The South-west has always been in opposition and presently, the region has been instrumental to the emergence of Buhari as the president-elect. How will you assess the politics of the South-west in the present dispensation?
The politics of the South-west is the politics of the nation, the politics of liberty, the kind of politics where people will decide what is best for them at any given time. We must appreciate one thing: the success of APC was almost 90 percent determined by the nature of the candidate. If we didn’t have Buhari as candidate, the story would have been different. So I think Buhari brought the people of the North and the South-west together and through that we have achieved success. There was also a time when many states in the South-west were in PDP with the central government at that time, for instance, I was part of those who worked for the emergence of Governor Rashidi Ladoja in 2003, we were in PDP at that time. We worked together, we worked very hard and we won the election. It is not as if the Yoruba stuck to one political party. What is most important is that at every point in time, they rationalise the situation in the country and they take decisions which would be in the best interest of the people.
You were in PDP before, what drove you out of the party at the time?
I was one of the followers of Rashidi Ladoja at that time. And you will recall that he was illegally and unlawfully impeached through the machination of the Obasanjo-led government. So we didn’t have a choice and after the impeachment, we fought for him to be back. I will say with all humility that I put up the legal team for his reinstatement. When we came back, we thought that the party will accept to allow him to re-contest, but the party refused to even allow him to contest for the re-election. By that, we didn’t have a choice but to leave the party. When we left, of course, I pulled out and came to CPC because at that time Ladoja was foot-dragging as it were, and I felt that if you rationalise the situation, I’m supposed to team up with somebody with the same political ambition and whose moral standing is similar to my own and that was why I came out from that political group to join the CPC. I knew through past experiences, my academic attainments, social interactions through my political affiliations, I was qualified to contest in the election and so we went for the primary election, I won the primary and contested for the governorship of Oyo State under CPC.
What do you think Buhari should do first, looking at the challenges facing the country?
There are so many problems that Buhari has inherited from the past government. You will recall that the PDP-led administration has been in government for 16 years and it has left 16 years of rot, mismanagement, wastage and corruption. So if we say that General Buhari should just single out one thing to be tackled first, it would be like not appreciating the gargantuan nature of the problems that we inherited. For me, what is very important, which I believe Buhari will do, is that he is going to provide exemplary leadership, he is going to, for the first time in more than 30 years, make Nigerians feel proud of that government which is part of them, a government which understands their problems, a government which will lead in consonance with the yearnings and aspirations of the Nigerian people. Of course, Buhari has identified about three or four areas which he is going to work hard on them. The first one is anti- corruption. You remember when he was the military head of state, some people organised and removed him from office. If he was there for five years, I believe Nigeria would have been a better place than it is. Number two, is that he is going to work on the economy, you know the economy now is in a comatose situation. You will recall that even the federal government now has to borrow to pay salaries. Most states are also finding it difficult to pay. It is not that Nigeria is not a rich country, but corruption led us to the level that we are in today. It is my prayer that Buhari will be able to assemble a team of experts, a team of conscionable Nigerians who will have the right ideas to bring Nigeria out of the comatose position that we are in. Again, the issue of economy and unemployment, you will recall that youth and women in Nigeria constitute more than 60 percent of the population and majority of these are out of jobs. He will have to engage in critical planning aimed at ensuring that jobs are created.
How do you think Buhari would be able to meet peoples’ expectations, especially in the early life of his government?
He should remain himself, that can bring about the desired change. Recall that during the campaigns, he was facing the hate campaigns. The issue of corruption was mentioned and he said that in his previous years of public life, if anybody knew of his involvement in any corrupt practice, by as small as one naira, should come out and say it, nobody came out. Nigerians have discovered that and know that this man, if you don’t have water to drink, he will not have water to drink, if there is no electricity for the ordinary man, there will not be electricity for him. Once he has been able to establish that, I think Nigerians will have the patience that is required to make the necessary impact.