A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Vice-Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on National Security, Hon Ade Adeogun has declared that the only panacea to the myriads of challenges currently facing the country, especially insecurity, is good governance. In this interview with TUNDE THOMAS, the lawmaker who is currently representing Akoko South-East/South-West in the lower chambers, also speaks on the politics of 2023.
There has been on-going controversy over zoning and 2023, what’s your own stand? Do you believe in zoning and which geo-political zone in the country do you think should produce the next President?
As an individual, I am more concerned about good governance and national integration than where a President comes from. However, given the prevailing distrust in the nation, I think the most appropriate thing to do is to reach out to the zones that feel most marginalized. For the sake of restoring broader confidence in the entity called Nigeria, the political class must deliberately take actions that are geared toward lasting national integration. The quest for national integration should be of paramount concern to all of us.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) recently announced that its national chairman will come from the North. This is being construed as a signal that its presidential candidate will come from the South. Do you think that the APC should do likewise?
The ruling party and the opposition party should not be expected to toe the same path, except where interests align. My advice is that you should not misconstrue the zoning of the national chairman of a party with the presidential candidate. Please, look beyond the media theatrics and read between the lines. I expect the ruling party to pursue a policy of fairness, not necessarily zoning.
Agitation for self determination is growing in the country. Do you think the Federal Government is handling the agitations for self-determination from across the country the right way?
Most of the agitations masquerading as separatist agitations are merely ways of expressing the displeasure with some aspects of governance. Most of these agitations arise from two issues: first, perceived political marginalization, and secondly, economic inadequacies. If we manage to address these two challenges, we will be moving towards eliminating the issues you described as self-determination. However, I think the Federal Government is handling the security aspect of these challenges, but a lot more is desired to regain the confidence and trust of all the component parts of Nigeria.
Nigeria recently turned 61, what’s your assessment of the journey so far?
Nigeria is like an elephant that has chosen to keep the company of antelopes. It will never achieve its potential until it occupies its proper place in the jungle. To do that, it must first understand that it is an elephant, and not an antelope. Then it must rise up to take its proper place among mammoths, rather than malingering among animals of lesser potential.
What do you think is the solution to the myriad of challenges confronting the country?
The panacea to the myriad of challenges facing us are good governance, a shared vision, a collective desire to live together in harmony, and a shift in economic focus from being consumer based to being production based.
Although some believe that the dearth of leadership is the problem of Nigeria, while others think that the followership also contributed, but my own take is that our leadership deficiency can be viewed from the perspective of cause and effect. Bad followers beget bad leadership and bad leadership attracts bad followers. It’s like two different sides of the same coin.
Some Nigerians have been expressing fear and concerns about 2023 as a result of insecurity, and other challenges. Do you harbour such fear?
I absolutely have no fear at all. 2023 will come, and contrary to the expectation of doomsday prophets, Nigerians will once more show the world that it has ingenious peculiar ways of solving its own problems. Nigerians need not to express unnecessary fears about 2023.We should all work together for peace and unity in the country, and whatever challenges we may have, I believe that through dialogue we can surmount them. We should all see ourselves as one. We should work towards ensuring the realisation of the dreams of the nation’s founding fathers that Nigeria become a great nation.
There is this renew clamour for generational shift in the leadership of Nigeria? What is your take on this?
Should age really be a yardstick for leadership attainment? Should a potentially good leader be excluded on the basis of age? I really think what we need at this stage is a President with a contemporary worldview, who can unite all segments of the nation, and bring all the citizens, irrespective of ethnicity, religion, economic class, age or sex to share in one common vision of unity and prosperity. Age, like ethnicity, should not be the overwhelming prerequisite. Rather we should be seeking a President with a pan-Nigeria vision, who is imbued with the capability to bring out the best out of our citizens, have an excellent understanding of macro-economic principles and understands the aspirations of the younger generation.
As Vice Chairman, National Security Committee of the House of Representatives, what step do you think needs to be taken to tackle the security situation of the country, which seems to go from bad to worse on daily basis?
The steps to be taken are multi-dimensional. We first need to address the root causes of our security challenges, which include: poverty, unemployment, and slow judicial administration; and we must take urgent steps to build our law enforcement capability to address insecurity.
I will also like to attribute the immediate cause of worrying insecurity in our country to economic deprivation and poverty. A lot of our citizens are jobless, hungry and angry, hence they have resorted to crime as a means of economic sustenance. Added to that is the poor capacity of the law enforcement agencies to protect the citizens and forestall crime. It is a fact that when people find it easy to commit crime without repercussions, the tendency is for others to see crime as a viable option. Lastly, as a nation, our leaders have not been acting or speaking in ways that discourage criminal tendencies. So where wealth is celebrated without questioning its source; and where leaders flaunt ill-gotten wealth, citizens are bound to adopt a get rich quick mentality.
What do you think are the panacea to these security challenges?
We must address the issue of good governance. Poor governance is the foundation of our situation; and we need to reverse the trend, such that government is able to provide for the welfare and security of the citizens. We also need to build the capacity of the law enforcement agencies to maintain law and order. Crime will reduce once the law enforcement agencies show capacity to ensure that no crime goes unpunished and are able to safeguard lives and property of even the lowliest among us.
Some Southern governors have banned open grazing in their respective states. Do you think this is a panacea to the persistent clash between herdsmen and farmers?
The ban on open grazing is a necessity, given the violence attributed to the activities of armed cattle herders across the country. It is a measure being adopted to safeguard the lives and properties of farmers and other law abiding citizens. I am of the opinion that the states should however take steps to support those engaged in herding in their business, beside the ban on open grazing, I think the state governors should take us very far away from what should be our main focus.
Nothing also stops us from adopting the ranching system which is in vogue now across the world. Ranching will save us a lot of headache. It will put a stop to all these crises here, and there. It is heart-warming that some state governments have expressed interest in that regard.
How will you rate the performance of the members in the current National Assembly in view of the fact that it has become a subject of debate among Nigerians with people having diverse views and opinions?
We have fared well in attracting Federal Government interventions in the areas ranging from road infrastructure to welfare interventions, to address the pressing needs of our people.
Then to being specific, and using my own case as an example, during my pre-electioneering campaign, I crisscrossed communities in the constituency, interacted with the constituents and was able to identify the core challenges they face. From every analysis, we came to the conclusion that the core challenges bordered on unemployment, low human capacity development, non-existent micro economy and poor infrastructure. Consequently I assured them that if I was elected, I would give them a strong voice in Abuja and ensure that steps are taken to address the challenges that seems to impair the quality of life they live. So far, we have attempted to address some of these issues.
The need to build the human capacity of the constituency is the first and major push for our investment in education in our constituency. We needed to intervene to provide a second chance for our young girls, especially, whose education were truncated by early marriages and teenage pregnancies. We also intervened to provide opportunities for indigent education-loving youths to have access to tertiary education.
As a legislator, I have given the constituency a voice at the national scene, unlike in the past, when their representatives were back benchers. As we speak, I have four bills that have gone through the early stages of passage, to address issues such as business skills and incubation centres, firearms reforms, fire service reforms and other areas capable of creating new jobs, whilst strengthening the capacity of law enforcement agencies to provide security for the citizens.