Adebayo Ojo was Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice during the administration of the late Governor Abiola Ajimobi. The chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) speaks to DARE ADEKANMBI on Governor Seyi Makinde and the security issue in Ibarapaland, APC registration and other matters.
YOU are one of the strongest critics of the administration of Governor Seyi Makinde. But you recently commended the governor in an article you wrote, saying he handled the security situation in Ibarapa zone of Oyo State very well. What informed that commendation?
We must put issues in proper perspectives. I listened to Governor Makinde’s broadcast and not only that, I went further by reading excerpts of the broadcast online and also in newspapers. If you look at the totality of what he said in the broadcast, you will see that he restated the principle of the rule of law as propounded by A.V. Dicey. Governor Makinde said any resident or citizen of this country has the right to live in any part of the country as long as such a person is law-abiding. Nobody has the right to issue or serve quit notice to anyone, even the president of the country cannot do that. We all remember the Abdurrahman (Shugaba) who was illegally deported by the Shehu Shagari government in 1982. The Supreme Court nullified the deportation. If people occupy my house illegally without my authorisation, I will ask them to leave and if they refuse to do so, I will take them to court. That is what is called due process of law.
How can an individual travel to a place and ask fellow citizens to quit the place. It is never done. And Governor Makinde, in his broadcast, said crimes and criminality are not limited to a particular ethnic or tribal group. We have armed robbers and even kidnappers among the Yoruba. Look at Evans, the notorious serial kidnapper. He is an Igbo man. The people who kidnapped Akewugbagold’s twins are Yoruba. When we find out that these crimes are being committed more by people from a particular ethnic stock, we can’t criminalise all members of the ethnic group or make a blanket condemnation of them. What we should collectively do is to wage a war against criminals and their activities in our communities. This is why I commend the governor for that brilliant broadcast. Even, the Special Adviser to the governor on Security Matters and former Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Fatai Owoseni, went further to let us know that police and other security agencies have made arrest of some criminals who perpetrated crimes in Ibarapa and Oke Ogun axes and that those suspects are in police custody from where they will be prosecuted and convicted, jailed if found guilty by court. That is the way things are done in a democracy. We must never resort to self-help.
Nigerians widely commended Sunday Igboho for taking up the role of an activist by going to Ibarapa….
You know our people love miracle and believe in mob justice. In what capacity did Sunday Igboho go there? Whatever has been outlawed is illegal. The best anybody can do is to lodge complaints of criminal activities with the police or other security agencies. Then the police will move in and arrest suspects. I agree there is seeming loss of confidence by the people in the security agencies. There is also loss of confidence by the people among themselves. And because of this, a vacuum was created and this was what Igboho capitalised on. But things are not done that way. What kind of activism would you say Igboho is doing? Is any part of the state on Apartheid that we will say needs to be liberated? We must never encourage mob justice or jungle justice. Igboho is lucky. If the people he went to meet in Ibarapa were more powerful than he is, we would have been talking about another thing now. Violence can’t solve any problem. It will only breed counter violence and this will not be good for the system. If there are lice on my head, will you pour petrol to get rid of them? I know Igboho very well. He should exercise caution and not allow people to goad him on to commit crime against the law. He should be careful so that he himself won’t become a suspect and be made to face the full weight of the law. The story of the man in Benue State, Terwase Akwaza, is still fresh in our memory.
The wheel of justice grinds too slowly in the country. It takes a whole lot of time to get cases concluded in the courts….
Yes, it may grind slowly, but there will be a logical conclusion at the end of such cases. There is no alternative to the rule of law or constitutionality.
So, you don’t agree with those who hold the view that Governor Makinde did not act swiftly enough and may pay dearly for it in 2023?
I don’t agree with those who hold such view. That is pure speculation. The governor has handled the matter systematically. I read his speech and I gave kudos to him. You know I am not a PDP person, neither am I a fan of Seyi Makinde. But on the Ibarapa matter, I commend him for doing so well.
Some people will wonder why an APC chieftain is saying this about a PDP governor.
I am being factual. I will always stay on the side of truth. I won’t say because Governor Makinde is not a member of our party, APC, I will lie against him. No, I won’t do that. Makinde demonstrated a mature way of doing things. He has been cool, calm and collected. He has been very sensible. I salute him on that matter.
You said in one of the things you wrote that Governor Makinde is following the intellectual politics of former Governor Abiola Ajimobi (of blessed memory). What did you mean by that?
My leader and late former governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, was deep intellectually. He was urbane and suave. He would have taken the same route that Governor Makinde took on Ibarapa. Would Ajimobi have invited Igboho to go and fight somebody somewhere when the police and other security agencies are there? You don’t use thuggery to solve brigandage. Two wrongs will never make a right. This is not a matter of negative plus negative in science. Were Ajimobi to be governor now, he would not have condoned Igboho going to Igangan to send non-Yoruba out of the place. He would have invited police and other to go in and arrest those perpetrating crimes there.
As a chieftain of APC, what’s your take on the ongoing registration/validation of membership nationwide? Chief Bisi Akande and others have spoken against it, saying it is needless.
Even if our economy is buoyant, I agree with Baba Akande that the exercise is unnecessary. We had the last membership registration in 2014. And even that one, up till date, we have not been given membership cards. After registration in 2014, they said they would get across to us for the cards and up till today, nothing like that has been done. How come we are not embarking on another exercise? Members have the right to join the party at their wards and this should be a continuous exercise. I have issue with the use of the word revalidation. We were not given cards for the last exercise and yet we are being asked to come and revalidate our membership. You don’t put something on nothing and expect it to stand. So, what are we revalidating? You don’t revalidate something that is not in existence. If they are saying we should all go for fresh registration as members, I agree. And they must be bold enough to admit that they have lost the records for the last one.
In the golden era of the progressives, members of their parties, Action Group (AG), Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) paid membership dues monthly to run the party. But these days, it is moneybags who are hijacking the parties and running them as they likes. Do you see APC setting a new template with the current exercise?
Recently, we were trying to clean up our family compound in Idi Aro and while we were doing that, I saw my late Dad’s membership card with the light symbol. The card contains his monthly contributions. That was the way parties were run in good democracies. It was General Ibrahim Babangida who destroyed party autonomy in the country with the creation of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and National Republican Convention (NRC). When did it become the right of a government to establish political parties? He even appointed chairmen and secretaries for those parties. The late General Sani Abacha also did the same thing when he was there. That was the beginning of moneybags coming in to hijack the parties. Today, it is the big ones that are controlling the parties and not ordinary members. When people complain about how their parties are being run, I always ask them what their contributions were to the parties financially.
APC should go back to those good old days when members would contribute money to run the party. It is in the constitution of the party and other parties that members should contribute financially to the running of the parties. We all belong to various clubs and we pay dues either monthly or annually in those clubs. It is when all members pay their dues to the parties that they can collectively own the party and no longer be at the mercy of the moneybags. The jeun soke politics we are practicing now will not help us. The contributions to parties by members should be compulsory.
Do you see any difference between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC)?
There is no difference. When some people say they are progressives, I ask them to tell us who among us has not made progress in their life. Surviving the year 2020 is a progress and those who witnessed 2021 are by implications progressives. The parties are not based on ideology. There are good people in PDP and there are bad people in APC. Just as saints exist in PDP, there are also saints in APC. Parties are mere platforms to get power, such that if one platform is not available to one politician, he can use another platform. When PDP was not available to Olusegun Mimiko, he used the Labour Party.
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