No Alternative To Restructuring Of Nigeria – Raheem | Independent Newspapers Limited
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No Alternative To Restructuring Of Nigeria – Raheem

Posted: Jun 27, 2016 at 4:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Comrade Toyin Raheem, a former Lagos State House of Assembly aspirant is now aspiring to the position of chairman in Orile-Agege Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Lagos State in the forthcoming local government election. In this interview with AUGUSTINE ADAH, he spoke on restructuring and other issues. Excerpts:

There is a lot of clamour for restructuring of the country; do you think it is justified at this time?

People should not shy away from truth and fact. The need for the reconstruction of the country cannot be compromised. It is long overdue because it all started right from first republic when leaders like late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa and Chief Obafemi Awolowo were all in support of the restructuring which gave rise to the call for sovereign national conference later. The essence of restructuring or sovereign national conference is to allow different components that make up the country come together and discuss how we are going to exist together as a country. You remember that in Niger-Delta, we had militancy until late President Umar Yar’Adua came up with amnesty programme which to a large extent reduced the level of militancy in the region but on a whole it did not completely reduced the crisis in the area.  That is why when President Muhammadu Buhari came to power last year, a lot of people started clamouring for the restructuring of the country.  Why the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) wants to secede and be an independent nation and all other groups in the country, it is an indication that there is need for jaw-jaw because it is better than war-war. The truth is that even if you choose the path of war-war, you would still come back to jaw at the end of the whole thing. The only solution to various agitations in the country is for us to sit down and discuss how we would live together as a country.  When people with different ethnic background and ideologies are forced to live together, there would be problem.  This country call Nigeria was forced together without considering the special needs of the components groups. Conceding to the clamour of restructuring would reduce tension and agitation by different groups in the country.
The Niger-Delta Avengers has not indicated interest in negotiating with federal government. Why do you think they continue to remain adamant?

The Niger-Delta Avengers has refused offer for negotiation by the federal government and vowed to continue their activities because the government has not told them how it intend to spend the money realised from the sale of oil derivable from their land. They should put a system in place in such a way that if for example, oil worth N50m is sold from the region, government should  assure them that about N30m would be spent to develop  the area and the remaining N20m would be used to develop other parts of the country.  But in this case now, what we have is a strong centre and weak units. Do you know that there is a law in this country that you cannot tap the natural resources in your own environment without approval from the federal government? What do you call that type of cheating?

You have not given up in aspiring leading the people, what actually motivate you every time despite your inability to make it?

In this life, if you desire anything, you must be able to pursue it until you are able to achieve your goal. Desire for political office must not be for personal interest but the desire should be to serve the people. Everybody in Nigeria know that late MKO Abiola was stupendously rich, but yet he pursued political office to be president of the country because he knew that even with his enormous wealth, there are certain decisions he cannot take.  That was why he desired to be president of the country  so that  he could take certain decisions that would benefit the common people in the society.   That reason also motivates me to aspire for an elective position endlessly. If people who understand what governance is all about are elected into the state houses of assembly or national assembly, it would go a long way in bringing positive changes in the lives of the people.  No governor can take any decision without consulting members of the state assembly or the president without seeking the approval of national assembly members.
But do you consider that some state assembly members are rubber stamp, existing to do the bidding of the executive?
That is why we always emphasized that people should vote because of the credibility of individual candidate and not party. In a situation where members of a state house of assembly are dominated by a single political party, what do you expect?   That is why when a bill is sent to a house that is populated majorly by a particular party, members would not take time to scrutinise the bill before it is passed into law. But when we have an assembly that is populated by people who are conscious and from different political parties, things would be different from what it is today. Many politicians in the country have no interest of Nigerians but that of their so call god fathers.

What role do you think INEC and federal government can play in election campaign in Nigeria?
There are a lot of roles INEC and federal government can play in ensuring transparency in electioneering campaigns in the country. There was electoral reform committee chaired by retired Justice Mohammed Uwais. It is unfortunate I don’t have the report with me here. The report stipulates how much a candidate to an election can spend in an election. It also stipulates that INEC should not only issue guidelines but must monitor what happens in all the political parties. My brother, let us not deceive ourselves, almost all political parties are guilty in this regard.

How has that affected development in the country?

It affects a lot of development.  Look at the crisis in the oil sector; why it that we don’t have funds to refurbish our refinery but political parties have money to fund elections in the country?. It means that such money was part of the money looted from the treasury by politicians in the country.