Restructuring panacea for Nigeria’s problems —Olabode George

August 26, 2020
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A former deputy national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and member, Board of Trustees (BoT) of the party, Chief Olabode George, in this interview with BOLA BADMUS, speaks on some national issues, including the forthcoming govershorship election in Edo State.

President Muhammadu Buhari spoke about his resolve to rejig the security architecture of the country. As a former military governor, how would you react to this?

We have heard the president declaring his readiness to rejig the security architecture. Everybody is looking at the issue of security as if it is about physical security- banditry, robbery and cultism, no! Security covers everything. There is food security; there is job security and then, the physical security. What leads to physical insecurity of the land is, lack of employment, lack of food on the table and of course, some people don’t even have money in their pocket. If you have a job, you guarantee the physical security; if you don’t have a job, you are subject to do anything to survive. So, let us go and holistically analyse the issue of insecurity. Insecurity of the land is not just about physical security. Some people have turned to banditry because they don’t have food to eat; they are hungry and, therefore, they are angry.

Let’s look at it from that perspective; don’t let us just take one aspect. What is causing banditry; what is making people to go into banditry? It didn’t start yesterday. The northern part of the country had been the most peaceful area before. I have been on the road very many times from Kebbi to Sokoto; Sokoto to Zamfara; Zamfara to Katshina and from Kano then to Kaduna, it was a free flow. Suddenly, what has happened? Then all over the entire country too, there have been kidnapping; killing of people looking for food to eat. The essence of governance is to provide for the people, ameliorate their suffering, which means we should find out what is making these people to join cult groups. It is for survival. So, food security is number one. That means the economic activity of the country must be to support people who have no means to survive.

There are millions of graduates of higher institutions that have no job. And you hear the discussions at the Senate and the House of Representatives, from all the committees that are beaming searchlight into the billions and trillions of money they are being thrown about without getting to the people. What is the essence of governance? Is it not to use the resources of our land to the benefit of the people? Period! So, the lawmakers should not be thinking that the solution to insecurity is that we will go and buy more guns and aircraft to bomb insurgents and bandits. If you bomb them, have you provided food for the people? Have you provided enough employment for them? It does not resolve the problem.

What will you suggest as another approach to address insecurity in the country, as some people are also talking about community policing, among others?

There is no way we can continue the management of the security of this country from one source; it cannot work. We have a much bigger country; the population is exploding, around 200 million and the total number of policemen we have is 400,000 and controlled by just one chief in Abuja. It’s not possible. Even, the British who brought the system to control from one source, now have the London Metropolitan Police. When you go to Midland, you have a separate one. So, they broke it down because policing is local. Is it a policeman from another tribe that cannot speak your language that will be looking after you in your locality? What is he doing there? So, it’s not a matter of buying more weapons or what have you! You can buy it to equip the troops. Who are they fighting? This one is not a conventional war; it is guerilla warfare and because it’s guerilla warfare, it means that our approach and tactics must be different because the people we are fighting are the same Nigerians.

So what is driving them back? I want to challenge anybody because I also went to the United States War College. They taught us about security. I also taught at the Nigeria National War College, so what are we talking about here? Let’s use that knowledge. The tribal war drum is getting higher and higher. Let’s forget about partisan politics now; I am not interested in that. It is our nation. Unless we go back to restructuring of the country, things may not improve. And mind you, the restructuring they are talking about is not to dismember Nigeria; it is to make Nigeria work.

America as big as it is, though it is about 240 million people, is not just only one person that is ruling the place. The governors have their role; the mayors have their role. In their local governments, they have the police; in the states, they have the police and of course, at the national level, they have the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which is to address crimes and criminalities in that country. In Britain today, you have the Metropolitan Police, and within other regions, they have other security outfits to control the areas.  And they use modern equipment, modern technology to monitor their people against crimes. They also have cameras all over the place.

A former governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayo Fayose, was quoted to have said the PDP governorship candidate for the election in Edo State, incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki, will lose at the poll. What do you have to say on the issue?

I feel very troubled with the comment made by former Governor Ayo Fayose on Obaseki, where he said that he would not win the election in Edo State. I want to talk as a very senior member of the Board of Trustees of the South-West PDP. I want to say I dissociate myself from that statement and that no member of the South-West of the PDP is in agreement with the statement. We are completely in support of the candidature of Obaseki; we are happy to have him in the party and by the grace of God, and the support of the good people of South-West, he will win. We are completely opposed to that statement. It was a statement from his own mind. Whatever is the purpose, wherever that is coming from, for me, that does not show a commitment and a concerned member’s attitude of the PDP.

When the party, its national managers and other leaders have decided that Obaseki is our candidate, we all must support him. That is loyalty to the party. We want to advise him (Fayose) to take a deep breathe because life is not a straight line. I am advising him as an elderly person, who has been of help to him to rise to the level of being the governor of Ekiti State that enough of this brigandage; enough of this nonsense. He should go and cool off.

Look at the kind of statement he is even making that if he becomes president, he would jail former President Olusegun Obasanjo. In Yoruba land, such is an abomination, you don’t talk ill of people who are much older than you; people, who are old enough to be your father or mother, you cannot. Let him read the Bible, let him go to the Book of Proverbs, you must respect your father and mother, you must not do anything to disrespect your father and mother otherwise the cause on you would be perpetual, no matter what.

As a believer in God, you leave everything to God; you let everything pass. It is not right for you to be insulting or casting aspersions. I know him (Fayose); he will never allow anybody younger than him to insult him. We know the attitude he has against people who are against him in Ekiti State and to now bring it and say Obaseki will not win, Obaseki will not do this; Obaseki will not do that, it is wrong. Obaseki is carrying the flag of the PDP; he is the candidate of our party. Does Fayose know what they call loyalty? I am talking as a senior BoT member of the PDP in the South-West. For the past 22 years, I have been a member and we will not allow anybody destroy what we have built for the past years. Never!

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