By Dapo Akinrefon
Mr Kayode Ajulo, until recently, was the National Secretary of the Labour Party. In this interview, he explains why he left the party and debunks speculations that he may have been picked to succeed the outgoing governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko.
What prompted your resignation as the National Secretary of Labour Party?
I know that voluntarily resignation seems strange in our culture, but I see nothing wrong in bowing out if situation demands it. I contested for the exalted office based on certain projection, understanding and specific goals to give the Nigerian people, masses and workers a platform to actualize their political expectation. However, in life, there are times when the environment may not be conducive; where things seem to be out of order and not working out the way you projected it.
How true is it that Gov. Mimiko is considering you as his successor?
Successor to Dr Mimiko as the governor of Ondo State should not be a thing that should be shrouded in secrecy and uncertainty. I doubt the news as I have not been informed by Dr Mimiko in any of our conversations. In any case, is it the governor that solely appoints a successor or the party or the people of the state?
Yes, Dr Mimiko is the primus in the state, a leader who has given a good account of himself and a leader of men, and I know he must have a say in who his successor is, but Governor Mimiko that I know won’t just unilaterally call ‘A or B’ and say I am considering you for governor. Certainly, he won’t play god in this manner. I think we need to outgrow this idea of godfatherism. People need to understand that leaders emerge through a process of thorough-going, self-criticism and self-development.
A process that is progressive will surely throw up many potential leaders out of which one will ultimately emerge. So that process and the legacy being put in place, as well as the footprint is more important. So nobody should begin to bother their head over whether the governor is grooming a successor or not.
In your view, what type of personality do you think Ondo State needs as Mimiko’s successor?
The state is made of dynamic, industrious, egalitarian, progressive, enlightened and sophisticated people. We are discerning in my state; my people are accommodating, and whosoever that should be the next governor must have the combination of these qualities. He must also have the courage to break new grounds in the area of economic diversification and social engineering, more especially in this era of dwindling oil fortunes.
Are you contesting the Ondo State governorship election?
We are all political animals. I must say I have received in recent time unprecedented calls to contest the poll, but nothing is as good as using your tongue to count your teeth and I have made it clear to my people at several fora that my present preoccupation is to face my law practice, lecture my students, engage myself in projects that promote humanity and positively develop my world.
What is your take on the ongoing war against corruption?
Let me begin by saying that corruption is a cankerworm that must be dealt with in our system. As the founder of Egalitarian Mission Africa, one of my motivations was excising this cankerworm. Any government that fails to address the issue of corruption does not deserve to be taken seriously by the people. However, some important baselines have to be established.
The fight against corruption cannot just be limited to the immediate past regime, just as it must not be limited to past civilian regime, while shielding past military leaders some of whom were actually the architects of corruption in Nigeria. The civil service has to be close marked and scrutinized in order to stamp out this scourge.
Another important aspect of the ongoing war and which some of us are still watching closely is that it would appear as if it is directed more at members and allies of the PDP, while APC members, as well as members of the PDP and other parties that have jumped ship seem to enjoy a kind of immunity. There are serious allegations of corruption emanating from states against some of the APC chieftains, even those serving in the present government which nobody is talking about.
Government cannot fight it alone; individuals and organisations have roles to play. Our legislators need to pass laws to open the space. In Ghana today, they have a novel Whistleblower Law, with which some corrupt judges were recently exposed through intervention of a lone masked journalist. Allow people to watch themselves, let them watch the watchers. Let’s open the space for private prosecutors and come and see how the mighty would be falling.
Finally, we must not also wait until when somebody commit crime before running after him like what of some of our traffic wardens are doing, but we must create a system that makes such crime impossible and undesirable like the new salary paying system.
Are you surprised with the revelations emanating from the arms deal probe?
In Nigeria, we have been through a lot and nothing should surprise anyone again. Maybe, the way to put it is whether one is angry at the level of impunity. We have not succeeded in building enduring institutions. Government, its functions and funds are often personalised. We only pay lip service to the rule of law and separation of power. So, it is not surprising when you hear of a National Security Adviser barging into the Central Bank to cart away billions of Naira in the name of security and money being shared recklessly to cronies. The truth is, it was done in the past, they did it and we must never allow anybody to bamboozle us that it was a novel invention under Jonathan. What we must demand is an end to this and prosecution of those found culpable in accordance with the law.
Again, understanding that the money was purportedly meant for electioneering campaign, I think it will be interesting for EFCC to look into the books of all the parties. The major parties spent huge sums of money on campaign, billions and billions of naira. Where did they get the money? Where for instance did those state governors that funded APC campaign get the money, when they could not pay salaries? Were there cases of money laundering at state level, just as we are now being told took place at federal level?