Dr. Olu Agunloye is a household name in politics of Ondo State, haven contested for the Senate and gubernatorial elections at different times. Beyond politics, the Erusu Akoko-born Political ‘big fish’, have in times past been a lecturer at the University of Ibadan, operated as executive in manufacturing industry and now spends more time on ICT-propelled business development. In this interview with Israel Fagbemigun. he discusses issues of political, social and economic relevance in Ondo and Nigeria.
You contested the last Ondo state gubernatorial election with the incumbent Governor and lost. What’s your assessment of his first months in office?
The new Akeredolu Government has the benefit of starting afresh, but it is not how it has started that will count but how it has ended, the distance covered and the work done. The new government may shake and waver at the beginning but may stabilise and achieve well at the end. It should not be compared yet with any other governments in Ondo State or elsewhere. Let us wait and see and hope for the best.
Based on his ill health, do you support the call for President Buhari’s resignation?
President Muhammadu Buhari, in his present state, represents all what Nigeria is. He is frail and is a mixture of what is good and what is bad. The good part is getting weaker by the day and needs surgical help, reawakening, or miracle you may say. The bad part keeps reproducing self like cancer cells and is popping up everywhere. Some of those calling for his resignation or re-election are no more than attention seekers who do so only for the sake of selves. None of the two – resignation or re-election will lead to any magic wand for the change Nigeria needs. The change Nigeria wants now must be voluntary, spontaneous and pervasive; a change in our attitude; change in our mindset and a complete paradigm shift to be committed to collective development.
Mr President’s war against corruption and the activities of the EFCC has been accused of being and more of media prosecution, what is your take on this?
The declaration of war against corruption by Government is not aimed at any institution or reinforcing any institution. It is directed against individuals who are corrupt but still in the wrong camp. The declaration is not deep rooted. It is of very lightweight and is already being carried by the winds. I was close to Government when EFFC was established. EFCC started well and was doing so well that I once proposed that it should be officially identified as an arm of the Nigeria Police to impact its goodness to whitewash the Police Force. In general, the outlook of EFFC depends on who is running the agency or at the helm of the Presidency. You may therefore commend EFCC when it has done well, but must blame the Presidency when EFCC goofs.
Some have termed the entire story of Chibok Girls’ abduction as scam. Do you really think they were kidnapped?
The Chibok girls’ saga and its handling are signs, signals and significance of our times – end time for Revelation believers, end of game and end of decency for schemers. The entire affair has foul smell except for some genuine efforts by the BBOG group. The politics of the saga, the looting of treasury associated with it and so-called war against the hostage takers are deeply sickening. The latest act in this sordid nightmare was the recent release of 82 girls as a swap or as a gift to Nigeria as the Presidency put it. The release of the 82 girls only compounded the complexity of the absurdity in the whole affairs. Take for instance, the demeanour and smiling faces of the released girls didn’t indicate that they have been in captivity for over three years. Also, they were not allowed to give their experiences in any language and some of them were wearing what looked like campaign T-shirts. Worse more, their parents or teachers were not made public. In all, the 82-girl parade conjured what looked like Government funded charade.
Do you support a restructure of Nigerian federalism?
Restructuring based on true federalism could be a way to resolve the conflicts and impediments to progress and development in Nigeria. Although this is clear to all parties including those who oppose it and those who mouth it yet nothing has happened in the direction of restructuring for the several years that the calls have been on. It then starts to look as if Nigeria may prefer to break up than to restructure. There are, indeed, obvious gaps in the current polity and the recent 2014 National Conference perhaps offers the best opportunity to start off restructuring process to better stabilise the country and reposition her for progressive development. It is not too late to revisit this Conference Communique.
Where do you think the present politics of no viable opposition will lead Nigeria to?
This is expected. Not because Nigerians so much believe in ‘if you cannot beat them join them’ slogan but because, across the country, governments at all tiers are not solving the people’s problems or providing their needs. People have come to the realisation that Government and its paraphernalia are directed majorly at vested interests and so they flock from their parties to the parties in power. They know intuitively that Government no longer needs opposition as feedback mechanism for progress or to ensure course correction. This is indeed a dangerous trend. It is a sad indicator that the will of the leadership to serve the less privileged has given way to determination to promote personal and prebendal tendencies.
As an elder statesman, what pragmatic step would you take towards paying workers’ salary in Ondo sir?
Hahaha. Elder statesmen don’t do things like worrying about how State workers’ salaries will be paid. They worry about how to get their pensions from Government or from their children to make decent living. It is Governors who worry about things like that. When I vied for the governorship of Ondo State last year, I had meticulously mapped out what to do about this and other issues but these can be no more than an academic exercise now because my friend and brother, Barrister Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN is Governor of Ondo State currently and he has started paying these salaries.