Buhari can still deal with corrupt people who installed him – Arogbofa, Afenifere’s ex-secretary general – TrendyNewsReporters
Top Stories

Buhari can still deal with corrupt people who installed him – Arogbofa, Afenifere’s ex-secretary general

Bashorun Sehinde Arogbofa, the immediate past Secretary-General of the Afenifere and member of the defunct National Democratic Coalition speaks with PETER DADA on restructuring, ASUU strike, and other issues affecting the nation

How is Afenifere faring after you left the association as the Secretary-General?

Afenifere is still waxing strong, even after I left as the Secretary-General.  I served there for years; I was managing men and problems, members from different parts of the country in general and South-West in particular with different problems. It was not an easy task but I have to thank our leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti. I will also thank God for those 10 years. With all the challenges, we survived. Afenifere remains a force to be reckoned with. While the former Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, died and my voluntary resignation, some people believed Afenifere was doomed but no. What I did when I was in the office (Afenifere), like I did when I was in the government service, was to bring up younger leaders who could take over. Take, for example, the Communiqué Drafting Committee which we formed, it was not only Yinka (Odumakin) that was there, Jare Ajayi was there, Korede Duyile was there. At a point in time, I brought a younger person there. It was just to understudy what was happening there.

So, anytime Yinka was not around, it did not mean that we weren’t going to function. So that practice was put in place. When Yinka died, it was not too difficult to have Jare Ajayi take over and he has been doing well. We have also got some new members coming in and Afenifere is still alive kicking. Even though, the leader appointed the deputy leader, another old and honorable man. The acting leader is a bold character, outspoken and courageous. In the situation we find ourselves in this country, he is doing his best. The leader is still in Akure and the tradition is still on. All members of Afenifere are still adhering to the tradition and practices of Afenifere.

The last time, Afenifere supported candidates based on the promise that they would restructure this country. Now, we are entering another electioneering period, don’t you see politicians using it (restructuring) to cajole the people for votes again?

It is true that Afenifere voted people based on the promise to restructure because we see a restructuring of this country as the singular idea that can bring peace into this country, prosperity into this country, healthy states’ rivalry into this country and this will stop nearly every problem we are facing in this country. Is it security? Is it providing funds to manage the structure? Is it getting better? Just mention it. That was the way we saw it and we are still seeing it that way. You might have (Goodluck) Jonathan in mind. When he said he was going to do it and he called for the National Conference, I must confess that Afenifere was one of the groups that literally made the CONFAB a reality. Towards the tail end of his (Jonathan) administration, he granted it but we knew he was sincere when he said in his address to us, to restructure this country and do anything with this country but don’t divide it. This was an expression of a statesman. We came out with over 600 resolutions to move this country forward. If the resolutions were followed, these problems we are having would have been overcome. That was the situation and that was why we voted for him.

On what has been happening ever since it has not been the best. Government is a continuum. The present government has not been fair to Nigerians in that regard. I wonder who seldom pumps these things into our President (Muhammadu Buhari) to jettison the report. Such was very bad advisers and such didn’t love this country. If such a group of Nigerians of different categories came together and was sponsored by the government, and for the next government to jettison it, even after winning, I think that is very unkind to this country. They should have looked into it. Well, the government that did it is gone but can you say what the former government did should be abandoned? You should have started from where they stopped. That is governance.

Unfortunately, the report and other reports were brushed aside and we started to like people who are pathfinders, trying to get new roads here and there and so, getting things mixed up. It is unfortunate. Even the APC manifesto; they were saying it wasn’t their report. What about the Nasir El-Rufai’s committee report on restructuring? His report said the country should be restructured. Why these people are not restructuring the country is because they are the cause of problems in this country and people will continue to wonder. We have known them. Afenifere has known those who want to restructure and those who don’t want them again. Such people, we won’t vote for them. We will just listen to them but won’t vote for them because voting for them will mean voting for the continuation of the problems we are having in this country, which is not the best. We will vote for people who have the foresight to make things better.

What is the way forward?

The solution is restructuring. It is deep with so many things. It will enable you to have your own police to monitor your internal affairs while the federal police will still be there. That is how it is being done in civilized countries. We need restructuring so that there can be healthy competition among states. For instance, states developing at their own pace, making use of the things they have like minerals resources. They can develop these things to make the life of the people better instead of going every month to meet the Federal Government. A true federal system of government makes whoever is President first among equals unlike Nigeria, where the President is everything. We want a system that allows other states to grow at their own level, like in the USA where California alone can buy three other states. Restructuring is good in the sense of the basis for a federal system, two units; federal and state government. The issue of local government could be addressed by the states. The states can create the number of local governments they can maintain

How are you going to do it that they will not come this time around and deceive you with restructuring to get support again?

We will look at their antecedent. Who are these people saying that they want to restructure? Are they the same persons who have been joining more than five political parties within a year? We will look at their credentials. We will look at what the Yoruba man calls the ‘Omoluabi’ traits. Do they just want our votes and after that, they run away? We also have to warn our people because it is not only the politicians that are to be blamed; it is not only the leaders that are to be blamed. Our people too have to think. That is why Afenifere, as part of the people, will ask questions. We will keep our eyes open, not closed when they come. We will look at where they are coming from and where they want to take us because whether we like it or not our greatest problem in this country has been poor leadership and bad followership. When you have a poor leader, you are going to have a bad follower. So, we are watching closely. Yes, they are moving around, we shall keep on looking at them. They should not just use restructuring as a slogan to steal our votes, and when they say it, let us ask them questions. Let them prove what they want to say. We are getting wiser every day and they know.

The zoning of the presidency has been a subject of argument in recent times. Do you think this is what we need now as a country with heaps of challenges?


The ideal thing would have been to forget about zoning in this country and to see where we can get the best because there is no part of the country we can’t get very good people who can run the affairs of the country. However, in that regard, we still have to allow the issue of zoning to remain because a part of the country cannot just continue to produce the president because this is a heterogeneous society where the federal system is the best to be practiced. Whether we like it or not, the federal system has to do with zoning. I think what should be paramount to us is that even when we zone, let the best emerge. The present administration has made that call more necessary. In a situation where a part of the country is seen as being more privileged than others; having everything, having the best in government while the others are treated as second class in everything. That is what this government represents. The President should not have started by giving us the impression that only his people or his relations are the best in everything, putting them in key positions. We are now seeing the results. It is the same people destroying his government. It is the same people now that don’t allow him to see beyond his nose. Of course, we know what happened to his government now. Perhaps, it is only former President Olusegun Obasanjo that broke the barriers in that area alone. So, the present system has made it more imperative that the presidency has to rotate, but in rotating, the mistake of this government and the past should be avoided.

Is the Afenifere having a plan of bringing all the presidential aspirants from the South-West together in a bid to have one consensus candidate from the region?

We are getting there but we have not discussed it. When the time comes, you will hear from us. But as I said earlier on, we need somebody who can solve the Nigeria problem, who can restructure not just anybody. We are not putting up a candidate; we don’t have a political party. We still maintain our socio-political structure.

The power, education, and health sectors are almost collapsing within a few months to the end of the current regime. Do you still believe things can be changed with the little time remaining for the regime?

At the inception of this government, I said if President Buhari wanted to succeed, he must be fair play to everybody. He must not be seen to be following nepotism, he must see Nigeria as one. Yes, we were told that our President is not corrupt. He must change this by making sure that he deals with corrupt people who brought him to power, he must find a way of dealing with them. He knows how to keep them off because if people say you are not corrupt and corrupt people surround you, then you are the leader of the corrupt people. I also said Mr. President should watch his back because many of these lawmakers are corrupt. He must find a way of dealing with them at the National Assembly while the state governors will handle the state Assemblies.

Yes, we have been told that Buhari is not corrupt but there are indices that there are more corrupt Nigerians than before in this country now, which is not credit either to him or to his administration. These are some of the problems we are facing. For the remaining part of Buhari’s administration, I do not see any hope. The body language of the President does not show that there is going to be an any better thing. He has been there now for well over seven years. If he could not address all these things, is it now that he is preparing to leave the presidency that he is going to address them? When he is still facing problems with his own political party, is it now? APC is in a problem now, PDP trying to manage its own problem.

Shortly before the President traveled out he was telling Nigerians that he had the might, resources, and power to bring sanity to his party and that his party had the greatest number of Nigerians. If he is saying that, can we not see that all is not well? If a leader is already saying that, it is a way of saying that he too is already in a problem. Do not forget that we have a myriad of problems unresolved by him. If he has not been able to do all these things by now, is it the remaining few months that he is going to do them?

Speaking about corrupt legislators, what do you think can be done to allow the right people to represent us?

There is a saying that people get the type of leaders they want. If we don’t want bad people, we can do it. We know that bad person will impoverish the citizens to a state of begging, to a state of abject poverty, where they will be begging. We know they will do it. But I think we have to educate the people that just for a few weeks or a few months, they can take what they bring but refuse to vote for them. We should be principled, let’s appeal to our people. The women and the youths have the largest number of voters in this country; let them make up their minds that they are not going to vote for those who will put them into slavery.

As a renowned educationist, what is your take on the current strike by ASUU?

Let’s be sincere and ask ourselves; who is in charge of the education sector? What is his background on education? You don’t put a round peg in a square hole. You don’t also put a square peg in a round hole. The Minister of Education has his own specialization. If you look at what has been happening in the country, people will think Dr. Chris Ngige is the Minister of Education, but he is not. We heard recently of an event where the Minister himself was said to have walked out on some students or so. It is not the fault of the man; that is not his own area of specialization. So, whatever he is doing is just trial and error and that is what is affecting everything in education.

The government should stop playing hide and seek games with ASUU. If ASUU keeps on this fight, it means that there is something there and the government should do it. The government should come out to answer them. Of course, ASUU members are not fighting for themselves, they are fighting for the improvement of education in the country. It is most unfortunate. In our days, as a graduate of University College of Ibadan, in Cambridge or Oxford, they will give respect to you. In fact, the University of London, Oxford University, Cambridge University will give a place of pride to anyone graduating from the University of Ibadan then. But nowadays, what do we have? If our graduates get to all these universities, they will first of all be told to go and do some remedial courses. As a way of improving the situation, let the government answer ASUU. They should not keep on destroying the education of our children.

But apart from the government doing that, I can no longer join people in appealing to ASUU but we can have some intermediaries who can assist the government to do the needful. We should not fold our arms. A situation where a graduate can’t speak correct simple sentences, where he can’t take memos, where he can’t be on his own, where he can’t take any initiative; is not education. We must go back, we must beg the government. It is not out of cowardice but out of our better tomorrow.

Recently, to improve the education sector in Nigeria a federal lawmaker moved that all public officials should stop sending their children to school abroad. Do you subscribe to that?

There was a certain time the people said there should be no private universities, and that government should concentrate on conventional universities and fund them very well. Did they listen? Was it not those people who were are saying private universities should not exist that were asking for licenses to run them? To pass a bill is not the real issue. If we pass a bill that they should not send their children out, will it be implemented, especially with what we are experiencing in Nigeria? How will such a law be enforced? They will be the first to break it. The ideal thing would have been to improve our institutions. There was a time that federal secondary schools in the country were a unifying force for us all, but what do we have now? When the head is rotten, why do you think the bottom will be good? These are the problems we are having in this country.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button