Dr. Yinka Odumakin is a media entrepreneur and the National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, a Pan-African Sociopolitical Organization. In This interview with Akinyemi Doyinsola, he Analysed issues of Political, Social and Economic Relevance in Nigeria.
What is your impression about June 12 commemoration and it’s significance to Nigeria Democracy?
June 12 was that day Nigeria went to elect a Democratic President with the cleanest and fairest election ever held in its history .It was the day we were also going to use same ballot to resolve the nationality question in a buy-one-get-one-free arrangement as the Muslim-Muslim ticket of Abiola and Kingibe won in predominantly Christian areas. Upon trust, a Yorubaman(Abiola) defeated his opponent(Bashir Tofa), in his home state of Kano. And as if the elements were mobilized for Nigeria’s birth, it did not rain throughout the country. We got a template for true democracy on June 12 1993, but for the annulment of test beautiful moment.
June 12, 1993 is often regarded as the day Nigerians came in unity to vote in One Voice across ethnic, racial and religious line, do you still have the faith that Nigeria will someday still record such a day of unity in voting?
It is doubtful now that Nigeria will ever re-enact that beautiful moment at the ballot except we go back to the foundation .The annulment of June 12 tore the prospect of the jettisons of the primordial sentiments that have held us down for ages. The invalidation of June 12 brought into focus sharply, the reality that we are not one people as the annulment had all the traces of ethnic politics. It is now impossible for the best materials the land can offer to be on the same ticket if they share faith in Nigeria and win elections. What should be our secondary contradictions have now assumed a primal place. We are more divided today than we were in 1914, and the hegemonists are not helping matters within their wrong headed approach that we cannot discuss the unity of Nigeria.
The Nigeria polity has been continually heated up with the agitation for a Biafra Republic, and most recently. The order by a section of Northern youths and leaders for the Igbos to vacate Northern Nigeria before October 1, 2017. What are your thoughts and opinion on these moves?
The reason why Biafra is alive is the manifest injustice in our polity and the refusal to build an inclusive country. We all still remember the President on a global stage, talking about 5 per cent and 97 per cent. Which is the formula that has defined our landscape. It is such an open display of segregation that has fueled the separatist mood. It must be said that whatever you say of IPOB, all they have done is to ask for self-determination. They have not expelled anybody from Igboland, neither have they attacked any non-natives. The quit order by Arewa youths on the other hand is quite provoking and is largely seen as an attempt to create an atmosphere of chaos. Which Arewa military wing can exploit for a coup, as the reality of losing “our power ” dawns on the oligarchs. That the youth had their Press Conference in Arewa House and have remained immune from arrest further confirms. The support they have garnered from northern elders. Don’t remove all doubt about a grand plot to truncate the civil process if they cannot continue to maintain their grip.
Can we say that Nigeria is a Nation destined for war?
Nigeria is obviously destined for war as the irresistible has collided with the immovable. The type of contradictions we have in Nigeria have been resolved in history either through negotiated settlement or war. The apostle of the former are those advocating for the restructuring of Nigeria, while the harbingers of war are the hegemonists, who say the call is a tall order because of their petty and momentary advantages. It would take the mercy of God to have a peaceful resolution with their Pharaonic mien.
Do you support that June 12 be declared as Nigeria’s Democracy Day? Why or why not?
June 12 is our democracy day, as that was the beautiful day all the ingredients of democracy harbored in Nigeria. May 29 reminds us of many unpleasant to be our democracy day: ‘May 29,1904: Historically was when Othman Danfodio and his brother Abdullah Danfodio, primarily motivated by imperial desires, used Islamic religion as a tool to invade the Hausa(Habe) Kingdom. On that day, Seriki Yunfa of Gobriyya(present Gusau, Zamfara State), was beheaded by the Fulani invaders. Danfodio then started invading and appropriating the Hausa land, and establishing green flags as a token of spiritual allegiance to Sokoto, which he made his spiritual capital.” On May 29, 1952 – The colonial opportunists conducted a lopsided and rigged census for the Amalgamated Protectorates called Nigeria, without the socio – cultural inputs of natives, for British economic purposes. Although by then the colonial masters had perfected an agreement with the Fulanis in collaboration with the subjected Hausas. Demographically, that was the first census in the entire world that will apply demographic superiority to dwellers of Arid desert, as against tropical coastal line dwellers. On May 29, 1959 – The Northern region of Nigeria got approval for self rule from the conspiring British colonialists, two solid years before the West and the East got theirs. The reason was that the Fulanis had seen the spiritual power inherent in that date for their invading race. On May 29, 1962 – State of emergency was declared in the western region by the Fulani Tafawa Balewa regime, with the British colonialist behind the scenes. It was during this period that Chief Obafemi Awolowo was put under house arrest and was eventually jailed for felony. The State of emergency declared in West was the position of the colonial masters to punish the region for pioneering the call and process towards Independence (i.e. Self Rule), from the British government. Again, May 29, 1967 – This was the day the second round of ethnic cleansing of the Igbo people of South Eastern Nigeria took place as orchestrated throughout the North. Both young and old of the Igbo indigenes were eliminated and the massacre extended further to all other southerners. This event majorly culminated into the call by Lt. Col Odumegwu Ojukwu on all Igbos to return to their geographical space. It eventually led to the Civil War. May 29,1999 – It was for the above reasons the Fulani Oligarchy imposed May 29, 1999 as the handover date to a democratically elected government, through General Abdulsalaam Abubakar, the then Head of State. The imposition of same day, starting from year 2000, as Democracy Day through their agent, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo.
There have been fresh calls for President Muhammadu Buhari to implement the recommendations of the 2016 National Conference; do you believe this is the right time for it’s implementation?
I hope it is not too late now. I doubt how many people will look back now if this government begins to hawk restructuring at this point. It had all the chance when it took power to stand in the grand and rally the centrifugal and centripetal forces. But now, it has lost that moral force with its sectional, and parochial concentration .
True Fiscal Federalism has often been regarded as the panacea to the Nation’s Socioeconomic and security challenges, can we rely on this as a Nation?
True federalism is the panacea to get us out of this bind, but for the indolent culture of reaping without sowing that has become a way of life. The reason why a section of the country is opposed to it and we are locked in this perpetual feud over the oil of Niger Delta and the VAT of Lagos is the culture of pleasure without work. The Data of the Internally Generated Revenue(IGR) of some states and what they shared from the Federation Account between June 2015 and May 2016 may be useful here:
STATE IGR. FAAC ALLOCATION
Yobe. N2.2b. N57b
Zamfara. N2.7b. N56b
Kebbi. N3.5b. N64.8b
Borno. N3.5b. N78.7b
Nassarawa. N4.4b. N50.5b
Gombe. N4.7b. N49.8b
Jigawa. N5b. N73b
Most of the IGR are also taxes collected from salaries paid from Abuja allocations. This is the best these states can have because they have refused to see the better possibilities under a restructured polity, with every section of the country engaged in productive activities. If we freed Solid Minerals, which are in large abundance all over the country. Yet the oil economy is just too small for us. Between June 2015 and May 2016, Nigeria received $3.9b from oil and gas. While Disneyland made $13.8b in the same period, while the New York Fire Service Department is spending $1.9b dollars in 2017. Ireland has no drop of oil with 4.6m people and a GDP of $238b, while Nigeria with 200m has a GDP of $481b. Norway has a population of 5.1 m people with daily Production of 2.2 m barrels of oil, while all the fight in Nigeria is the same 2.2 m militancy permitting.
On June 9, 2017, the 8th National Assembly celebrated her 2nd year anniversary of legislative duties, how would you rate their performance thus far?
There is no much to write home about the “ajekun iya ni o je” chambers.
Since inception, the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government has made the Anti-Corruption war the focal point of her government, how would you rate the effectiveness of this fight?
There has been so much media orchestration around the anti-graft war, but it has lacked substance. Beyond revealing what we all know that corruption is massive here, there has not been one initiative to tackle the root of corruption. The entire architecture of corruption has been intact with only media euphoria. In the fullness of time, we will know whether the corruption that is going on now is not more than what they are exposing. On democracy day, Acting President said they have spent N1.2 trillion Naira on infrastructure with no project completed
How would you score the APC led Federal Government since inception, haven also celebrated two years in office on 29th of May, 2017?
The last two years have been a total failure.