Deceit, betrayal bane of developmental politics —Oniyangi

Mallam AbdulAzeez Yinka-Oniyangi was the governorship candidate of the New Progressives Movement (NPM) in the last elections in Kwara State. In this interview, he shared his experience in politics, among other issues. DAPO FALADE brings the excerpt.


What triggered your interest in politics?

Honestly, looking back I found it difficult to pin down a particular reason or explain the journey into politics. And I have never been advised by anyone to do so. I think, it is a divine calling. As much we tried to avoid politics, we discovered that we have a lot of things to offer from my career. I am eminently qualified to aspire to that coveted seat and age is also on my side.


How would you describe your experience in politics?

I will be honest with you, it was a wonderful experience and I keep telling people that there is a whole lot of difference between being part of the game and being an onlooker. If you are not part of the game, you will not really understand the process. If you are actively involved, then you will know the nitty-gritty of the game, rather than doing permutations.


Do you have any regrets whatsoever in your brief spell in politics?

No, although my involvement in politics comes with a lot of sacrifices and intrigues. But one thing we never sacrifice is our integrity. Even when we were faced with pressure to stepping down for a certain candidate or forming an alliance with a certain political force, we stood firm and maintained our focus and we were loyal to our party and supporters. Loyalty is a two-way thing; when your supporters are loyal to you, you must reciprocate that good gesture by not letting them down. We put our hat in the ring; though we lost, we maintained our integrity. And this does not mean that we are hanging the boots. We shall continue to watch the game and if God spares our lives till the next elections, we are going to take it off from where we stopped.


The big challenge of Nigerian democracy today is lack of space for honest people, most especially in the major political parties. How do you think we can overcome the challenge?

Well, Nigeria is not ripe for that. But one needs to experiment; if you don’t plant a seed, it cannot grow. For me, it is a matter of tenacity, perseverance, hard work and continuous enlightenment for the people. I know someday it will happen. Like I said, the experience was awesome. Many people did not believe we could go that far. Without getting anything from anybody, we did the little we could do. What I would say is that the good people should not quit the stage because of deceit and act of betrayers and betrayals; they should continue to try their luck. What the situation was five years ago is not what it is now; there is lot of opportunities.

Deceit is one of the challenges of our political system in Nigeria and I think we got a fair share of that during our political journey. But for me, I think those are part of the things we experience in life and that doesn’t change who you are, anyway. You must continue to be who you are, being patient, forthright and upright because the ability to serve is part of religion for me. The experience was exciting but not all moments and I shall continue to learn more about human beings.


As an industrialist, how would you describe the business environment in the country?

I think one of the challenges arose from the problem of multiple taxation. Even foreign investors don’t like to come here. Government needs to centralise the tax structure so that it becomes friendly to investors because if you continue to pay all manner of taxes to the various government agencies, you will be left with nothing at the end of the day. Yes, I understand the quest for revenue drive by the government but we can synchronise all these into limited numbers. Everybody just wants to have a fair share of the money; they don’t care whether the business is flourishing or is having teething problem. All these affect the economic development of any country. Another question we should ask is whether we are getting the rewards for all these taxes. By this, I mean the basic amenities that make business work like electricity, water, good roads and secured environment. But you pay taxes and you don’t even know where the money is going into.

Again, the control is not there. The one that worries me most is the attitude of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS). If you travel from Abuja to Lagos, you can imagine the number of Customs check-points you will see on the road. The question I keep asking is: why is it that these men were looking for the cars smuggled into the country through the borders the Customs claimed to man? If you illegally allow vehicles into the country, due to the irresponsibility of some officers, why harassing people on the highway? It is bizarre and I think they are over-staffed because somebody is not doing something right at the point of entry. You now see Customs everywhere; I think they are not supposed to be seen in the hinterlands.