Renowned Human Rights and pro-democracy activist, Comrade Razaq Olokoba has given the Northern Coalition the credit for making power shift from north to south process a reality in the All Progressives Congress (APC), saying, the Coalition deserves a Trophy and medals for being the hero of the development.
In an exclusive interview with The Nigerian Xpress in Lagos weekend, Olokoba, who is the Convener and National President of Campaign for Dignity in Governance (CDG), however urged the Coalition to complete the process totally next year through the general election.
He also spoke on other issues of national interests like reason power should shift to the south-west in particular just as he warned contestants against campaign of calumny and character assassination, saying what Nigerians are interested to hear is about their plans to move the country forward as a united nation
Razaq Bamidele brings the excerpts from the interview:
What is your comment on the power shift process in the APC going by what happened in the party’s presidential primary a few days ago?
I must confess to you, the development is very consoling. And it has shown that our northern brothers in the APC are truly nation builders and should be commended for that. If there is any sector to be praised on this development, the praise should go to our northern brothers. During the APC presidential primary, the whole of the nation, no doubt, was under a kind of trauma. And just like magic, our northern brothers miraculously took away the trauma and tranquillity instantly descended on the entire country by allowing power to shift down south.
That is what we have been saying all along that, the world is ruled by alliances. And that was what called for the formation of the United Nations (UN), that if the Super Powers had stood their ground that, there would not be anything binding on them in form of check and balance, the whole world would have been in chaos by now. But today, we have the UN and other International organizations that regulate relationship among the people of the world.
And that is the example other countries of the world are following. If you go to India, the entire population of Africa is not up to the population of India. It is by alliance. They recognize the need that all of them should live as one. And that is why they chose four languages as a lingua franca. I can begin to mention other instances and examples of where alliances are entered into for peaceful co-existence of various nationalities within a single geographical space. Even Britain that is our model, they have gotten the Wale, Irish and English. They all agree to the mode of an alliance of living together.
It took us long to realise that in Nigeria that numerical strength can no longer be used as the only factor to rule the nation and the wisdom that has come over our brother in the north is highly commendable and praise-worthy. And they should sustain that. The internal mechanism that the APC used to arrive at the point we are today should not be jettisoned. They went in together and came out. We don’t know what they discussed in that kind of session. And even right on the convention ground, some of the aspirants stepped down for one of their co-contestants, Tinubu. And to say the least, that is also heart-warming and commendable. So, kudos once more for our patriotic northern brothers.
That, to me means that, we are learning fast on the political process in the country. There are still some countries in the world today that are still making mistakes despite the fact that they are 200 year democracies! But, Nigeria in less than 100 years, we are catching up fast. And that is harmony and justice.
What is other takeaway you observed at the convention?
I observed we are moving forward now. What we should consider ourselves lucky for in this nation is that the elections were not trailed by any form of bloodshed. It is not a coincidence because something was responsible for that. What was responsible for that was the calibre of the aspirants involved. In the PDP, Abubakar Atiku is tested as the country’s Vice President for eight years. That is not a joke. He would automatically have a style. He will have a pattern that ensured that they did what they did without resorting to violence. Peter Obi, the candidate of the Labour Party is also a man of peace. Then if you look at the profiles of those who came out from the APC, you would not see any one without a character worthy of emulation.
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, John Kayode Fayemi, Rotimi Amaechi and the rest of them, they all have fantastic profiles. And that was why the issues that were raised in the campaign pointed to the fact that they all wanted to discuss how to move Nigeria forward. And we want to sound a note of warning for the umpteen times that, we would not support any kind of character assassination from any contestant. We would go out in full force to campaign seriously against campaign of calumny against any other contestants.
What then are you expecting during the electioneering?
They should know that election is like a carnival where people are to be made happy. It should be like social party where people would be looking forward to the type of food to be served and all that. That is what election is all about. Issue based electioneering is what is expected like what economic model are you bringing on board what are the people’s oriented programmes are you offering us and things like that. We should be happy and excited listening to our candidates. And that is the direction we should be looking out for now.
Like talking about why Nigeria should have State Police. That is fantastic. Peter Obi is talking about an economic model that will move the nation out of depression. That is equally fantastic. Asiwaju Tinubu said he would increase the GDP by 50% and in the power sector the Megawatt would increase, decentralization of police and so on. He mentioned quite a lot of things. That is also good enough. So, what should be our question as a people to them should be how do they want to do all the promises?! That is the only time we can hold them responsible when they get to power like, Mr. President, you promised us A, B, C and D. But why are we not having the promised A, B, C and D?!
If we don’t do that, we will be taking one step forward and ten steps backward. All the glories and all the progress we had recorded would be reversed. We have to compel them to be looking at issues, discussions, promise and ideologies. That should be what we should be doing now.
Don’t you see that what happened in the APC during the primary was half way to power shift?
Of course, the outcome of the APC presidential primaries is half way to the desired power shift. To complete the other half, the general election next year must be won by a southern candidate. That I mean, the candidate of the APC, Tinubu. And I know that the view, the pattern and the understanding of our brothers in the north are getting clearer by the day about the importance of the need for power to be allowed to go round the regions. We got the message clear now that the development is not for the good of the southerners but for the good of all of us. And it is important for everybody to have a sense of belonging in this country.
If we want all the regions to look forward towards producing presidents from their regions, we must create hope. Creating hope is the panacea because it doesn’t work through mere rhetoric. Hope comes by taking practical steps. Taking practical step is doing what our northern brothers have just done now by conceding the slot to the south. So, when the entire candidates in the contest are from the south, everybody would have it in mind that, it might be me at the end of the day. Everybody will become satisfied that he has a fair game. Yes, I didn’t win the ticket, so, the next agenda would be how we are going to collectively win the election for the south.
How then did you feel when the People Democratic Party (PDP), did not pick a southern person as its candidate?
It is a pity that the PDP did not see it in that direction. And that is why the entire population in the north should see PDP’s decision as a decision that could portray the northern region as a region that doesn’t respect agreement. The decision that our northern brothers in the APC had taken is the decision that would make the southerners and the entire world to see it that our northern brothers are the people who keep promises and who can be trusted.
And since that day, I have begun to have stronger impression, complete faith in them as regards the decision they have made in the APC. I recall when I listened to the spokesman of the coalition, he said, “the way we are trained, we were trained to keep promises. We were trained to fulfil agreement. We were trained to be thankful to people who did an iota of good to us.” Those were his words. And those words are in fact, uniting words and inspiring ones. I mean, words that would make you feel proud of being a member of this country called Nigeria. APC has done that.
However, it is not too late if the PDP members, who love the PDP for what it is, change their decision that, of course we love the party, but that they are not happy about the decision they took at the primary.
What are your expectations from the coming general election?
The coming general election should be used to further unite Nigeria. When Sokoto State Governor Tambuwal’s initiative came on board, it started bringing back sad memories of 1993 and it is not good for our country. We should remember things that will unite us like the day we won Independence, the day we won Africa cup of Nations, the day we discovered oil, the day our boxer won global titles, we should remember Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa, and other good things about us. And that is what elections should make us to remember. We should dream of how Nigeria should be secured, how nobody in Nigeria should go hungry and so on and not anything that would remind us of what could divide us.
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Why are you so particular about the South West as if the region is the only region in the south?
As a public affairs analyst, we should line up behind what is correct and what is right. I am not doing agitation for people. Rather I do agitation for the right thing. There are moments when government is oppressed and we fight on the side of the government against the oppression. Most of the time, people get oppressed, and that is why it is said that we always go side by side with the people. We fight against oppression side by side with the people. When Hitler came on board, most of the people were not courageous enough to warn the world because it was a popular opinion. And popular opinion at times can mislead. #EndSARS was a popular opinion.
The truth of the moment is that the most workable alliance in the history of Nigeria is the alliance on ground now, which is the alliance between the north and the south-west. The alliance between the north and the south—east was not well managed and it led to civil war! The alliance between the north and south-south, it created a lot of cracks in the country. The alliance that worked, despite the fact of economic depression, which is a global one that also affects the economy of Nigeria, we stood our ground. Incidentally, see what happened in the APC primaries. Those are the types of alliance that must be allowed to stay as long as when the nation would understand the model as per how did it work?!
Against this backdrop therefore, I will strongly propose that the power should shift to the south-west. My proposal is based on the argument that it is a workable model. It is the model that has brought peace to the length and breadth of this country. It is not a fabrication; the alliance worked and should therefore be allowed to flourish for people to under study it. Is it because we have made the south-west a home for everybody that it worked? Is it because of the wisdom that we should look away when we are provoked? Is that what other regions should emulate?
So, these are some of the things other countries do to engender peace and unity among them. Let us adopt this model very well as a mode of relationship any time the north wants to enter into alliances with the south.