Emir of Ilorin to have honoured him with that title, there must have been a unique quality the Emirate Leaders have seen in him before considering him for the great title. If we marry all the attributes together, we would see the reason he has to be a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to represent the good people of the Kwara State Central Senatorial District from 2023 and I know that the people of the Central he is going to represent would not regret if they give him the mandate.
What do you think informed the crisis in the APC?
At the inception of the crisis, we blamed the leadership of the APC in Kwara State. We felt that there were formidable forces that came together to form the party. You have the ACN, you have the CPC, you have part of APGA, you have the ANPP and you have even part of the PDP. And people are bound to have different views about things. Remember they came together with different programmes and different manifestos. If you want to marry all the parties together, you must be prepared for disagreement. You should be getting ready for managing the envisaged crisis from the embryonic state for the future.
There must have been a body of respected leaders and party elders for crisis resolution responsibility. They would be saddled with the responsibility of crisis resolution mechanism. But sadly, APC doesn’t have that from the state to the national level. And I count that against the party as a fundamental error! In Kwara, when the crisis began to emerge, coloration and profiling crept in like who belonged where! But if the body of elders we are talking about had been put in place, the crisis would have been nipped in the bud before germination and growth beyond redemption.
Against this background, I am appealing to the government through the media that the body should be constituted now without further delay. It is necessary because politics is not an error free process. There must be errors and people must try to resolve the errors. Errors as in how to elect candidates, how to prepare programmes and manifestos, errors in the writing of the constitution and errors in the composition of the EXCO. There must be errors and that brings about the need for a body to be saddled with resolution responsibilities. So, for those errors, you must have modality of resolving them.
Do you see the governor moving toward that direction?
Yeah. The Governor is doing his best to do so and he has gone to an extent of breaking through. And I can assure you, the coming of Saliu Mustapha has assisted the party tremendously. So many people, who were not happy with so many things in the APC have now come back to the party and I believe so many others will also come back to the party for Saliu Mustapha factor.
Get me right please. I am not holding brief for the APC because I am not an APC member. But as a Nigerian, if there is a decision that would affect the lives of Nigerians, one should pay attention to it. issues like who becomes Vice to Atiku, who becomes Vice to Tinubu, who becomes Vice to Obi and who becomes Vice to Kwankwaso and so on must be our collective concern. All these are important to us because it is about our life. Those people who are going to preside over our life must be a great concern to us and we must ask questions on how they want to handle our life.
We should ask them about their programmes for security. Their programmes for education, health, sports, economy and so on. And that is why how crises in APC and PDP in Kwara State are going to be resolved is a concern to me. And I think the emergence of Saliu Mustapha has assisted in that direction of my concern for the state. He has that carriage; he has that charisma and profile of a problem solver. Actually, he has the required capacity to assist the party to put behind it all the differences of the past and move forward for the benefit of the generality of the citizenry. His emergence has revealed that he has been doing all things expected of a mover of peace. I discovered that he has been making painful sacrifices to the party. Little wonder then that a lot of aggrieved party members are coming back after his emergence as the Kwara Central Senatorial candidate of the APC.
And frankly speaking, in the Kwara Central, we need people like Saliu Mustapha, to whom the wellbeing of the district is important. Someone who considers the welfare of the youth as important to. Their career, their professions, their future. And Saliu Mustapha perfectly fits into the bill. By and large, I think the guy is the direction all of us should be looking at.
How do you feel about his emergence vis a vis the governorship election in Kwara State as well as in the presidential election in 2023?
Well, minority plus minority becomes a majority. If we have Mustapha in all the states of Nigeria, the presidential candidate of the party should go and sleep. If we have somebody formidable as Mustapha is in politics of Kwara State in all the 36 states of the federation, and they all work towards same direction for the party, we will arrive at the mathematical calculation of minority plus minority that will be equal to a majority. And that is what I will encourage all the political parties in all the states to do.
I know Saliu Mustapha’s network will reach other important personalities like him in Kwara and in other states too. So, if we put all those pieces together, the party would be able to coast home victoriously. His status will rub off on others in the race. Recall I mentioned that the three groups are endorsing three major candidates namely, Mallam Saliu Musthapha for Senate, Governor Abdur-Rahman Abdur-Razaq for a second term in office and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for president. The groups are the Razaq Kolade Olokoba (RKO), Political Network, Kwara Central Volunteers for Saliu Muatapha and Coalition of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).
Do you foresee a crisis free general election next year?
With our interaction with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), I think they should be commended. Over 80 million people have registered and they are still counting. And before election time, the number can hit 100 million targets because registration is still on going. North-west and south-west are the highest registered voters, in terms of regions. Lagos has the highest number of registered voters in terms of states. Bayelsa has the least number of registered voters in terms of states while the south-east has the least in terms of regions. But the increase over what we had in the past which is about 100 per cent of number of registered voters is impressive. So, whatever the INEC has done to inspire the people to register coupled with the efforts of the parties should be encouraged, I don t think the efforts should be stopped. Remember your vote is your future.
Then the security inscriptions on the ballot papers would also assist in curbing electoral malpractices. For instance, if you snatch a ballot box in Mushin Lagos and take it to Agege to count, it would not work as the ballot papers have different serial numbers. That measure introduced by the INEC is also commendable. I think INEC is also working on how hoodlums would not be able to disrupt elections. It is gratifying to note that stealing ballot papers from Ojaba in Ibadan and taking them to Iwo road to stuff them in ballot boxes there has been put behind us now. Election materials mistakenly taken to another state were returned to the original state they were meant for because the security inscriptions on them made them useless at the wrong location.
INEC should also be commended for that because such measures are some of the processes that reduce frictions and fracas during elections. What work all over the globe are institutions. It is in situations that institutions are not strong that brings about all these unnecessary frictions and fracas during elections. But if you have strong institutions, it brings about normalcy in the way things are done in sane societies. I think fracas will reduce tremendously. And looking at the way the party flag bearers emerged, there were no serious cases of assassination, no large scale violence. Before now the case was not as peaceful. So many people would have been killed by now.
Chief Bola Ige was killed, Funsho William was killed and so on and so forth. With the trend now in the country, people now begin to realise that we can arrive at the Eldorado without committing violence.
What is your view about the Muslim/muslim ticket that has been the talk of town in the recent time?
You see, we have to encourage people to respect agreement, to respect treaty and respect process because if not, we are all going to bear the consequence. What we are facing now is the consequence of the PDP’s refusal to honour the unwritten agreement on zoning formula. I have granted several interviews in which I asserted that, numerical strength is not the only weapon of winning elections. If you have numerical strength as an ethnic group, remember there are also others who have economy. There are people who make their region home for everybody. These are the considerations that must go around. In that wise, today an ethnic group can be president base on numerical strength, tomorrow another one because of economy while another one later because of their receptive nature to visitors.
Sadly, these are the considerations that the PDP jettisoned! If not through what I have said earlier, Barack Obama, a black man could not have become President of America! Black are in the minority in America. But because the white have said we want to have our country for ever, they allowed the like of Obama to be President. If not, there would be frictions because people would protest. And that is what we call American nationalism today. Wherever you come from, America will place you in the list of their priority. So, same in Britain. There is Arish, there is Wales but English has the majority number of people. The reason the Queen becomes the most popular in the world today is not because she is the Queen but it is because of the consideration the system has for other ethnic groups. Before now, the Queen was one of the most disrespected persons in the world. But the moment she recognises the importance of other ethnic groups-the Scottish, the Wales. The Irish is still fighting till tomorrow. Despite the fact that there was great concession!
The moment the PDP jettisoned zoning and said they want to get back to power by all means, others would also be desperate about it. If APC wants to win the election in the north, in fact the Vice Presidential candidate must be a Muslim. If the candidate is from the north, he can pick a Christian from the south. But when the candidate is a southern Muslim, he must pick another Muslim from the north because that is what they are! You cannot change their style. If you want to win an election in India, there must be consideration for the Buddhists. The Buddhists must be considered. They are large in number. Put the number of Buddhists together in India, they are larger that the number of Christians and Muslims in the whole of Africa! So, if you want to win an election, you must consider them. In the north, majority are Muslims.
So, to make sure that their faith is okay with the APC, that is the right thing to do. There would not have been the debate we are experiencing now if the PDP has given consideration to the zoning arrangement whereby all the candidates would be southerners. So, if the PDP’s consideration is how to win the election, the APC will not go home and sleep. They will also say, if that is the case, I must also do something that would make us win this election.
And to me, the whole debate on religion is blackmail. And I am shocked by the direction the debate is coming from! The whole of south-south and south-east, it is Christian/Christian tickets. Then in Lagos, Marwa is a Muslim Jakande a Muslim, Tinubu and Fashola (back to back) are Muslims. The religion issue is a recent thing in our polity. If I may ask, what did the Christians get when Olusegun Obasanjo was President? Did he give them special treatment? Is it not now that Buhari is there that I cannot go to the north even as a Muslim because of insecurity from the hands of boko haram people are describing as Muslim terrorists? Even as a Muslim, I cannot go there.
There are some things I find so funny to me and as a people, we should be looking at programmes they have for us. The violence in the country has no tribal mark. It has no religious inclination. When you are kidnapped, you are kidnapped. When accident wants to happen because of bad road, there would be no consideration for religion or ethnicity. ASUU now on strike, all the children of Muslims and Christians are at home. Everybody is now at home!
So, let someone come on board, whether Christian or Muslim, Buddhist or Harikishna, Sango worshippers or free thinkers. Whatever religion he professes, just let him come on board and solve our problem. That is what we need now and we should not allow anybody to divide us with the question of religion. The programmes and the manifestos should be central to us because election is close by and we are facing a lot of detractions!
Yesterday it was about certificate. Today it is OBIcubana and perhaps, tomorrow would be Atiku is not from Nigeria! These are things that make Nigeria appears to the whole world that Nigerians are not civilised.
Religion is important to all of us but we should not allow that to blind us from asking the contenders critical questions on how to move Nigeria forward. We have said it over and over that there is no guarantee for prosperity for Nigeria if Nigeria is not restructured because what God has not done for Muhammed and Christ, he wouldn’t do it for Nigerians. We should do the needful. Clear role that God wants from human beings, God has spelt it out. As human beings, this is your role and for Me, your God, this is my role. But we keep mixing things up! What we are supposed to do ourselves we are now asking God to come and do it for us. These are clear human made errors and crisis. And as soon as that is put behind us, we would be united and realise that we have no other country beside Nigeria the seventh most populated country in the world. The rise of Africa is tied to Nigeria.
That is what should be our focus now.