The Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu 1, a retired Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of police spoke with AKINJIDE AKINTOLA, Political Editor and JOEL OLUWAGBEMIRO on the one year anniversary of the Buhari Administration expressing optimism that things would still be better despite the current challenges in the country and other issues. Excerpts:
In a few days time, the Buhari administration will mark one year in office amidst condemnations by people that the change mantra promised by the All Progressives Congress (APC) government has not been met. What is your comment?
There is a Yoruba adage which says: ‘tita riro ni won maa n’kola, to ba jina tan, a doge’. That is, the traditional tribal marks entail a lot of pains and endurance but when the wound is healed, it becomes a celebrity. All you have to do is to cooperate with them, pray for them and if you have any useful ideas, advice; you make it known to them and if things are not supposed to be done the way they are doing it, let them know. I’m not going to dictate to any government, but I will tell them what is needed to be done. It is like the people saying they are going on strike now. The strike action is not in their best interest. I have earlier advised them not to embark on any strike. All they needed to do is to table their grievances and cooperate with the government, and probably there is a better way in which things should be done. They should not hesitate by letting the government know. What will they achieve in destruction? By destruction, they will not achieve anything; all they need is to dialogue with the government. They have some genuine people among them but the way they are going about it is not the way they should. If God backs a government, there is nothing anybody can do about it. Election was held and everybody witnessed it to be free and fair; the man has contested four years before he became President.
The anti-corruption war of the federal government is perceived to be biased by some people; according to them, the government is trying everything possible to cripple opposition parties by chasing their members with allegation of corruption?
If they have any allegation against any member of the ruling party, let them come out with their evidences and see if the person will not be prosecuted. If there is anybody in the past government who has or knows anyone in the present government that has done anything that he should face trial, let him come out with his concrete evidences. I don’t believe in telling a lie, if you lied to me once, I will distance myself from you and not have anything to do with you again. I call a spade a spade, I hate telling lies right from my youth; if they have any evidence or evidences of corruption against anyone let them come out and table it, if the person will not be prosecuted. I’m not a reservoir of knowledge but I have been saying it, by the grace of God almighty, PDP will not rule Lago State. We have some sincere and genuine people among them but many of them are after their own interests. If you want to accuse anybody of anything, it must be backed up with concrete evidences.
For sometime now, some sections of the south east have been agitating for the sovereign Biafra state, how do you see this?
Anybody can form any reasonable group, I agree with. The late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was the one who was calling for the creation of COR states like Calabar, Ogoja and River States and he was calling for a sense of belonging for them. He also said that the people from the Minority should be given chance to lead this country, hence, we started the events that led to the making of former President Goodluck Jonathan; so, there was nothing wrong with that. Man makes the rank, rank does not make the man. As a human being, you cannot predict any human being until you have seen what he has done. I was telling somebody last week, it is just very unfortunate. I heard of the opinion on the misdeeds of the last government. Jonathan may not know more than 70 per cent of it, and that is the truth.
You know, they thought PDP can rule Lagos but it is not possible. I have been saying it always, politicians don’t quarrel, they disagree to agree. They have their own ways and they don’t quarrel, they only disagree; and that is why you see them jumping from there to here, from one place to another. Many of them are not after anything, they are after what they can get, their own selfish interests and that is why they jump from one place to another. It is now left for us to decide what we want. Just like this morning, with due respect to one of my friends here, somebody was commenting on President Obasanjo; someone said to President Obasanjo that he is sorry, that he just knew that he is a human being and not a ghost. So, everybody has his own bad side. Like I have been saying, by next October, I will be 73, I retired as a Police officer 14 years ago before it pleases God to set me on the throne of my fathers. One thing I don’t like is telling lie. Like I have been telling my children, don’t tell lie, call a spade a spade. You know some people call it hypocrisy, what is hypocrisy? Tell them the truth and that is it. Like some people have been accusing the President of being a military man and he has been telling them that was then but now, I’m a civilian President. Honestly, all the things Buhari is doing now, he has been part of him right from the military era. A soldier is a soldier, I’m telling you, if a soldier is going to kill and he has removed the uniform but now wear it, you need to be patient with him for some time. The people around him as far as Sokoto should cooperate with him, work hard and pray and at the end, everything will be okay. Nigeria is a blessed country and I know at the end of the day we shall achieve success.
Lagos will be 50 next year, what will be your prayers, advice and message?
They should work harder. Lagos is the only place in Nigeria where people come across the world to live. In Lagos, it is soldier go, soldier come. By the grace of God, I’m of one of the tribes that established Lagos, no politician can buy me. For the past four governments, it has been economy oriented and developments and that is how it is supposed to be. But if you go and hide somewhere trying to get something in a mischievous way, you are deceiving yourself. Like some people are doing, some of them came to me even prostrated that they are not members of this group or that, they are looking for what to eat and that is not the way to go about it. If I should start exposing some things, you will discover that some people, when we trace them properly, they are not Lagosians.