By Dapo Akinrefon
Dr Josephine Obiajulu Okei-Odumakin is a women’s rights activist. She is the president of Women Arise for Change Initiative and the Campaign for Democracy. Okei-Odumakin was in the forefront of the June 12, 1993 crisis. In this interview, she insists that since the return of democracy in Nigeria, the fundamental questions that surround the basis of the June 12 struggle, are yet to be answered. Excerpts:
TO many Nigerians, the June 12 struggle has not addressed the fundamental problems facing the country. Do you share this view?
It did, to the extent that it was the foundation upon which the Nation’s civil rule, being called democracy, is built upon. That nonetheless, we must agree, that since the return of democracy in Nigeria, the fundamental questions that surrounded the basis of the struggle, are yet to be answered. And these issues are majorly the challenges facing the nation today.
24 years after, do you think the struggle was worth it considering the current state of the country?
It was a worthy cause, for all those who believed in it, and the ordinary Nigerians, who fought and were victims of the arbitrariness of the Military junta.
There have been arguments for and against restructuring of Nigeria. What are your views on restructuring?
That Nigeria must be restructured is an issue that we can no longer run away from, as a nation. Until we address the issue of restructuring of this entity, we may not make any considerable progress as a nation. Recall also, that restructuring was one of the major campaign promises of the incumbent administration, while seeking to be elected few years ago. This has therefore remained one major reason, why we have continued to demand for the implementation of the recommendations of the 2014, National Confab. We cannot take the country, as it is today, out of her numerous quagmire, without restructuring the system.
What do you think is responsible for absence of civil societies and activism? Is it true that some have been bought over?
The Civil Society, remains an active sector of our society today, but I will rather say, that there is a decrease, in the level of activism.
It is not also correct to attribute the low level of activism, to the groups being bought over. One principal factor that is responsible for the low level of activism today, is the political system, which now exists in the country, as opposed to the days of the Military, where street activism was the order, on virtually, daily basis.
More so, we must always remind ourselves, that activism is not a profession, and therefore remains a discretionary engagement, of whosoever, chooses to remain on the line. The most potent weapon, has always been the mass of the people, not necessarily, the number of activists or civil society groups.