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Buhari alone can’t tackle Nigeria‘s problems – Rewane Adegbenro

Adejare Rewane Adegbenro was born into two political dynasties. His paternal grandfather was the premier of the defunct Western Region while his maternal grandfather was…

Adejare Rewane Adegbenro was born into two political dynasties. His paternal grandfather was the premier of the defunct Western Region while his maternal grandfather was the pro-democracy crusader and financier of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), Pa Alfred Rewane. In this interview, he speaks on the state of nation and proffers solutions to some of our problems. Excerpts:


Daily Trust: What is your view on the current state of the nation?

Adejare Rewane Adegbenro: I must confess that it has not been easy at all the way we see things since this government came to office. They try to do their best, but their best has not been enough because there is always room for improvement. In fact, one aspect that is getting everybody worried presently is the number of lives that we have lost in this country in the last three and a half years which is too enormous. Thankfully however, the government is putting in a lot of efforts to see that the killings stop and there are positive results towards that angle. Let us remember that President Muhammadu Buhari is just a single person. So, it is our collective responsibility to rally round him and his administration to help him succeed in all his efforts to make Nigeria better for all and sundry. So, the government should come out with more bold plans to stem these killings, especially in the North. Then, the poverty aspect of it, many Nigerians are suffering now. And the government is doing it’s very best to see that the downtrodden are empowered with all sorts of empowerment schemes and programmes.

Buhari should be commended for his administration’s efforts in agriculture. He is bringing it back as the mainstay of our economy. After all, we are proudly eating Nigerian made rice across the country. Yet, there are more sectors the president is performing wonders that are not in public domain. We often blame the past administrations for our present woes. But I don’t want us to continue to engage in this buck-passing and blame game. When a government gets into office, they know what they wanted to do before getting into office. You just have to get down and do what you are around to do in office. If past administrations were blamed for the mess and they have accepted their faults, what else are we expecting from them? So, we should stop the blame game and settle down to perform as expected.

More importantly, we have not been able to tackle the education problems of our children. That is another area that constitutes problem for the country. When Chief Obafemi Awolowo was campaigning, I read his last campaign in the papers where he said that those who make education of their children impossible would suffer for it sooner or later. And we are now realising it, majority of those involved in killings and maiming are not knowledgeable, they are not educated, they take drugs. Sadly however, majority of them are being sponsored by politicians. Majority of them, sadly, are also not from this country. They are likely imported to destabilise this country and everybody is looking on.

DT: What then do you think can be done to arrest this trend?

Adegbenro: I believe it is the duty of the government to make sure that all our borders are secured. Let the government close the borders for about six months or so and see what would happen. Our borders are porous and that is why you see the influx of nationals of neighbouring countries like Niger Republic, Chad, Benin Republic and so on into Nigeria unchecked. Strangers just besiege Nigeria because of the impression that we are big with abundant resources to go round. They come here to do all sort of things. They may take over this country if given the opportunity to do so. So, it is left to our government to look inward and see what exactly we can do to stop all this nonsense.

DT: How would you assess the performance of our former leaders when they were in power?

Adegbenro: You see, like I said earlier, don’t let us get involved in passing bulk and trading blames because we won’t get anywhere. Whether we like it or not, past leaders have done their best. We should be tired of hearing that the administration of the PDP that ruled for 16 years ruined this country. I am even surprised listening to Godswill Akpabio, who was with the PDP before joining the APC, saying the PDP didn’t do anything for this country. He has forgotten so soon that he was part of that administration! He was governor for eight years and then senator on the platform of that PDP he is now castigating. And interestingly, Akpabio constructed the best stadium in this country in Akwa Ibom when he was governor! And he joins the chorus that the PDP did not do anything for the country. Are you getting my point? When former president Olusegun Obasanjo was there for eight years, he was the one who paid all our debts. Well, he did not pay with money, he used his personality, his international connection to make sure that we were forgiven. And our creditors wrote off our debts. And that is a feat and Nigerians have forgotten about that! To me, whether we like it or not, past leaders have done their best. President Buhari is there today, and it would not be a surprise if he goes tomorrow and people start saying he did not do anything while in office! But we all know that there are certain areas that he has done well and will still do more before he finally bows out. But there must be improvement and he has to do more since it is his turn to be there today. So, I think by and large, I don’t want to get involved in blaming past leaders and all that. They have come, seen and conquered in their own little ways.

DT: Don’t you think that recycling of the old people is affecting governance in this country?

Adegbenro: Well, what I will say is that it is high time we adopted the system whereby the youth with younger and versatile brains come up to rule this country. My children, whenever I have problem with my phones of whatever brand, you would see the way these three, four year olds would handle the fault! I cannot do it with my age and my experience and exposure. Whenever I exhaust my data, I would just call them to help me out because it seems they got special training from the womb that make them more advanced than us technologically. And the way we are talking and seeing things, they are not seeing and talking that way. They are more current in global events than us. So, let us now encourage the younger ones who have better ideas about how a country should be governed to come up and take the leadership mantle of this country. We should do the right thing and stop our engagement in blame game. As far as I am concerned, I want the old people to allow vibrant young people to come up and get involved in governance. When we have 40- year-old people who are already professors in this country, what else do you want 80-year-old people to be doing in political offices?! Let these old politicians take the back seat and handle advisory roles behind the curtains. After all, they have been there since independence! What else do they want? They should step aside and allow the younger ones to take the centre stage.

DT: Are the youth themselves ready for leadership roles?

Adegbenro: That is the challenge now. Are the youth ready for service or are they still dreaming of riding big cars and living in big houses in Lekki or Victoria Island in Lagos or the choicest areas in Abuja, Kano, Port-Harcourt or Enugu? Anybody who wants to rule this country must have in mind service to the people and not because of affluence. When you want to serve, you should remember your people are suffering and you want them to see you as a disciplined person. Your lifestyle should be the type that every person around you would want to emulate. You have to serve as a role model in your immediate environment. The youth coming to office should be ready to eradicate the idea of long convoys to save costs. What baffles me is that all of us travel abroad and we see what is obtainable there. We go to Britain, we go to America and we go to France. Where did we see what we are practicing in Nigeria? The money that should be used in taking care of the masses is being squandered on retinue of cars and aides. Everybody here would have police escort. There was a day I was in the train in Britain with Mr. Cameron, he just sat quietly by the window reading newspapers. And that has not taken anything out of his image as the leader of that great country. Nobody stood up for him.

DT: Do you believe in the continued unity of this country?

Adegbenro: Yes, I believe in the unity of the country if the leaders work towards it. My father is Yoruba from the West; my mother is from the South-south, I have a child from the North. Why wouldn’t I believe in a united Nigeria? But there is impunity in the system. The appointments are being lopsided. How can we stop the killings in Nigeria? Let government continue to invest heavily in education. When you educate the people, you have made them to be intelligent and they would know the evil effects of drugs. Can an educated person strap explosives on his body to kill himself? Then, massive youth employment is another vital issue. You know when you educate the youth, you engage them with jobs. And government cannot employ everybody. Then, government should encourage an enabling environment for the private sector to set up industries like we had in the past. Only industries are capable of employing thousands of people. So, a country of gainfully engaged youth would always be peaceful.


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