Popular pro-democracy advocate and National President of the Campaign for Dignity in Governance, CDG, Comrade Razaq Olokoba, has urged the Kwara State governor, AbdulRazaq AbdulRahman to strive hard to sustain the peace he gave birth to when he ascended the gubernatorial throne in the state. In an interview in Lagos, Olokoba said that the call became imperative because the needless crisis within his party can erode his modest achievements and thus snowball into a state problem. He berated the All Progressives Congress, APC, leadership for not showing required political maturity in handling the crisis, regretting that the situation in the APC could affect the state negatively generally. The youthful activist also spoke on other issues of national interest, like the controversy trailing the Value Added Tax VAT, among other salient national issues. Excerpts:
As an important stakeholder in Kwara State, what is your take on the situation in the state now?
Thank you very much. There are different definitions to what the Kwara State governor, AbdulRazaq AbdulRahaman, is doing in Kwara State today. While some people are saying he is doing well, others are saying he is not doing as expected. On the assessment of his politics, fewer feel he is handling the politics very well. But the number of those saying he is not handling it well is far more than the number of those with the view that he is doing it right. And that is not good enough for him.
And for me, I just need to advise members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Kwara State that they should stop behaving like people under a spell. This goes for both thegovernor and those opposing him within the party. If care is not taken and the opposition is allowed to come back to power in the next election, what the two sides within the APC are referring to now as suffering, marginalization or discrimination would be a child play compared to what they would suffer from the real opposition.
What I am saying is that the harm that the two APC factions in the state have suffered from each other would be a child’s play compared to the pains and the trauma they would suffer in the hands of the opposition, if the opposition comes back today. And that should guide them. And if they think another government coming would treat them better than how AbdulRazaq is treating them today, I tell them, that is an illusion! And if AbdulRazaq is also thinking that he should not re-contest and let the opposition come back to face the trauma he is facing now, he would also be making the greatest mistake of his life. It would be the worse political irony, if he is thinking along that line.
Is there any formidable opposition on ground in the state presently?
There is, of course! It is even interesting to note that the opposition is becoming more nad more organized by every passing day, as against the constant fights and unnecessary disagreement rearing it’s head in the APC in the state everyday. The truth is that members of the APC in Kwara State are behaving like political toddlers. They are not getting it right at all as far as I am concerned.
As far as I am concerned, I assume they should know that there would be crisis. The formation of APC in Kwara shows that the members came from different political backgrounds. So, ahead of the crisis, they should have put in place, a crisis management mechanism. They were supposed to have an effective conflict resolution body solidly on ground, because there would be disagreement based on where every individual member came from. The governor did not suggest this, and that is disappointing. The members, who now claim to be in the opposition within the APC also, did not suggest it. And this is also disappointing!
By now, if the needful had been done, the crisis resolution body would be working. I don’t see the two factions reconciling before the election. They have gone too far in pretending that things are fine. But this is not the time for pretension. I am from Kwara State, and I know the depth of the crisis that is going on. The depth of the crisis suggests that the two factions, sadly, lack political maturity! One wonders how they could have allowed the enmity between them within the same party become irreconcilable! That is disappointing! So, the earlier they reconcile the better.
But, has the intra party within the APC affects the general peace in the state?
No, not all. But permit me to cap it all by saying this: everybody in Nigeria today goes to the market to buy peace. Peace has become a scarce commodity in the country today. Fortunately, there is peace in Kwara now. What the governor has done to bring peace on board in the state, I don’t know how he did it. Former governor, Senator Bukola Saraki, was succeeded by Abdul-Fatah Ahmed. During their tenures, there were crises and violence. And when AbdulRazaq came on board, peace started reigning supreme. How he did it, only God knows.
And to me, as an indigene, I know that, it is when there is peace that anybody can progress. And I also know that, it is when you are alive that there would be development and growth. Violence and conflict bring about deaths, disruption and disaster. It is when you are alive that you can start talking about restructuring, devolution of powers and dividends of democracy that good governance always offers us. And that the governor has been able to bring about peace is the only consolation.
So, if Bukola Saraki and his tendencies in the state are coming to sustain that peace, let them come and become the governor. We will welcome them. And if it is AbdulRazaq himself, who gave birth to the reigning peace that assures us in his manifesto that the peace would still be sustained, I can continue to promote him and say, let him remain the governor for another four years. For me now, my support would not be for this party or that party, but it would be for those who would bring happiness to the people of Kwara.
Take for instance the issue of the Value Added Tax, VAT; some states are becoming jittery now. Those states that were not hitherto taking their economy seriously are now chorusing, ‘let us be our brothers’ keepers!’ There is nothing like brothers’ keepers now. It has become a state to state survival. America would not say Mexico is in crisis and for that traumatise America to make Mexico feel fine. Lagos and Rivers states would not traumatize their states because they want Kwara State happy. Just like Donald Trump would say, America first. So, as far as Babajide Sanwo-Olu is concerned, it is Lagos first. And as far as Nyesom Wike is concerned, it is the people of Rivers first.
So, if in Kwara State, the anti-AbdulRazaq tendencies and Saraki tendencies become a Third Force that is coming to introduce a model that would put the economy of our state in order, that is what we should be looking out for. Our support would be guided by their manifesto. In the next 10, 15 or 20 years’ time, it is not going to be Eldorado and cap in hand to Abuja again. Each state must fend for itself.
So, the question now is, what is the economy model of Abdur-Razaq in the next two years? As a background that VAT is no more going to Abuja again! And before you say Jack Robinson, we are walking towards resource control. There must be economic model. And that is my concern for successive governors of Kwara State. We would ask what your economic model for the state is, because the cap in hand to Abuja would become ‘once upon a time.’ So, there must be a viable economic model from Saraki’s Third Force and from AbdulRazaq.
So, the people must be guided by their programme, manifesto and blueprint. So, whoever aspires to come on board should know that the electorate would be guided by his manifestos before voting for him.
Have you forgotten the sectional biases in Kwara State when it comes to voting?
This time, such a primordial blackmail of whichever of the senatorial district an aspirant comes from would not matter, because that is not how a nation grows. The way to make a nation grow is to put a workable programme in place. I mean the programme that would put prosperity in the lives of the people.
Singularly, the economy of California is rated among the best economies of the world and it is the seventh economy of the world today. It keeps changing; it can be fourth economy today and eleventh tomorrow. As a state, you must have a dream and realise a dream. Lagos is one of the three most cosmopolitan nations in Africa today, after Jonesburg in South Africa and Cairo in Egypt. What is Kwara State doing to be rated among the most economically advanced states in Nigeria?! All of us know that, once the economy of a nation is traumatized, morality becomes a scarce commodity. Once you see poverty moving in through the door, morality and good behaviour escape through the windows.
So, if you want to have control of the youth, you want to have security in your state, you address the economy first. What I am saying in essence is that the economy of our state, Kwara, is very important and central to us. We must not wait until we wake up one day to hear Abuja say, there is nothing we can give you again! We are going towards that gradually. So, if any governor in Kwara State is not thinking towards that scenario, he is wasting the time of the good people of Kwara.
Kwara State was created over 50 years ago. It is older than me. We should be able to put Kwara side by side with Ogun State. And there is nothing wrong if we put it side by side with Lagos. In land mass, we are about seven times bigger than Lagos State. In terms of natural resources, we are far ahead of Lagos State. So, there is no reason we cannot put it side by side with Lagos even in prosperity.
The question is how far has Kwara gone in that direction? This primordial blackmail, that has kept us motionless and refused to allow us move forward as a people, let us jettison it. If it is religion, let us say bye to it. Israel and Saudi Arabia know people can die any time; they therefore make plans that can last their countries about 450 years to come. The optimism that if we live long we shall do this or that is no longer tenable. People plan for their lives. If they talk about God, they are talking about moral.
It does not mean that you should be irresponsible as a state to your responsibility and expect the support of the people. That is the point I am making.