Mr Ademola Opetuga, a businessman, who also takes special interest in all the political activities going on around him shares his thoughts on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term bid and other sundry national issues with OLAJIDE OMOJOLOMOJU
Every Nigerian is a politician, do you intend to aspire to any political office now or in the near future?
One of my brothers has lost so much money in politics, I feel for him, but I don’t want to be in his shoes. I will rather quietly maintain, be on the sideline and be giving my opinions as long as I have my PVC, I will be voting. I think that is very important, so that one is not left behind. I will make sure I vote and perform my civic responsibility, that is as far as I want to go.
Comparing Nigeria of today to Nigeria of your growing up years, what are your thoughts?
The infrastructures are developed today compared to those days. But the conscience of people has become seriously lacerated; when a pastor can kill a girlfriend, who got pregnant for him and the girlfriend of that girl with her child, were also killed by the pastor. So you can see that people have lost conscience. There is a lot of recklessness and a lot of wickedness in the land. That is what I see as the difference in our society now from when we were growing up.
2019 is around the corner and there have been different voices from different angles for President Muhammadu Buhari to contest or not to contest, if you in the position, what would be your advice to him?
Firstly, frankly speaking, because of his health and his age, I would advise him to go and rest, so that he can use the remaining age of his lifetime peacefully. But I can see from his body language that he loves Aso Rock very well. Maybe it is the rats that would send him away again because he did well during his past regime.
From you own assessment vis a vis where we were coming from as a nation and the problems he inherited, how would you assess his performance so far?
I will say a lot of things are happening around him, I do not see him activating a lot of policies and actions. He seems to have been captured and put into inside a cage and some people are beginning to think that there are some cabals who are doing certain things for their own narrow selfish reasons. In fact, this nation would have gone very far if we have a man with the foresight, who had strong views about things and was ready to forcefully see those views though, but I see him as a cynical sinister-minded, with a very deep kind of character. That is my view.
He came into power with three prong agenda: the economy, the insecurity and corruption. In your own assessment, has he done well in these areas in the last three years?
I think he has driven corruption into a corner. People are cleverly getting more corrupt. There are politics that have mitigated corruption like BVN; and like this regulation that makes all European countries to tell the Nigerian government all the kind of funny money that are entering their countries which are not directly his own making.
On the economy, a lot of things are happening, and because the nature of Nigerians is dynamic, very hard working.
And on insecurity, we have not gotten to the promise land and they have started shouting Hallelujah. The Boko Haram sect is still causing so much troubles and when the Boko Haram scourge is going down, the herdsmen are busy causing more troubles and doing their own Boko Haram. He is busy firefighting and he doesn’t want to agree to state policing, and all those things that have been identified as panacea to the insecurity problem.
Do you think that establishing state police will go a long way to serve some of this insecurity problem?
Yes it will help. It will help because if there is community policing and you see any strange person walking during the day, he will be accosted, and questioned. That person will be afraid so community policing would do a lot of good for this our nation.
Let’s look at National Assembly, how would you assess their performance so far?
The National Assembly has been very parochial, thinking about themselves, their selfish interest. They are concerned about their constituency project, they are very revolutionary and the Senate and the House of Representatives are the highest paid legislative bodies in the world and they are doing next to nothing to us, they are talkers.
What is your assessment of the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode administration of Lagos State?
I think with his emphasis on taxation, he is getting a lot of money and he is doing very well. He tries to take care of all the divisions of the state; 100 roads, 500 roads; so he makes the money to reach the grass roots. Only the grass roots consume the money before it gets to the masses, like my friend, in their council are busy ‘chopulating’ money and it does not to get to the masses.
But they are fighting for autonomous for local government and I think it is a good thing if it is autonomous, it will be very good because we are going to have quality people in politics at the grassroots. A good person who will come out as an independent candidate and win election and he would be a pain in the neck in the legislature.
Whatever they want to do, he would voice out and we need some changes, practical changes in our body politick.
So many state governors have not been able to meet up with payment of salaries, what do you think is responsible for it? And what do you think they should do?
For me, many of the state administrations are unnecessarily unwieldy. They cannot spend the budget of the state on paying salaries, so for me the next thing is to cut down the excessive expenditure for people to multi-task. They have a lot to take care of, roads, education, health, and so on. You can imagine when they will say recurrent expenditure is higher than capital expenditure.
And that means that ‘chopulating’ is more important than infrastructure development. These are the kind of nonsense that we see around. It is better that we maintain a narrow tight administration. Let them do infrastructural development, let there be visible development, and they will get more tax. When Babatunde Raji Fashola was there, you could see market women going to line up to pay their taxes willingly, without been compelled and that is a good sign. Down here, we are very lucky, but up there, they depend on the Federal Government.
How would you assess the opposition in Nigeria today?
There is no opposition. The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP has not gotten it right. They have ravaged the opposition and so, nobody takes them serious anymore. In fact, new political parties will constitute more relevant opposition than the PDP.
But the PDP is saying that it is poised to take over power from the All Progressives Congress, APC in 2019…
The PDP knows from their hearts of heart that they cannot get it; who is following them? May be those people that they give rice and beans. These are the people that are following them. But really, somebody who has been seeing Governor Ambode critically developing the state will now go and follow a Jimi Agbaje or somebody who has no pre-degree? No! No! No! The PDP is just noise maker.