Otunba Gani Adams is a delegate to the National Conference. Adams, who is also the National Coordinator of the Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, in this interview, declares that some delegates from the South West have a mission to sabotage the region’s agenda. Excerpts:
By Dapo Akinrefon
The National Conference has been on for some time now. Are you comfortable with the deliberations?
I was comfortable with the conference at the beginning until we got to the committees stage.
With the report coming from the committees, I am not comfortable especially with the Devolution of Power, Restructuring of the Party and even my own Committee on National Security because, in our own, the chairman broke us into sub-committees.
I am the Vice-Chairman, Crisis Management Committee, the sub-committee of Defence Intelligence, we did not discuss about the police, which is part of my own agitation. We were not given the power to discuss the police. Our own was about defence intelligence, state security, that was the context.
But the sub-committee was given the job to bring about proposal on the way to bring about state police. From their report, I am not comfortable.
And from what came out of the devolution of powers, even the restructuring of the Nigerian polity too, is not okay for me. What we want is for this conference to make a change, we did not agitate for the status quo to remain.
We brought a proposal to the conference based on the federating units that powers should be devolved to the federating units based on regionalism but the Devolution of Powers Committee, at the end of the day, said they don’t want powers to be devolved to the states, they want states as federating units.
Even if you want states as federating units, you now say you don’t want regions? How can you devolve powers to states without having state police?That is not a federal system of government.
In America that we copied this system of government from, they have as many structures of police, even train stations have their own police, universities have their own police, they have county police, they have state police, they have federal police, they have FBI, which is equivalent to our own SSS here. This is a country where we are not ready to learn any lesson and we don’t have human feelings.
Assuming we have state police, we would not have witnessed what is happening in the North in terms Boko Haram, and if it happens, the casualties will be less because the people can effectively and efficiently protect their area.
So for you to bring a recommendation that power is being devolved to states as federating units and they don’t have state police, doesn’t make sense; that does not give adequate security.
A country with a population of about 200 million people can never be run on the basis of a central police, it is never being done anywhere in the world the federal system of government is being practised.
Secondly, we are talking of devolution of power, from what I heard, they recommended 50 per cent of resource-control on on-shore, they left out the off-shore to the Federal Government. The other sharing formula, they gave 42 per cent to the Federal and 25 per cent to local governments. Are you telling me if so much money is given to oil-producing states, how do states like Ekiti and Osun survive?
And some other states too in the country.
We are talking about our states in the South-west. We have about three states in the East that will find it difficult to survive.
But it is still at the level of recommendations.
Look, if somebody is not analyzing this, at the plenary, people will fall into the mistake. We have people as delegates at the conference who do not know what is being done there.
We have some people that have the intention to sabotage restructuring, we even heard from a northern delegate, who said ‘don’t think you can come here and restructure this country.’
So it is time for us to enlighten ourselves. Even with the recommendations, without regionalism, the country would be where it is. When we had regionalism, some weak states benefitted from the economy of stronger states.
Like the South-west now, if we have states like Ekiti and Osun, they will benefit from the economic potentials of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo and even Ondo states because we have to lift ourselves.
When we were in Western Region, most of the money was coming from Ondo, Ekiti and Osun whose land was fertile to plant cocoa. The resource was being used to develop the region, including Lagos; so why now that most of the resources are in Lagos State that some people are saying they came with Lagos Agenda that they don’t want a region, that they don’t want to go back to Ibadan to take orders?
But I am saying that they don’t have to go to Ibadan to take any order. It is not compulsory that they go to Ibadan for any order. We can use Lagos State as a capital of Western Region, so why are we trying to short-change ourselves?
Going by what you are saying now, delegates from S/West cannot be said to have an agenda?
We have about 45 per cent of them that do not even believe in the Yoruba Agenda. I was shocked that a human rights activist, who is a Yoruba person, told us that he doesn’t believe in the Yoruba Agenda, that he is a Nigerian.
Well, we are not saying that Nigeria should break, we are talking on the basis of true federalism, which they don’t believe. They said they don’t believe in regionalism, that they came for the Nigerian project.
And what is the Nigerian project in their own understanding?
The Nigerian project is that the status quo should remain and these are the people we are fighting the same cause together. I don’t want to mention any name, the fellow is a leading figure and he is an activist.
As delegates from the South-west, do you meet often to take decisions?
We met but unfortunately after the maiden meeting, they told us that they don’t believe in regionalism. We tried to convinced them. It even got to a time that I was trying to prostrate to some of them; I told them this is our last chance in Nigeria to liberate ourselves.
We have some of them who said there is nothing like parliamentary, it is an old system. They say they don’t want regionalism. That is what is happening in Abuja.
Before you left for Abuja, you met and decided on an agenda for the Yoruba. What do you think would have happened between then and the time you got to Abuja?
I think some of them don’t want to associate with the Yoruba cause, some of them, based on their political affiliation, believe they don’t want people like Baba Ayo Adebanjo, Sir Olaniwun Ajayi, among others. They believe they are core-Yoruba irredentists.
They don’t want to identify with their idea, even with people like me. Some of them are even more comfortable to argue that more resources should be in Abuja. Some of them are more familiar with Abuja than with Lagos or Yorubaland. Some governors too, apart from Lagos State, don’t want to go back to Ibadan, they don’t want regionalism.