Capitalists and politicians are our problems in Nigeria —Comrade Sanda
Comrade Laoye Sanda is a socialist and an Africanist who has always fought on behalf of the masses alongside other notable human rights’ fighters of the olden days. The former lecturer spoke with Bode Adewumi on the state of the nation, the Operation Amotekun in the Southwest among other issues. Excerpts:
You recently organized a program in honour of one of your late leaders, Comrade Ola Oni, who died 20 years ago; can you briefly speak on this?
Yes, anybody who is very knowledgeable about the political terrain of this country since 1950 cannot but have heard the name of comrade Ola Oni, he was about the leading socialist in Nigeria. When you say socialism, the relevance is that, Britain that colonised Nigeria, France and other places, they are advanced capitalist countries. What they planted here is a backward capitalism, a colony which is to serve them; you know the superior power owns the colony. So whatever was here until our national leaders of various sorts achieved independence for us in 1960 is to exploit Africans.
Even up till now, because our economy is dominated by foreign companies, although they brought technology, but principally, they are in Africa, in Nigeria for profit, there is no business which is for charity. That brings us down, because the government that has succeeded in 1960, they don’t have sufficient funds to develop Nigeria, up till the time we are talking about now. More than 80 per cent of our resources are with the foreign countries because they brought us technology, they own the economy, so when you deduct 80 from 100, you have 20 percent left.
Our own patriotic industrialists, Dangote and co and others do not control more than 20 percent, so it is only the 20 percent left that all these politicians since 1960s have used to develop you and me. Therefore it means, things can never go right until we reset that pattern of ownership and profit sharing that is the major proposition of comrade Ola Oni. That until we go socialist, and it is so evident because every day, unemployment is increasing, currency is weak, we are foreign dependent, we are debt burdened and all these things, our universities and polytechnics are second, third rate. So socialism is the only way out, if Africans love themselves, and that is what comrade Oni was championing.
That is on one hand, the second one is that, since Abacha era, when it appeared that the northerners, people like Babangida who negated the will of all Nigerians, a very free and fair election that was applauded throughout the world and he carried that on, until Abacha also came onto the scene, that was when we have this NADECO thing and comrade Ola Oni was about the third leader, Adesanya and then Baba Ajasin. So, he canvassed socialist and ethnic struggle for the good of all Nigerians and he was a very brilliant Maxist lecturer at the University of Ibadan.
Between 1917 and 1950, Russia had become the second world power because they blocked that hole. Very recently too is China, the socialists got to China in 1949 and again, they reversed that 80:20 ratio, brought that 80 to the 10 per cent of the government, it became 90 and China is the second world power now. So, what are the third world and Africans waiting for? What do we produce in Nigeria? We are a dependent country. If we want to rub shoulders with the advanced capitalist countries, we must abandon capitalism; we are talking about valuing that 80:10:10. But their agents, who are the leaders of the NPN, SDP and the today’s APC and PDP are our problems, capitalists and our politicians are our problems. We are not afraid, we shall confront them, because that is the way out, or else we will remain underdeveloped.
Your association in which you are the president, ‘Egbe Ifokanbale Yoruba’ what is it all about?
You will learn that during Abacha’s time, when soldiers descended on Yoruba people, in negation of Abiola’s election and other things, a lot of Yoruba radical active Yorubas were alarmed that it is about time we raised all these issues of ethnic nationalities against Nigeria. That no ethnic group should be allowed to dominate and oppress others, after all we say we are a federation and a federating unit. Increasingly, it seems some groups in the north, that it is about time that we become stronger in our resistance against this ethnic oppression. They are using the military to suppress other ethnic democratic aspirations of Nigerian people. So, we teamed up, the students and the labour of that time to demand the release of Abiola and a new constitutional conference and so on and so forth.
You know the whole world was behind the Yorubas at that time that gave their man his mandate. So, we thought we should be more restive and then that national conference of 2014, where a lot of good people in Nigeria gathered and made provision for several things to be more democratised, our president came and said it is not necessary, he pocketed it. Up till now, he has not made any point that before 2023 there will be another national conference and things are worsening.
Our association is fashioned after those groups that fought military men of those days because we are here to defend the Yoruba people.
Are you looking at that route with this new outfit, Operation Amotekun?
We are fully in support of it, that is why I am taking you back to history, that the true federation, it is the constituting unit that take police powers, we had it in those three regions, I am telling you the fact, go and crosscheck Nigeria’s history. That is why history is very important, when one of our friends, Obasanjo cancelled history, it was a tragedy. There is nothing anybody does in this world that does not have a history. So, go and check the history of first republic, there was regional police, in fact Buhari even promised it. Now things are getting worse and they now expect the Yoruba, Itshekiri or Tiv people to fold their arms and not do anything? In America, there is nothing that concerns the federal government with police. This is not to say that they endanger the national security, no! Even when we had regional governments, there were divisions of labour between them and the federal police. It was Gowon’s coup that abolished the three regional police, go and crosscheck this.
So, it is a very good development and we are fully in support of it. And that is why again, that national conference is necessary. Most of those who are doing Nigeria federation let them go and study countries that practice federalism. America is a typical example of a country that practice federalism. Take local government autonomy, it is rubbish. In America, go and check their history, they have never had any America president intervening in local government affairs, it is a regional state matter and it was like that until 1966, even until Obasanjo’s time.