Less than two years to the 2015 General Elections in Nigeria, many people are apprehensive about the political scheming and who goes for what position in the states and in the country.
However, one question that has kept re-occurring for the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. (Hon.) Adeyemi Ikuforiji is what would be his future political plan for 2015, but his ready answer has always been that all is in the hands of God.
The three times Speaker had a chat with journalists during the recently celebrated Ileya Festival and he bares his mind on the same question and speaks on other issues affecting the country. Thegazellenews.com was at the session and we present the excerpts here:
We all know that a lot of things are happening in the country, what is your message to the people as we celebrate Ileya Festival?
It is time for all of us to come together and imbibe the teachings of the two religions that we profess in the country. There is none of the religions that do not preach peace, they both preach orderliness, we are supposed to be our brothers’ keeper, which is the teaching of Christianity and Islam, no God ever sent anyone to go and kill on His behalf. We cannot say we want to serve God without serving His children. We all need to get our acts right. The Almighty God has brought all of us together for a purpose, if it has pleased God, He would have led the Hausas to the Sudan and not to where they are in Nigeria, if it has pleased Him, he would have left the Ibos to Gabon, not to where they are in Nigeria.
If it pleases Him, he would create the Ibibios of Nigeria and locate them in Cote D’Ivoire or Guinea. But, in His wisdom, He has brought us here together and we should all work to have the advantage of unity in diversity. Other nations that are multi-national in nature, when you look at them, they develop faster and they get things done better, they take advantage of the variety that is within their territory, we can do the same here.
God has given us lots of resources; He has blessed us beyond the level that He blessed other nations, why can’t we take advantage of it. I think it is time for all of us to really come together, think together and find a lasting solution to our problems and the problem we have are not really created by God, they are created by a few selfish individuals amongst us. I don’t understand why the few, very few could just have their ways over and above the rest.
What is your opinion about the proposed National Conference?
It is a good idea to have a National Conference, but the fear is that why is the President coming with a National Conference barely 14 months to another general election. To have a conference to decide on the future of a local government not to talk of a state takes months to organize to get meaningful results. How do you bring the different groups we have in the country together under 14 months to a general election, when will the campaign for a general election start? How many months are we going to spend on this? When are we starting the National Conference? When are we getting to the end of the conference? When will the President implement the solutions?
If the President is serious about it, I think this should have come into the forefront right in 2011, when President Goodluck Jonathan came into office from May 29th to 31 December 2011. He had enough time to think about a national conference and give us a direction and we would have felt that he is sincere. But, with the way it is now, with the disarray in the camp of the so-called biggest party in Africa, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which is fast becoming the smallest party in Africa, I don’t think anybody in the nation will take the presidency serious.
But, Chief Ayo Adebanjo said that it doesn’t matter even if it causes a delay in the election…
I don’t think that is democratic, there should be no delay in the General Election, you want to elongate the tenure of the present government across the nation, you can’t do that, by May 29th 2015, we must have a new government in Abuja and in most of the states, which also had elections on May 29th, 2011, you cannot elongate the tenure of any government in any way.
People are saying the disarray in the PDP would make people not to believe in the National Conference…
It is not only the disarray in the PDP that would make people not to believe in the National Conference, but we are all human beings, even your own association in the House with only 30 members, if the leadership had failed you overtime and then few months to the end of their tenure, they now decided to bring some of the faces you have canvassed for and they said they don’t believe in initially, it is natural that you won’t have any trust in them.
How many Nigerians trust our government anyway? How many Nigerians believe any of their pronouncements even if they say they want to build a road here or there? Look at Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, they promised to take care of it years back, but it has not been possible, many serious leaders across the world have built thousands of kilometres of roads within the same period, but just a little above 100 kilometres of road have not been tarred by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Still on trust sir, with the lessons of Eid-El Kabir, what can we learn as a nation?
Our religions define roles for leaders of communities and nation. If we go by the dictates of our religions, I think most of the problems we have today would not be there. If every leader knows and believes that one day, you are going to account for your deeds on the surface of the earth, not just during general election, but at a time you cannot deny all that you have done wrong and right, you are going before the supreme being, the creator and you will be asked why you did all that you did and a book would be opened for you and you cannot deny it, if we all remember that, we won’t find ourselves where we are today, don’t we have enough resources to take care of all of us, and put smiles on the faces of our people, but the leadership is simply ungodly. Of course, the followership is something else generally.
Sir, looking at the state of our security, it is obvious that all is not well despite all the money being pumped into it, what would be your reaction?
My reaction is the same, you are talking of security, is there any sector of our national life that is in proper shape. The amount of money pumped on security is what you are talking about, what of the amount of money pumped into energy generation, what has come out of it. What of the volume of money that has gone into oil production, what has come out of it. When people have headache now, they would rather go to South Africa or fly to Europe, and you look at the budget, national and state and look at the amount of money that goes into the health sector, do we have enough to show for it, we have failed ourselves and we all just need to come together and think of what exactly we want of this nation.
It is not just the question of leadership alone; every one of us has his own portion of the blame. Even the drains in front of people’s houses, they are waiting for the government to come and clear the gutter, to come and clear the backyard for them, you will see people tell you that this road has this problem or that problem and you find multi-millionaires living on the road, a small road that people used to come together as a community and say we want to do. My secondary school at the other side of my gate was built by a few people, and the school would be 60 years old in February 2014, you ask yourself that those of us, who passed through the school, what has been our contributions to its development.
Most of those, who built the school in their early 30s and 40s, did not even go through secondary school, and those of us who benefited from it don’t find it necessary to go there and do something, we are all waiting for the government. Some members of this community, the so-called enlightened ones then, about four or five of them, gave us the school, which is the first in the entire Epe Division of Lagos State. What is happening to those of us, who benefited from it, it is a national problem, the orientation is upside down, we need to retrace our steps, we need to go back to our roots, and do something about the way we think, sleep, talk, walk, every area needs to be taken care of, when we do that, things would be done better.
There is controversy over the state of our economy, while the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Malam Sanusi Lamido is saying it is bad, the Finance Minister, Okonjo Iweala is saying it is strong, what is your take on this?
That is not even a question for me, it is a question for you and every other Nigerian on the streets should answer this. Do you see the economy better than what it was three or four years ago, if you say it is better, then it is better, if you feel things are not going right, then you already have the answer to the question.
2015 is around the corner, is it too early to ask you what is the next step for you?
When I left the United States of America to come and contest election in 2003, the number one thing on my agenda was to be the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, and after winning the election on May 3, 2003 and from May 4, 2003 and through the month of May, I ran a campaign that had never been so for the position of the Speaker, but interestingly, I was the one who raised the hand of the person that eventually became the Speaker of the House then during a meeting before the first sitting of the House. I said he should be the next Speaker of the House because I saw clearly that God had not really designed me to be Speaker on June 2, 2003, but when it was His time for me to be Speaker, I became Speaker on the second half of our tenure.
You would agree with me, it is not question of boasting or singing one’s praise, I feel grateful to God that I was not Speaker on June 2, 2003, I became Speaker, when it pleased Him for me to be Speaker and I have been Speaker since 2005 till today, which is a feat that has never been achieved by anyone in this state. You will also agree with me that what God has done for Lagos State as far as the legislative arm is concerned through me has no parallel in the nation. So, as a believer, I know that when the time comes, the Almighty God will show the light and He will make it clear that this is your next direction, this is your next move, no matter the noise, the plotting, the coup and counter coup, what God has planned to do for me, no man can stop Him.