Bisi Akande Is A Reckless Person, Speaks Without Thinking —Falae
(Serialization of Interview of Chief Olu Falae, by Hakeem Gbadamosi in Tribune Online)
By HAKEEM GBADAMOSI On Jan 2, 2022
What can you think to be the reasons behind Akande’s claim or do you see it as a deliberate attack on you and other Yoruba leaders at this particular period?
Well, only Akande can answer that question. But I just know that Akande is a very reckless person. He will just say anything without thought. Without thinking about the consequences, he will just say it like an irresponsible person. That is how he speaks. That was why I said I was not going to comment about Akande. I don’t want to lower myself to his level.
Chief Akande also said you were being decorated by General Babangida into politics. What’s your view on this?
I don’t know what decorated into politics means. It has no meaning in English. Only Akande can tell you what it means, but I can only speculate. It can mean one of two things. It is either he [Babangida] sponsored me into politics… Now, let us look at that. I will not go into any details but I want to say here and now that the first set if people who invited me and said that I should run for president was a group of three national leaders, namely: the late Papa Adekunle Ajasin; Chief Solomon Lar and General T.Y Danjuma. The three of them invited me to the flat of Dr. Debola Ajasin, Papa Ajasin’s son who was my junior at Igbobi College. The three of them invited me one night to his flat in Lagos University. It was Papa Ajasin who asked me to come. When I got there, I found the two other leaders with him and they said to me, we are leaders of the Progressive Movement; we are trying to form a Progressive Party. They said they have a problem because all of them had been banned from participating in politics and they are looking for a credible presidential candidate and that they would love to ask me that if they formed the party, if it was registered and then invited me to come and be their presidential candidate, would I agree to run? I said well, I have not made up my mind. I said when I was leaving the bank, it was on secondment with the expectation that I would return to the bank at the end of my tenure. That was my plan. But, what they have said, I would think about it. Two of the three men are dead, but thank God, General T.Y Danjuma is still alive. So, if there is any group that invited me to politics, it was that group: Papa Ajasin, Solomon Lar and General Danjuma. Nothing to do with Babaginda at all.
In any case, Akande must have lost his memory by not remembering that it was Babangida who disqualified me from the presidential race and banned me from further participation in the primaries. Is that the act of a sponsor or supporter? Let Akande answer that question.
How will you rate Buhari’s administration in 2021 and your expectations from him in 2022?
All Nigerians have been living under Buhari’s regime. We all know what it has been like; I don’t need to tell you. It has been a very difficult time. Security has never been as bad as this in our entire history. Nigerians have never been this divided. In fact, we should look for another term to describe the near-war situation we are going through. When people were voting for him, the expectation from him as a General, uncompromising man of discipline, was that within months he would finish off Boko Haram and we would all live in peace. But the opposite has been the case and everything else depends on security. You have to be alive and well to know that there is something called education. That you can even eat and wear clothes, you have to be alive and well and that depends on security. Security has been in a complete shambles. If a saint becomes president tomorrow, how is he going to start? Is it with Boko Haram, with bandits or the herdsmen? Where is he going to start from?
I saw on social media that before the Fulani herdsmen left Ekiti area, some boys had understudied them and they have now become graduated kidnappers. So, this is the legacy of this administration. It has been a complete crisis.
People of my age and status cannot live in their homes in any part of the North. Most of them now are hiding in Abuja, including some traditional rulers. It is terrible. I know Buhari would want it to be otherwise, but it is not otherwise. It is the way it is.
I want to take this opportunity to thank our own governor in Ondo State, Arakunrin Akeredolu. In the area of security, he has been fantastic; he is a true son of the land. Soon after he became governor, we had a meeting in this room and the only matter I discussed with him was security. I used my kidnap to illustrate the very serious situation. I didn’t know it was going to get much worse. I pleaded with him to talk to his colleagues in the South-West to do something about the security situation, that security is fundamental to any other thing. I’m not claiming that because of that advice he did what he did. But it is a historical fact that we had that meeting and I made that plea. It is also a historical fact that he played a leading role in the creation of Amotekun. There was a stage some of the governors appeared to be wavering and hesitant, but Akeredolu was firm all the way and because of my appreciation of what he was doing, when the House of Assembly was having a hearing on the Amotekun law, I went there to give them political and moral support and to strengthen their backbone by saying to them that they do not need to go to Abuja to seek permission before they could give Amotekun police powers, because it is inherent in anything called government elected by the people whether at the local level, state level or national level or regional level, any of the organisation elected by the people and called government has an inherent power invested by the votes of the people to make laws that will be valid and to implement them.
In the colonial period and post-independence period, regional government had forestry laws which enabled forestry officer to arrest anybody felling logs illegally and also enable them to prosecute those people either directly by themselves or by sending them to the Ministry of Justice. In other words, contained in that law was evidence that the regional government, the state government has always had the power of arrest through the forestry officers and prosecution through the state Ministry of Justice. So, it is the same state government. Whether you want to use that power now for Amotekun, just create it and pass it. It is already being used from the colonial period. I told them this and I believed that helped to clarify the situation.
Akeredolu was also the first to commission the first batch of trainees. Again, to show my support for his effort I was present at the passing out parade. I don’t usually go to such but to show my special support and then again, when they were going to pass the anti-open grazing law, they sent the draft to me, they passed it. Although, the Miyetti Allah and herdsmen boasted that they will not obey the law that they are Nigerians and Ondo State is part of Nigeria, that they have every right to do what they like, since the law was passed, I have not seen on single cattle or Fulani from here to my farm. I go almost everyday for the past four, five months. They have disappeared. Let them come back and break the law. The enforcement agents will arrest them, take them to court and send them to prison. So all in all, I think Governor Akeredolu has done a very good work. And the security he is enforcing in the state capital right now encourages people to relax during this new year period.
As an elder statesman, what will be your advice to the gladiators preparing to contest one seat or the other in 2023?
My advice is that no election should be conducted until and unless some fundamental amendments are made. I’m not saying that they should do the full restructuring that I have been advocating, but a few fundamental amendments, particularly in the area of security and how elections are conducted and transmitted. My take is that whatever election is conducted, the way things are, if they are allowed to continue till 2023, it cannot be credible. It may not even be possible physically. You remember when they were going to conduct the Anambra governorship election, how many troops and policemen were posted there. Can you send that level of policemen and soldiers to all the 36 states conducting election on the same date? The answer is no.
In any case, is election held under such military situation credible? Is that free? Is that democratic? In my view, no credible election or transparent election can be held the way things are in Nigeria as of today. If you go to Zamfara, people are being kidnapped everyday. About 120 people were slaughtered in Sokoto State. People coming from Abuja to Kaduna are not safe.
Someone told me that no credible election can be conducted in at least 23 states as of today. If the present trend continues, it may be in 30 states. I’m hoping that election will be peaceful in the South-West which has always been the most peaceful part of Nigeria. I don’t know if there are cultural and spiritual reasons for that, but that is the fact. If there is a problem in the North, they come here; problem in the East, they will come here. So, if elections are not possible in 30 states out of 36, what are the gladiators gladiating after?
(……………………. to be continued)