BY CLIFFORD NDUJIHE
…Insists Nigeria must hold national confab
SEnator Omololu Samuel Meroyi, chairman of Senators Forum (South-West), was in the Senate between 1999 and 2003 representing Ondo South on the plank of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) before defecting to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In this interview, he speaks on his renewed guber ambition after losing the PDP ticket to Dr Segun Agagu in 2003, his chances, why Nigeria must convene a national confab and dialogue with Boko Haram. Excerpts:
As a senator, what is your take on clamour for the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference (SNC)?
A Sovereign National Conference can only take place when there is a political vacuum in the seat of government. However, as at today, there is neither vacancy in any of the key positions of government nor is there any crisis in that direction, how be it, in view of the security problems occasioned by the Boko Haram and new incidents of eruptions of crisis in the Niger Delta, the unanswered question of marginalisation, it is necessary that a conference of the nationalities that constitute Nigeria be convened.
It will provide a platform for the basis of the unity of Nigeria; a discussion on what form of government that is more suited be it confederal or federal and define the institutions that can support our choice and on the whole assuage the fears of the minorities by entrenching in the new “mucous operand” the elements that give their support.
Dialogue is the only means to resolve crisis and whether minor, major or international dialogue is the only way known to man. Therefore, Nigeria’s problems and Boko Haram in particular can be solved through dialogue between the parties.
Given our numerous crises, what is the way forward for the country?
The way forward for Nigeria is for a new orientation so that every part of the federation is allowed to function effective while individuals’ faiths in the nation need to be strengthened. As an emerging state, Nigeria cannot continue as a mono-cultural economy, diversification and improvement in resource management is a goal that must be vigorously pursued.
On governance, the cost of governance must be drastically reduced and corruption tackled to release resources for the development of the country. Nigeria as part of the global village need to be aggressively pursued though the development of technology so that we are not left behind in the years ahead. It is also part of the way to address the global warming that is threatening the entire world.
Why do you want to govern Ondo State?
My desire to govern Ondo State is borne out of the wish to give back to my society. I grew up in a rural setting and have seen poverty in it nakedness and wrath and believe that when people grant their collective sovereignty to an individual or group of people, it is with the hope that they will lessen their burden and improve their lot.
Knowledge and wisdom
I am interested in governing Ondo State to use what God has given me in knowledge and wisdom to touch lives and improve my state.
You are running on the platform of ACN, what are your chances against the ruling Labour Party?
The Labour Party in Ondo State is a child of circumstance. In an emotive urge to drive away the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ondo State people accepted LP and Mimiko not because they had any track record but through manipulations and media propaganda.
It has now dawned on all of us, in truth, that we have a heritage and cannot be an island any longer. It is also clear that actions cannot meet the expectations and promises have failed and our people deserve a better share. The LP have been tested in three years and have failed in many areas that the people will gladly vote them out of government and bearing any electoral manipulations, LP cannot succeed.
Critics say age might not be on your side that you ought to leave the stage for the younger generation. What is your comment on this?
On the question of age, my view is that you cannot purchase experience on the shelf. In fact in terms of maturity, experience, I am better than all the contestants and there are no constitutional limitations. We can see that even those who govern at younger ages have not displayed any better performance.
I have been opportuned to have been to the House of Reps and Senate and held other public offices and in any of these, have met the challenges of such appointments. My state of health is also superb and therefore ready and prepared to face the rigours of the office of Governor. The truth is that we should let those who can do the job irrespective of the age.
How are you going to correct Mimiko’s wrongs?
The perceived mistakes of a government are dependent on who is assessing that government. For me, the mistakes of Mimiko’s Government are wrong prioritization and bad planning. Like I have said earlier, with me in government, there will be structural reform but the reform will set new priorities which will emphasise that government is about people.
We will also put an end to white elephant projects, like dome and pursue rural development and integration of our rural communities through network of roads and opening up of our canals and river channels in an effective and efficient way. For Ondo State, there is no reason for us to remain poor, bearing in mind, the oil, mineral resources and agricultural potentials. The leadership requirement is probably a singular factor and this must be addressed through specialized education and public enlightenment programmes.
Ondo is the only state that is not controlled by ACN in the South-West and Mimiko says one-party South-West is not possible. What is your take on this?
The statement that one party across SouthWest is not possible forgets history. We all started as Western Nigerian with the then Premier in Ibadan. By this fact of history, we all belong to one group of states and our development need mutual support from all the co-operating units (states).
I also want to add that recent development thoughts point to the need for regionalization and development of different competences in a manner that will promote economics of scale and comparative advantage to each of the states. It is therefore desirable that we in Ondo State join hands with our neighbours and belong to the age long Oodua heritage and jointly, we can lead the pace for development in Nigeria.
Is power rotation in Ondo in favour of your aspiration?
Yes, the rotation of power in Ondo State supports my candidature. In the annals of civil and democratic governance, five persons have taken the seat of government, two from the North-Adekunle Ajasin and Ade Adefarati, one from the South -Segun Agagu and one from Central –Segun Mimiko, the incumbent Governor. Since the Central Senatorial District cannot succeed itself, it is South that should produce the Governor.
Another major factor in this consideration is economic. In these years of civil rule, there has been neglect and marginalization of the South. There is a need for the South Senatorial District to direct the affairs of the management of our resources so that adequate attention is given to our district, which is the food basket and harbinger of our natural resources.