What are your expectations as the confab gets underway?
My guess is as good as yours. You see the Nigerian people are tragically frustrated with the way governments at different levels are handling the socio-economic developments of the nation. The basic amenities that will make people to enjoy this country are not there. The people are depressed. Here is a nation that has all the facilities but at the end of the day could not leverage on that to get the people to where they desire in life. The problem the nation is faced with is as a result of bad leadership. The governments are not focused; they lack vision or they are misdirecting their vision on things that will not bring democracy dividend to majority of the people. We have been having leaders that are ruling the nation for their selfish ends. Majority of us have travelled beyond this coast and we have seen what is obtainable in these developed nations, why can’t we in this country too harness our resources to bring development to the doorsteps of the people. The physical and human resources are there for us, why are we punishing ourselves.
So how are you going to pursue the Yoruba agenda already drawn by the leaders?
I have passed the age that someone will conscript me into his belief. Which one is the Yoruba agenda? At what time did Yoruba decided on any agenda. I am not in the confab because of ethnic development but because of the development of Nigeria on a larger scale. Fine, I am a Yoruba man, no doubt about that, but I have passed such a parochial, sentimental and egoistic level. How would someone draw us back to the 50’s and 60’s? Is that what we are supposed to agitate and pressed for at the confab? Has anyone asked why the Midwest pulled out of the Western region? I don’t expect anyone to start asking such a politically disuniting question. Are we progressing or retrogressing? Will anyone ask Ondo State to submit her sovereignty in the name of regionalism, looking at how much the state is getting from oil? Or how would you convince Lagos State to forget her statehood and go for regionalism with the money she is making from its IGR.
For what reason will the state agree to this? Why don’t we face the truth for once? I won’t want to link myself with this inactive pressure, a vague and bony agitation, a mere political hypothesis.
What I think we should do is we should agitate for confederacy; let’s have a bilateral talk with others, we should stop this regional agenda. A clique of people will sit down somewhere and think it can dictate to me, no Oba can dictate for me. If we all agree on regionalism, how many states can stand on its own? At this hour of the day, let’s go and talk with other regions, with the South-south that have oil and others. I hate these egocentric and retrogressive steps. We are all stakeholders, a clique of people cannot start telling us what to do and think they can continue to rule over us.
Are you comfortable with the accommodation, allowances and other arrangements in place for the delegates?
Sincerely, I don’t even know how much we are to take. See I am not in this confab for monetary gain but for the future of my children, your children and their own children. There are things I have missed already in terms of the ingredients of a good country, considering my age, but what about your children and my children, their future is most important to me. As we are now, the delegates at the confab are spending their own money. Payment is immaterial to me. It is not important. It is a non-issue. However, we are having a 3-day holiday; when we resume on Monday I believe we will be briefed on this not-so-important issues.
I know you are aware that some Yoruba delegates have been dropped for new delegates. How does that affect the pursuit of the regional agenda?
I have told you, I am not in this confab for Yoruba agenda. By the way who wrote the agenda? Who are the people that are deciding for the Yoruba?
Cuts in…but there was a pre-conference meeting of Yoruba elders and leaders at the House of Chiefs in Ibadan, were you not there?
They would not invite someone like me. All I want you to know about this conference is that Yoruba or no Yoruba, this country Nigeria is more important to me. How would this nation find its feet in the comity of nations in terms of development, not in terms of periodic expression of tribal sentiments or tribalism? I am a detribalized individual.
What was your first day at the confab like?
It was good. The delegates’ relationship was cordial, everybody was looking beyond religion, whether Christians or Muslims; everybody was looking beyond tribe. The confab will chart a new beginning for this nation Nigeria. We need to see ourselves as Nigerians, we have a stake as Nigerians, we all should forget our backgrounds as Yoruba or as Christians or Muslims. We even prayed in the Nigerian way. We need to forge ahead this way.