By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Hon. Oluseye Oladejo, the Publicity Secretary of Lagos State All Progressives Congress, APC, in this interview speaks on insecurity, creation of operation Amotekun, the Indepedent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and election violence among others.
His take on Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s position on Amotekun
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s position on the matter was very explicit. I think some people misunderstood the situation when some people wanted to leverage on his silence on Amotekun.
A worthwhile leader will not speak up on an issue when it is still germinating; a leader will need to wait till the fullness of time before expressing an opinion.
And you will notice that when he eventually spoke, it is actually more or less everything he said they are using as a template to drive through Amotekun.
He asked them to follow the rule of law, the procedure, asking the attorney general not to heat up the polity, to meet the stakeholders, and asking the stakeholders to be consistent about state security, that there is no template for regional policing.
Amotekun is a child of circumstance. For various reasons, there are lots of security challenges here and there and it has been identified that the more localised the security system is, the better for us.
Criminals are not ghost, they live within the people. So, if the security apparatus will survive, it will involve a lot of local intake. I believe if all the governors in South-West are united on the issue of Amotekun, it will augur well for security in the region. Amotekun personnel are not going to be in competition with other security agencies, their role is complementary.
Fear of Amotekun as an instrument to fight opponents, herdsmen
It is not true. We can all see the security challenges and as long as the security challenges are there, there is absolute need for it.
The main business of the governor is the security of lives and property of people, which he governs. Security is the pedestal on which there can be development. It is the pedestal we can talk about social infrastructure and other things. If there is upheaval out there, you won’t be here, you will rather stay in your house or in your comfort zone.
So, it is going to be very difficult and almost impossible for anybody to be able to really use Amotekun to settle personal scores. It is not targeting any tribe or anyone; the main thing is to secure lives and property and the people in the various states of the South-West.
Ability of Amotekun to perform in S’West
Security is everybody’s business. This is first time government in this region is officially putting in place something that we can call local security. In the past when we had Odua Peoples Congress, OPC, it was not a government project.
In the past, there could be pockets of vigilante groups in some places but this is the first time it is really being formalised at the level of government providing the enablement for them to be able to get the job done. It gives us cause for hope. It gives us cause to be able to have intelligence, share information.
What is important really for me is being proactive and not reactive.
It is always better to checkmate criminals before they are able to strike. I think it is cheaper and there will be no need to record unnecessary losses.
There is everything for us to be hopeful and that will also be with the collaboration of the official security agencies across board working with Amotekun and other local security operatives.
Few days ago, a leader of Miyetti Allah said South-West should forget 2023 presidency if they decide to pursue Amotekun. What is your take on such statement from a northern group?
Is Miyetti Allah the group that officially represents northern interest in Nigeria? Let me accord due respect to opinions of various groups about what should obtain in Nigeria but at the same time, it will not be right to try to blackmail or arm-twist any region about what they have decided to do to protect themselves.
If Miyetti Allah has dismissed the apparent threats to the security of lives and properties in the South-West, making those statements and turning it into politics; to say the least, is unfortunate. I think in fullness of time, all these issues will be addressed and I think it is a bit hasty to start paying attention to needless statement.
On comments by opposition parties that INEC is an extension of APC
I don’t know how they are going to reconcile that with the states APC lost and didn’t enjoy support from any quarters. There are states that we even won overwhelmingly like Zamfara and we ended up not forming government at any level.
These arguments are not consistent with what is on ground. I also have to put it on record that any time the opposition party wins at any level, especially at the Supreme Court, it is the rule of law at play; they celebrate to high heavens. But any time it is the other way round, then democracy is under threat. We need to take ourselves seriously.
Do you agree with INEC that politicians should be held responsible for election violence in the country?
I think all the parties involved; political parties, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, security agencies and everybody have to play its role. INEC should be seen to be an unbiased habitat in the process of election, security agents should be seen not to be compromised and politicians should be seen not to be desperate for power.
If we are able to strike a balance across board, election violence will be reduced and perhaps we need to change our orientation too, parents should also learn to caution their kids. Election comes and goes; life goes on.
The winner will form government; the loser will go home and plan for another day. There is no reason and it doesn’t worth it for anybody’s blood to be shed for the sake of any election.
I am totally against election violence. It is an aberration and it is not acceptable in any decent society. All the various agencies and everyone that has to do with election should be held responsible wherever there is violence in any election not just political parties.
Assessment of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration so far
The administration is very well on course. There is no denial of the intellectual and institutional experience of those on board. A good number of people making up the Lagos State government now have been around for quite sometime and they are bound to shine.
It also speaks to passion and excellence to deliver various programmes of government. The Lagos State master plan, which is all encompassing is taking on board all those issues that have been around since the inception of democracy. So, there is every reason to be hopeful. The blue light rail is back on board.
Government is paying attention to the issue of transportation; there is more attention now as a result of the fall out of the partial ban and restriction on motorcycles and tricycles, and the rest of it.
The waterways are being opened up. So, Lagosians should be rest assured that they have a government that is compassionate and determined to deliver on its mandate.
Rejection of former interim National Chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande, nomination as the chairman of the party’s reconciliatory committee by some members
A party is a group of people who have agreed on a common consensus and principles to be together to try and fight for power. APC itself was a child of necessity and if you look at the way APC came into inception, a lot of people; strange bedfellows so to speak came together.
Even if you have an association that is made up of descendant union due to the fact that all of them are relatives from the same blood, there will still be the conflicts. So these conflicts are not unexpected.
Secondly, it also points to the fact that as a party, APC, we need to manage our electoral success. For me managing electoral success is even more difficult than managing electoral failure. In electoral failure, you are already united in your failure; there is nothing to fight over.
When there is success that is time people will come with the issues of who play what roles before we were able to annex power from the former party.
My take is that we all need to give peace a chance. There have been efforts in the past about reconciliation; one led by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and the one by Senate President did not even take off; now this new one. All the gladiators need to give peace a chance because the party will need to continue to consolidate on its success.
The party need peace for us to be able to deliver on our mandates to the electorate in the course of the election, so that we will able to organise ourselves towards future elections.