By Bashir Adefaka
Alhaji Lam Adesina, a former governor of Oyo State and chieftain of Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, is highly optimistic that the Ghana magic that took power from the incumbent and gave it to opposition in the former Gold Coast’s last presidential election will play out in Nigeria in 2011.  In this interview, he said among others  that any attempt to rig the 2011 elections would be met with trouble and cataclysm.  Excerpts:

What is your take on political happenings in Oyo State?

Many things are taking place in the politics of Oyo State.  The position of politics in the state is changing and the ACN, my party, is winning ascendancy day-by-day as a result of people’s dissatisfaction with the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP-led government of Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala.  He has not been able to perform to the satisfaction of the people; he seems to be wasting the resources of Oyo State and there is nobody to call him to order.  Some days ago I was in Oyo town where a PDP chieftain in that town, in the person of Chief Laka, declared publicly for the ACN. It was jubilation galore in Oyo town that day.

While you were in Oyo town for the declaration, you had a closed-door meeting with the Alaafin of Oyo who, in his remarks, said it was the first time you were visiting his palace.  How has the relationship been between you and the monarch?

That was not the first time I was visiting him.  I visited him several times when I was governor of Oyo State.  It’s not that we disagreed sharply as such.It was a matter of disagreement on principles.  He went to court and got judgement after my tenure.  Ever since then we’ve been seeing each other at various ceremonies and we’ve been greeting.

In recent time, I think the relationship has gone deeper.  It is now he has realised my very high respect for him as a very powerful and respected monarch in Yorubaland, who is ruling the ancient Kingdom of Oyo.  The ancient Kingdom of Oyo is the seat of Yoruba Empire and anybody who rules there is the leader of all the monarchs in Yorubaland.  So I respect him as such.  Now he has seen that most of the things I did when I was governor were done based on genuine intentions.  So, that visit was like a very good friend paying visit to another very good friend.

What is the rationale behind the ongoing alliance talks between the ACN and Gen Muhammadu  Buhari’s CPC?

As much as possible, all opposition groups must come together in the interest of Nigeria.  The PDP has failed Nigeria and the country is now in a standstill that nothing is working any more.  The monetary policy of the Nigerian government is nothing to write home about and the country is sinking deeper and deeper into economic mess.  All infrastructures have collapsed and efforts made till date have not yielded any positive result.

You continue to talk about power, energy.  Twelve years into the administration of the PDP, energy has not been achieved; power supply is still epileptic. Unemployment rather than going down is going up day-by-day; crime rate is rising very fast and security is nothing to write home about. Many Nigerians are sleeping under bridges, in shanties. There is no shelter. Nigeria, the God’s own country, which was producing food and every thing needed for her citizens several years back, either for consumption or exportation, now cannot boast of food security.

So, it’s in the interest of this country that opposition groups must meet, whichever way, form an alliance and take over power from this PDP that has ruined the country.

You know we are only being optimistic when we say Nigeria is not a failed state.  All the ingredients of a failed state are in Nigeria. Things cannot be allowed to go on like this.  And I want to say that 2011 is the year of magic that everybody is waiting for.  If no magic is performed as expected, the result may not be palatable for anybody in the country. It appears now that people have placed their hope in 2011 and God hears our prayers. If 2011 does not bring the desired change in Nigerian politics, if it turns out to be business as usual and winning by rigging, then I can say definitely that we should forget the entity called Nigeria!

Given the failure of past alliances, what are you doing now to ensure that it works this time around?

We have sensitised the people enough. There is a visible change in the atmosphere with regard to the electorate of this country today.  Those of us who are in the field and have been sending emissaries to several places in Nigeria know that there is visible change among the electorate in Nigeria today.

Therefore, elections are going to be held, people are going to troop out in large numbers never seen in Nigeria before and these people are not going to allow their votes not to count.  I know of Oyo State, particularly, where the people’s enthusiasm is such that, may be God should shorten the days so that the elections day will come quickly for them to vote and deliver the message. That is the situation now.

And any type of trick by anybody will not pay this time around.  That’s why I’m warning about 2011 that one-man-one-vote should count; one-woman-one-vote should count; one-young man or one-young woman-one vote should count.  Let the people’s vote count, otherwise, anybody who rigs will see the other side of the coin.

How do you view the controversies trailing the National Assembly’s moves to amend the amended Electoral Act and the 1999 Constitution review?

What they are doing is a kind of delay tactics; we have said that all along.  Honestly, the PDP, whether the people at the executive level as epitomised by the President and at the National Assembly level as epitomised by the Senate, want to delay things. They know that the eyes of the whole world are on them concerning credible, free and fair elections.  They see that there is nothing they can do to stop credible, free and fair elections from holding in Nigeria so they are trying to find some other ways to tamper with the process. The PDP is now preparing for the elections seriously because they know that this time around the opposition will sweep the polls.  There is no doubt about it.  The PDP is going to disintegrate after the elections.  They have ruined Nigeria and so Nigeria will ruin them in return.

Why have politicians, including you failed to make changes in 12 years?

In 2003 when I wanted to return to office for second term, I was rigged out.  Which I knew very well and later, even those people among my journalist friends who said; you AD governors, you are behaving like emperors and so on.  It was not so.  They rigged us out of office.  The people voted for us: myself in Oyo State, Osoba in Ogun State, Bisi Akande in Osun State, late Adefarati in Ondo State and Adebayo in Ekiti State. They voted for all of us en mass but the Federal Government assisted by the Nigerian Police rigged the elections.

And many people were saying, ‘Yes, the AD governors deserve it and so on and so forth.’  When it came to 2007 and it affected more people, people now started to shout, ‘We don’t accept it, they rig, they rig.’

2011? Enough is enough!  Eight years of rigging: no trouble, no problem given to them by the opposition.  In 2011, there will trouble. There will be cataclysm, if any rigging is done! So, that’s why they are going into the field.  Just like the opposition took over government in Ghana, in Nigeria here, 2011 we are going to take over the government! That’s my prediction.

How do you see the resurgence of hostilities in the Niger Delta between militants and security forces?

I think the Federal Government has not wholeheartedly implemented the post_amnesty programme.  The militants are not fools; they are human beings and I think they are very intelligent.  They can smell rat any time.

I have always been saying that let us do justice to every group in this country. This issue of militant behaviour in this country must be properly investigated: what do they really want and what have we given them so far?  How do we meet them again?  It’s not a matter of fighting them that will solve the problem.  I don’t believe that fighting can do it.  I think we have to sit down and talk.

In actual fact, I think one of the issues to be discussed in the campaign for next year elections will be this issue of militants.

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