How Nigeria’s Problem started with Tafawa Balewa’s assassination—Sen. Bucknor-Akerele + Why APC Govt. is a disaster

Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele, Former Deputy Governor of Lagos State

Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele
is the former Deputy Governor of Lagos State (South
West Nigeria) during the first tenure of Senator
Bola Ahmed Tinubu
between 1999 and 2003. She resigned from the cabinet on
December 16th, 2002 after a political misapprehension between
herself and her boss snowballed into a larger crisis that warranted her
resignation when loyalists of Tinubu
in the State House of Assembly moved motion for impeachment against her.
The impeccably gifted woman of style
and oratory decided to take a bold step; she resigned from power and put the
government to shame in her own remarkable effort. Her successor, Mr. Femi Pedro, a banker was given a worse treatment as he was equally
sacked in 2007 by the same assembly that made a move to impeach Bucknor-Akerele. Therefore, she became
the first political office holder at her level, and in a state like Lagos to
resign her position without recourse to any political gratification.  
Senator Bucknor-Akerele  who is a former Senator of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria is also a member of the Pan Yoruba socio-political
group, Afenifere and a distinguished
member of the Yoruba Unity Forum
founded by late Chief Mrs. Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo and late Ooni 
of Ile-Ife
, Oba Okunade
Sijuade
(Olubuse II).
In a rare exclusive encounter with
your Africa’s Number 1 Celebrity Encounter blog Asabeafrika, Senator
Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele
shared her pains on Nigeria, the political
elites and the ruling APC government with us.  Enjoy the excerpts…


As a veteran in the political
industry, can you say you are happy with the present state of Nigeria?

A sad Nigerian appears in the Distinguished Senator and former Deputy Governor of Lagos, Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele

Well, I am
very sad at what is happening in Nigeria
today. Never in my wildest dreams would I ever imagine that some of the things
that are happening in Nigeria today
would happen in our country.
Recently I interviewed General David Jemibewon in Ibadan and he expressed same view of
anger and disappointment, and to some extent he expressed the views that his
generation must have disappointed this country. Do you really think your
generation has failed the country?

The GDA meets Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele

Well, I
wouldn’t say our generation failed Nigeria.
I think what failed Nigeria was the military because it was when the military
took over that our problems began. And we have been in it ever since.
Analysts believe it was the political
class who messed up and gave the military a chance to strike and eventually
dominate the polity. Looking back at the political incidences of the 1st
and 2nd republic, and even now in the present republic?

Sen. Bucknor-Akerele….’I refuse to agree that the political class gave the Army the chance to take power by force’

I don’t
think the political class gave a chance for the military to intrude and mess things up. I think the military came
in and messed things up. Because in any country, there is always power struggle
in politics and usually the politicians manage to resolve it one way or the
other. But with the military intervention, it seems to have cancelled the
growth of Nigeria and has taken us
way, way, way back. And if you look at it, in the 60s (with our kind of
political development) we should have been like one of the Asian tigers by now but we are not, why? Because the military came
in and if we are saying they messed up, yes, of course, they messed up. They
were no better than the politicians; they were just politicians in Military
uniform. 
I interviewed Chief Ezekiel Fatoye the Co-Founder of Multilinks Telephone last year and I asked him when did Nigeria
started to derail into a state of abysmal corruption and underdevelopment and
he said it all began under General Murthala with the sacking of the federal
civil servants and that led to a culture shock that eventually made new
generation of civil servants began to enrich themselves abnormally. Do you
share this same view? Where did we get it wrong?

Late Tafawa Balewa….His ills lies in his assassination by the mutinous army

I think we
got it wrong with the assassination of the Prime
Minister Tafawa
Balewa
and the Sardauna (Late Sir Ahmadu
Bello)
, and which led, of course, to the civil war. That is where we
started to get it wrong. I am not saying General Murthala didn’t make a mistake by sacking so many of the civil servants.
But he, I think, meant well but he might have been misguided and he as a
military man didn’t fully understand the workings of the civil service in
government.
You think Nigeria started having her
crisis right from the killings of Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa, Ahmadu Bello
and the rest?

Late General Murthala….his mistake was breaking the rank and file of the civil service

Yes, the
first coup was when Nigeria started
deteriorating because that was the first time I saw a car drive off a one way
road and it was a military vehicle.
So, what did that do your psyche at
the time, as a young girl growing up in Nigeria?  
Of course I
was shocked but then, this spoke of impunity; and lack of regard for the rule
of law has persisted and what we are getting now is as a result of that. We are
having Boko Haram, we are having Badoo, we are having militants, kidnapping, armed robbery,
everything is just getting from bad to worse.
Let’s even talk about the many
symptoms you raised, we now have an eastern Nigeria under the voodoo
manifestation of one Nnamdi Kanu
asking for a Republic of Biafra, we
have a Niger-Delta that has mastered the art of kidnapping and even imported it
to the South West, we equally have a vicious Badoo cult group that go into people’s houses in Lagos State to break skulls and draw
blood and there in the northern part, we have Boko Haram and the Herdsmen palaver. Don’t you think we need to go
apart like Lord Luggard advised in
his 100 years

Sen. Bucknor-Akerele to Asabeafrika…’I don’t believe we should go apart’

treaty?

I personally
don’t think that the country should disintegrate. What I believe is that we can
actually have devolution of power for the state, because the constitution which
we had at independence dissolved power to the various regions as they were at
that time and I believe we should go back to that because our leaders at that
time sat down with the British who
were our colonial masters and tried to figure out a way where Nigerians could live together in
harmony. And we were living together in harmony but the unfortunate thing of
course was that the British favored
the north because they realized that the north were not challenging them in the
same way as the south was.

Sen. Bucknor-Akerele ‘The British favored the North against the South because the South was too intelligent to stoop low’

We in the south were challenging them educationally,
we were saying ‘I go to the same
university as you so why should I really cow-tow to you, why should I get less
paid, I am equal to you. My brain is equal to yours in many cases and even
better than yours’
; and the British saw
that and then decided that it is better to put people who are ready to cow-tow
to them in charge of Nigeria and this
is where we had a huge northern region with the living space less to the south,
not taking into consideration the problems in the Middle Belt because the middle belt people are not the same as the Hausa Fulani of the far north.

But after the predicted 100 years by
Lord Luggard, do you think it make sense that we go apart since we are now talking
about re-structuring?

Sen. Bucknor-Akerele….’The North is afraid of restructuring’

Well,
restructuring is not for people to go apart. Restructuring mean that we should
change the political set-up of Nigeria
and the administrative set-up in the country; you know we had a conference in
2014. I was a member of that conference and we came up with a document that has
ideas of what should happen but unfortunately the APC government has confined the result of that conference to the
archives. They have not decided to look at it; until the recent window dressing
by the lawmakers at the Senate and
the House of Assembly. That is not
exactly what a re-structuring is all about. Restructuring is going back and devolving
power back to the states. In that document, we made recommendation that the
state has the powers which they had as independent. We said that states that
wanted to join together should join together.

Sen. Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele to Asabeafrika….’2014 Confab Report has many brilliant options for Nigeria’

We said that we could have our
own police force in the state because ‘how
can you bring somebody from Maiduguri who doesn’t speak a word of Yoruba and
you put him in Iseyin and you expect him to be able to police the place, it is
not possible’.
There are various things in that document which were
recommended, that in fact, each state should have her own justice system; after
all we have various states in the United States.
Each state in the United State has
its own parliament, they have their own law, they have their own courts and
this is what we are recommending for Nigeria.
And we are saying that what is absolute is that we should then contribute to
the central purse, the Federal Government
should be in charge of foreign policy, defense and one or two other things. But
it appears that some people that are benefiting from the current set-up don’t
want restructuring to take place. I will give you the example of Lagos State; we have 20 Local Government
(Councils), we have the same population with Kano state. I think when Kano
was on its own, it had 42 (LGAs). Now, Jigawa
was carved out of Kano, now they have
70 and Lagos State has 20.

So Kano & Jigawa has 70 LGAs

Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele explaining a point to the GDA

Yes,
combined. Is that a fair narration? Then, take the Niger-Delta area, the Niger-Delta
people have never been in charge of the oil that is pumped out of their
soil. In fact, they are suffering, their land is being devastated and the
government has made promises that they are going to clean it up and it is going
to take 20 years but from what I understand, they have not even started in 20
months. So, you see where few of the problems are hiding and I think we have to
sit down, look at that document of 2014 and decide and say ‘alright, how are we going to manage this (problems) that we can all live together and feel that
we are having a fair share in this stage of our growth as a country’
.
Let me ask you this; because when
President Buhari came on board, he boldly said the 2014 National Conference
document is only beautiful for the archives. Do you think the APC government is
afraid of that document and what do you think are the fears?

The Senator speaks with the GDA

Of course
the APC government is dominated by the north. Although they were helped by the South West to get into power; so I see APC really as a northern party and the
north as a people are afraid of this re-structuring and I don’t know why they
are afraid because they have so many mineral resources in the north which is a
blessing. The north will probably become wealthier even than the Niger-Delta Area.
You think Northern Nigeria has more
mineral resources compared to the Niger-Delta area?

Sen. Bucknor Akerele to Asabeafrika….’Northern Nigeria has more mineral resources than the south’

Oh yes! They
have all sorts; they have gold, they have precious stones and all sorts of (mineral)
resources.
So, why should they be afraid of
restructuring?
It is
because they are benefiting from the status-quo and they are not ready to
exploit what they have.
If you must be sincere, do you think
this government has done well in the last two years. Do you think we are really
on the path to glory?

President Muhammadu Buhari….Has his regime turned around people’s lives? Sen. Bucknor-Akerele disagrees

Sorry, I
think this government has been a disaster, a complete disaster. If you look at
it, people are starving, I think (late) Umaru
Dikko
said Nigerians were not eating from the dustbin but Nigerians are now
eating from dustbins in order to survive and that is a tragic situation.
Because I think they have got it all wrong economically.
But where did you think the whole
thing went wrong because hope was strong during the campaign?

Minister of Information Lai Mohammed, Sen. Kofo Bucknor-Akerele knocks the government

Well, I
don’t think anything went wrong. I felt we got false promises. They knew that
Nigerians were gullible people and Nigerians always want something for nothing
and so they promised heaven and earth when they knew that heaven and earth
could not be delivered. This is really the thing; this is a government that is
not honest with the people. They promised that the Naira would become $1 to 1 Naira. How do they expect to do that
when at that time it was about $165 to
1 Naira, I don’t know how they
expected they were going to be able to do it, and especially at that time when
oil prices had already fallen. Oil price did not fall during Buhari’s time, oil prices have already
fallen during Jonathan’s time.
Let’s even visit the Jonathan era,
with the kind of information coming out every day in the newspapers, blogs,
radio and television about high level corruption by officials of the Jonathan’s
government especially the former minister of oil, Dieziani Alison Madueke. How
do you feel about that regime?

Ex-Oil Minister under PDP’s government, Dieziani Madueke….A thief or not a tief?

Well, as far
as I am concerned, until somebody is prosecuted and convicted they are being
presumed innocent. We know a lot of politics is involved in some of these
revelations that are being made. So I will like that those who are making the
allegations prosecute the people and make sure there are convictions, then we
will know.  Then, when we are talking
about probe, all the people in APC,
have anybody investigated them?
You mean all the people in APC?
Yes. Have
anybody bothered to investigate them; people know that the faults are there in APC,
APGA and all of this various political parties. It is just that because APC is in power at the moment, they feel
that they can use that to try and disseminate the ills of the opposition.
Let’s quickly go to the issue of 37%
affirmative Act for Women in politics which was shot down last week by the
Nigerian senate under the leadership of Mr. Bukola Saraki. That bill was shot
down due to lack of moral force from the senators, as a former senator and a
woman administrator, how did you feel when you heard it?

Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele….Angry with Senate President Bukola Saraki?

Well, I was
very disappointed with that; but on the other hand I wasn’t disappointed
because I think the men in Nigeria
are backward. They should go and look at what is happening in other countries,
in South Africa, in Uganda, in Tanzania, you see that affirmative action is taking place in those
countries and the women have a share. After all, women are 60% if not more of
the population. So why should they be excluded; and you know what the
disadvantages of women are. Because they are home makers, they do not have the
capacity to go out and sought for business and make the kind of money men make.
Let’s face it, if you want to go into politics you need money and which is why
other countries have affirmative action which we have refused to adapt in our
democratic space.
As a former Senator of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria if you are chanced to speak with Senator Bukola Saraki and
his senate, what would you tell them?

The Senators speaks as the GDA listens with rapt attention

I will just
tell them that they should stop portraying Nigeria
as a backward country that is still living in the Middle Ages and not living in
the 21st century.
So you think they (senate) should
re-consider that item?
Oh,
definitely.
And the Nigerian women should be
given their 37% affirmative Act?
Yes,
definitely.
Do you ever think that a woman will
one day become a President of Nigeria?
I hope so,
maybe not in my life time but I hope so
(Cuts in) That a woman will become a
President in Nigeria?
Yes, why
not. I mean, let’s face it. Are any of the men who are there now better than
any of the women who are in politics today or who are in the various professions?
They certainly are not; a lot of women are far better. They have better brains
than they (men) have.
(Cuts in) But analysts will also see
the Dieziani Madueke and Stella Odua examples and feel bad with Nigerian Women.
They will not also agree that Okonjo Iweala did well as a finance minister?

Sen. Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele to Asabeafrika….’I don’t know if Okonjo Iwealah did so poor but her economy was not as worsts as the present economy’

I don’t know
whether Okonjo-Iweala didn’t do well.
But at least, the economy was not in the same shambles that it is now with the
man in charge. Which kind of country do you have about five different rates of
exchange and they are just encouraging round tripping, and that is what is
shutting this economy down. Then, look at the current interest rate charge and
you expect people to start businesses with that? When America had their problem, they lowered interest rates to 1% at one
stage. And that was how people were able to borrow money and do businesses. But
you have made it difficult, you say you want to create jobs but you have made
it difficult for people to do business and therefore they have all gone to
places where the atmosphere is more conducive for doing business.
 Even while driving down to your place this
morning, we saw a lot of empty buildings with ‘To Let’, ‘ To Lease’ etc hung on
them yet with no one living in there. Is that also a sign of the bad economy?

The Senator explains the distress in the economy to the GDA

Yes, because
most of the companies are folding up. People who are running the businesses are
no more in business so you cannot find tenants in those buildings. Especially
in Apapa and maybe in this area
(Victoria Island) we have majority of them as expatriates, company employees
who live in some of those properties. But if the companies have folded up, then
where are you going to get the tenants? So the economy is in a deep mess.
 It appears to me that your former party Alliance
for Democracy is almost getting back on the scene with the kind of efforts the
party made in the last LGA elections in Lagos State. Do you think there is hope
for AD’s return?
Well, I am
not sure AD can come back and be strong but one can never tell. It all depends
on how they can birth the right system.
It appears even Afenifere your group has
broken into two with the renewal group by Yinka Odunmakin and co, and the old
group. It seems there is an atmosphere of disunity and you are also in the
Yoruba Unity Forum (YUF) what is the problem with this Yoruba groups?

Sen. Bucknor-Akerele….’There is no division in Yoruba but greed of interest by few’

No, no, no
it seems you don’t know something. The Yoruba
Unity Forum
(YUF) is the umbrella body formed by Chief Mrs. (HID) Awolowo and the late Ooni of Ife (Oba Okunade Sijuade) to bring all the Yoruba
organizations under one umbrella. So Afenifere
is a member of the Yoruba Unity Forum.
There is Afenifere Renewal Group which was a group founded by Tinubu when he wanted to break up the AD (in 2008) and that is another group
all together.
You mean people like Yinka Odumakin are actually working for Bola Ahmed Tinubu in one instance?
No, Odunmakin is in the Afenifere proper which a member of the Yoruba Unity Forum. It is
the Afenifere Renewal Group that is
at the moment outside. But they are trying to bring them on board.
So, what do you think is the real
problem with the Yoruba race, you as a proper Yoruba woman and elder
stateswoman, why do you think there are divisions among the Yorubas and what is
the panacea?

Sen. Bucknor-Akerele to Asabeafrika….’I don’t know if Buhari loves Yorubas but i know he loves Hausa-Fulani’

Well, I am
not sure there is a problem with the Yoruba.
But I think there are some people within Yoruba who because of their personal
interest, are not thinking of the overall interest of the Yoruba as a group.
And therefore they have come our way and are working with other groups outside
the Yoruba.
Do you really think President Muhammadu Buhari loves the Yoruba
from your own perspective as a leader?
Well, I
cannot know whether he loves Yoruba
or not. All I know is that he loves the Fulani
and the Hausa-Fulani.
Analysts have described the 8th
Senate as one of the worst in history especially with the antecedent of some of
the leading lights of that chamber. As a former Senator of the Federal Republic
and a political juggernaut, what is your perception of the 8th
senate?

The GDA introducing ‘Nigeria: Beyond Divorce’ to Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele

Well, all I
know is that when we were in the senate, the senate was always full. But now,
when I look at the television I find out that people are not in the senate. All
the seats are empty—three-quarter of the seats are empty all the time. I just
wonder is happening.
Oh, you mean they are lazy and never
show up for their duties?
Yes.
Do you support the view that their
work in the chamber should be limited to part time?

The GDA Presents General Sam Momah’s Book ‘Nigeria: Beyond Divorce’ to Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele

Well,
personally I believe that they should be part time; because from what I am
seeing, I don’t think it is a full time job. I don’t think it is full time jobbing
those who there are doing.
(Read Part 2 of the Senator
Bucknor-Akerele Exclusive titled “Atiku is the Reason I fell out with Tinubu
& How APC rigged LGA elections” on this blog shortly)

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