By Dapo Akinrefon
Dr. Kolawole Olusola-Christwealth is a presidential aspirant on the platform of Social Democratic Party, SDP. Before now, he was a politician in the United Kingdom, a card-carrying member of Labour Party, UK, once invited to contest a political position during Tony Blair’s government but declined because of his conviction that his destiny lies with Nigeria. He is an expert in corporate governance, a product of Lagos Business School, London Graduate School, London Southbank University and University of Oxford (Conted), UK. In this interview, he xrays Nigeria’s democracy and gives his verdict. Excerpts:
What’s your assessment of Nigeria’s democracy in the last 19 years?
Political culture, like any other culture takes time to evolve and develop. We have not done badly at all. We are still evolving and in no distant time, Nigeria’s democracy will be a reference point in Africa. A global measure of democracy is confidence in government.
Nigeria’s democracy is terribly defective at the moment. Nigeria ranks 109, far behind Ghana, Senegal, Mali, Republic of Benin and several countries, shameful to compare the “Giant of Africa” with. We are actually not seen as a democracy but a “Hybrid System” but my government will improve our ranking. One of my focal points during my presidency would be to deepen democracy through education and re-orientation and increasing people’s happiness through deliberate efforts at improving welfare. We shall move from politics of money to politics of patriotism, ideas, innovation and peaceful co-existence.
When our democracy gets free from money, tribalism, religion and other vices and anomalies, we shall be on our way to becoming a great nation as these monsters have been the clogs on our wheels for too long. My government will ensure true democracy and not a hybrid system.
How do we compare the present crop of politicians and political parties to what was obtainable in the first Republic?
There have been debates about the Republic we are currently in. Some argue we are in the 7th Republic but there has not been any disagreement that the first republic was between 1963 and 1966. For the sake of this interview, let us hold the general belief that we are in the fourth republic. The first republic was new without much experience and knowledge of democracy. It was midwifed by young, inexperienced nationalists majorly in their 20s and 30s. Tribal sentiment was strong and colonial influence was deep and Nigeria was still very much tied to the apron string of her imperial lords. There were dearth of intellectual and economic resources in the first republic with so much odds piled against the leaders; but to their eternal legacy, they were able to achieve so much with the meagre resources at their disposal.
The fourth republic has no excuse for failure, not with the advantage of experience: learning from the first, second, and third republics. The fourth republic also has an advantage of knowledge, as the depth of information and ease of access to information it has far outweighs that of the first. The current stupendous wealth of Nigeria both in terms of human and natural resources can never be compared with that of the first republic. The current republic also has the advantages of information technology and other innovations in transportation, housing, food production et cetera that should make governance easier but the performance so far has not matched up with all these advantages.
What we have now is a bastardised, fake, manipulative federal system which must be reviewed if we are to develop as a nation.
What would you describe as the achievements of the legislature despite its criticism?
Members of the 8th Senate and their House of Representatives counterpart have been very much in the news and their actions have been used both covertly and overtly to assess the legislative arm. The current legislative arm adjudges itself to be the highest performing in the history of Nigeria by passing the highest number of bills, clearing the highest number of petitions, passing several anti-corruption bills, finishing constitution review process in record time and passing highly impactful bills such as: Petroleum Industry Governance Bill and Made in Nigeria Amendment Bill. Professor Itsey Sagay, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and other Nigerians have however indicted the current legislative arm from several angles. Recently, some men stormed the senate to steal the mace. The IGP has consistently snubbed the senate. There are several cases of certificate scandals, budget padding, outrageous allowances and solidarity with their accused members.
The three arms of this particular government have been very combative, with the legislatures taking the lead. More should have been done in terms of promulgating laws to boost the economy, enhance security, and ensure more transparency in government and fight corruption. Series of indictments have overshadowed whatever achievement made; Nigerians would have loved bills that would have an immediate impact on their lives. My presidency will ensure a very harmonious relationship with other arms of government with our focus being the greatness of Nigeria as a nation and Nigerians as a people.