By Ola Ajayi
Dr. Omololu Olunloyo, former governor of Oyo State, could best be described as an encyclopedia of knowledge. About four rooms in his Molete residence have been converted to library with books on various disciplines. In this interview, he spoke on the state of the nation, Nigeria at 59 and the way forward for the country among others.
AT 59, is this where Nigeria should be now?
No, because 1960 was a great year of hope for us. There was evidence that it was a year of hope. We thought we would be able to improve this country. I got my Ph.D in 1960 with Professor Wole Soyinka. I think we just lost it along the way. The First Republic was better than the Second Republic, the second was better than the third and the third is already showing itself to be better than the fourth.
More specifically sir, what can you say is the problem of the country?
The problems are greed, corruption, laziness and I will say, without any doubt, that leadership and followership. Both the leaders and followers are corrupt. When you have bribery in a society, both the giver and taker of the bribe are both guilty. We never knew it would be this bad. If you look at the country’s map, you cannot pinpoint a centre and draw a circle of 100 miles without finding rivers, lush forest, various natural resources not to talk about our vast human resources.
Many of our citizens who have left the shores of our country to other countries have performed wonderfully there. While we are still practising low level politics, you can see that things are getting more and more confused and I am sorry about it. Some of us are not partakers of this corruption. We have nothing and we are not regretful. I can say this boldly.
Low level politics
When Ribadu of the EFCC, probed the First Republic, he found three of us Yahaya Gusau (Minister of Agriculture), Adekunle Ajasin and I to have served the country without corruption. I am exceptional in one thing. I have been in six ministries, one TSA, five confabs, 55 parastatals. I have been on the board of many companies. All research centres have been under me but I was pushed out because I was not in support of corruption. I am ashamed of the way the country has been and is being run.
You mentioned corruption as being a problem of this country. How long are we going to sing this? Chief Olusegun Obasanjo fought this menace…
He didn’t achieve much. Many people suggested to him that we could solve the problem of NEPA using the European model but he didn’t give us a chance. He tried his best. He certainly wanted a third term but it was not worthwhile. Thanks to Ken Nnamani. He is a tough man that can’t be pushed aside. He has more prestige outside this country than in the country.
Obasanjo made a few mistakes, putting Bola Ige in charge of electricity. A man who was an Arts student. This country’s institutions have been ruined. At present, in my opinion, this country is on a free fall because the president said with his mouth that if his ministers have a problem they should go through the cabal. That is wrong. They should have access to him all the time. If they can’t access him, they should meet the vice president.
One of the focal points of this administration is corruption. Do you think it has achieved much?
What this administration has been doing is selective punity. They have been using selective punitive measures. Even those who are guilty of corruption have a standard strategy. Some of these politicians are well known, they hide under the canopy of the ruling party and they have protection but that is blackmailing the country and it is not good at all. Corruption is bad, islamization is bad, Fulanisation is bad.
Do you see all these things in the country?
I see them. Let me tell you something, I don’t think the federal character is good for this country. But I have a feeling that the Igbo are being neglected in all the calculations that are going on. The Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba are followed in competition by the Ijaw. I don’t think the Yoruba have the moral right to push the Igbo aside. There are excellent men in Igbo land. Refined and highly educated, like Emeka Anyaoku and Philip Asiodu. They have contributed to the growth of this country. If the Igbo are not given the next chance, I think it will lead to the break up of this country.
On the agitation of Hausa/Fulani to hold on to power in 2023
I don’t understand the rationality behind that. They have been in power since the inception of Independence and military regimes. There are four main tribes. Why can’t other ethnic tribes be president?
You’re not in support of rotational presidency? Some say it will be good for us
Yes, it will not bring out the best, but how would the people who are agitating for it know the best is from their area? Why can’t the best come from the South-South or South-East? The Hausas/Fulani and Yoruba have been conspicuously monopolizing it.
Is it that others are afraid of Igbo?
How are they afraid of them? Let us go into history. Out of the four major tribes, who was the first to threaten with secession? It was the Northerners on March 31, 1953. Anthony Enahoro never moved an Independence motion as widely reported. Ladoke Akintola moved the Independence motion.
Solution to leadership problem
Look at Nkrumah in Ghana, Mandela in South Africa. It depends on the quality of the people. We have to teach our people leadership. Leaders are not manufactured. We need to teach our children the right things.
There was a time we had National Development Plan, Seven-point agenda and several others. What led to their failure?
They were not implemented. The constitution has the principal objectives of the state. We have never been honest. Anything we do, we do it for the motive of profit for our ethnic group.
Mere geographical expression
This is not a country but a collection of various tribes. That is why some one said Nigeria is a mere geographical expression. We have not started building a nation. That is why if someone criticizes them, they shut him up immediately. Look at Sowore, he called for a revolution but they took him too seriously. Law is different from the enforcement of a judgement. You have to go to court and ask for the enforcement so you can reap the fruit of your labour.
Can we then say that the Federal Government is right for not releasing him?
They are not right in anything. I am saying you have to enforce a judgement. Enforcement is different. That is what happened in Ibadan. Tokyo won at the highest court but they never allowed him enjoy the fruit of his victory. Sowore is a small fry. How many people know him? What percentage did he get in the election? They took him too seriously as a student activist. They engage in hot rhetoric but they can’t actualize what they are saying.
Prof. Adebanji Akintoye was nominated by some groups as Yoruba leader. Will he be widely accepted?
Widely accepted by who? Is he a politician? Does he have the experience? I don’t think he possesses enough experience. There is no process of being nominated. The post doesn’t exist. He doesn’t have the experience of Chief Ayo Adebanjo. They are making it a statutory post.
What is your message to the country at 59?
We need foreign assistance. We need to take better care of the economy. Many people are suffering. It is on this that the future generations will have hope of a better life. People who are at the helm of the affairs of the country should know that they are serving the people and not themselves. People are leaving the shores of this country because of the current state of the country. Nigeria will thrive if we can get a good leadership. We cannot thrive under tribalism and religious jingoism.