Senator Olugbenga Onaopepo Obadara vied with Senator Ibikunle Amosun for the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN governorship ticket ahead of the last general election but lost out but was compensated with the Ogun Central Senatorial flag which he successfully flew during the last National Assembly election. His main contender was the former incumbent, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello.
Few weeks after taking his seat in the Senate, the man popularly called ‘Arole Osoba’ spoke to Vanguard on several issues bothering on national security, the contest against Obasanjo-Bello, the immortalization of late Chief MKO Abiola among other issues. Excerpts:
By Bashir Adefaka
What should we expect from you in the Senate?
The dividends of democracy are sacrosanct and we stand on that. Mind you the expectations from the electorates are huge and we don’t want to let them down and we must not let them down. We don’t want and must not frustrate their support. Where the National Assembly, the Senate need to correct, we would not hesitate to do that. Where we need to commend, we would gladly do it. What is paramount in our minds now, like I said earlier, is the development of the nation – Nigeria. We are working with all the agencies, departments and the parastatals in making sure that developments are distributed evenly. Where we do not see this, we would demand.
As for the Egbas, my constituents in Ogun Central, I can tell you that I will do everything possible with my colleagues to ensure that we attract developments. Even if it means working with our governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, at Federal level to bring Federal presence and activities to our Senatorial District and Ogun State in general, we would not hesitate and I mean it to champion it. I will not hesitate at the same time as I said if it means begging the President, the ministers to make sure what is due to us is done appropriately. On this we stand.
The Senate recently screened and confirmed Mr. Olusegun Aganga as a Minister despite complaints from Lagosians that he is not from the State. Why did you do that?
Let me tell you this and I can tell you that all the Senators would attest to the fact that there was no letter of protest by any Lagosian to the National Assembly regarding the nominee sent from there. If we did not receive letter from Lagosians, how do you expect senators to start fighting somebody thereof? We received letters from the people of Taraba State and the nominee was stepped down and the President didn’t even intervene. I can tell you quote me on that, the Senate did not receive any letter of protest from any Lagosian on Aganga. How do we then bring that one up where there was no protest?
The appropriate thing to do was for them to write to the Senate and they have senators; they are supposed to write to their senators. We have a way of doing things. Taraba wrote to the Senate, they wrote to the Senate President, they wrote to all senators. So, how do you expect me to cry more than the bereaved? That was what happened.
How do you think the country should respond to the threat posed by the challenge from the Boko Haram group?
Let me quickly say this: the Senate recently met with all service chiefs and National Security Adviser to listen to them to be able to work together at proffering solutions to this Boko Haram issue.
So the problem here is not a one man thing, it is a collective responsibility and we have discussed with all the security chiefs and there will be a periodic review which we have mandated them to do. We have mandated them to do the needful and they have assured us that the needful will be done.
The problem has passed a cosmetic time and this is the time for real action. And we have assured them of our readiness to back them up with all necessary legislative decisions that will help them to do their job properly even including appropriation to ensure they have enough fund to combat these crimes. So we can only encourage them by doing this. They have the onus and they know that we have given them the mandate. The mandate is to make sure that the country is secured. Not only the Boko Haram issue but every other security challenge.
How would you ensure that government policies begin to go down for the good of the Nigerian masses?
With the electoral reforms you could see that one-man-one-vote worked. We can improve from there. We have always said to the (former) ruling government, especially in the Southwest, that they didn’t have people. They only always sit down to write results. Yes I know of Southwest because I know of my domain. The open-secret ballot system adopted was the beginning of failure for PDP. People are going to go for accreditation, come back to vote, stay there until the ballots are counted and right at that place, everybody knows the results!
So before even the collation, we had known the results and that is the beauty of democracy, thanks to the electoral reforms.
That was why MKO Abiola, our great leader, remained great today even in death. Anywhere that is used, you would see the favourable results. How much litigation do you see in court? Litigation has reduced because he that is defeated knows that he has been thoroughly beaten and then gets prepared for another election season.
When it eventually came to reality you actually defeated Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello at the poll. How did you feel and what did it take to achieve that victory over the powerful daughter of the former President?
Let me tell you, there is nothing so spectacular about defeating Iyabo Obasanjo. Nothing! On that very day the media all over the world: BBC, CNN and so on were calling me to ask this same question and that was the same thing I told them. We did our work. All along we knew they were not popular and so, to God be the glory. It’s one-man-one-work at work and I do not see that as super achievement because I know God has done it.
We knew the day God made it possible for electoral reforms to come accepting open-secret ballot system we knew that God had liberated our nation – Nigeria. God liberated us through the open-secret ballot.
The first man to enjoy this kind of highly credible electoral system in Nigeria’s history was late Chief MKO Abiola…
(cuts in) His was super-open because everybody queued behind the man.
There are calls for a posthumous recognition of MKO Abiola’s election and thence honour. What would you do to mobilize your colleagues to actualize this?
I thank God to have been a representative of Chief Moshood Abiola at the National Assembly. I can tell you, what we are still fighting for now is proper recognition because he must be recognized as the man that paid the supreme price for this democracy we are enjoying; the man that put his life forward for us to be liberated. So I’m working with my colleagues from the Southwest and my colleagues from other parts of the geo-political zones on the way to achieve it.
This has become imperative because whatever happened to MKO Abiola can happen to anybody. He must be recognized, he must be immortalized for God’s sake. That is not negotiable. It was not a Southwest but a Nigerian problem that must be properly trashed out. But as Senator, the task is on me to make sure that I work towards this recognition and God willing, I will achieve that. God will give us the energy, the power to make sure Abiola is duly immortalized.
Prof. Wole Soyinka has called for it and many people have also done so that Abuja National Stadium be named after late MKO Abiola. It will happen and my mind tells me that.
ACN legislators are being fingered in how the Southwest lost out of position of control in national politics. Do you agree?
The question you need to ask is: Did anybody in PDP except for the contestants; did anybody in PDP approach ACN leaders for any assistance in helping them? Politics is about negotiation, cajoling and it’s about ego massaging.
But the PDP as a party grandstanded; they were so arrogant thinking they can do it without talking to our own people and what followed was the effect of that.