A parliamentarian in the First and Second Republic, Senator Ayo Fasanmi, in this interview with TUNDE ODESOLA, bares his mind on topical issues
What’s your assessment of Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s administration?
I’ve been in Osogbo for over 60 years. I’ve been involved in politics. I know that when Chief Bisi Akande was the Governor of Osun State, a lot of achievements were recorded. Akande developed Osun by contributing his quota. In 2003, the Peoples Democratic Party came on board and we all know what the PDP did for over seven and a half years. Since Mr. Rauf Aregbesola came on board for over two years, there have been tremendous developments all over the state. Take a look at the roads being built across the state.
These roads will help improve the economic situation of the state because farmers and investors can move their goods and services about. Look at the education sector; just imagine what Aregbesola has done to raise the value of education – free computer device to students and teachers, training and retraining of teachers, free meals for pupils, ongoing mega school construction, free uniforms, slashing of high school fees in UNIOSUN, Osun State Polytechnic, Osun State Colleges of Education and Osun State College of Technology. The health sector also tells the same story. Drugs are now available in hospitals. The infrastructural decay we witnessed in the past is now changing. It’s remarkable for the government to provide 40, 000 jobs within two years. We’ve never had it so good. I must say there’s a silent revolution going on in Osun by the Aregbesola team. Mention any sector of the economy which has not been touched phenomenally in the past two years despite the state’s low allocation. I should not take sides at my age but if somebody is doing well, he’s doing well. The truth must be told.
Aregbesola has been accused of pursuing Islamisation agenda. What’s your view on this?
I think the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Sunday Akere, has refuted the allegation. There are people who are looking for all sorts of subterfuge to discredit Aregbesola. If you look at the composition of Aregbesola’s cabinet, there are more Christians than there are Muslims. The way he’s been dealing with people of all faiths shows that he’s not on an Islamisation agenda. The same thing goes for his deputy, Mrs. Titi Laoye-Tomori. I think that allegation is like calling a dog a bad name in order to hang it. I understand the leadership of the House has invited the state chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria. Religious issues are very sentimental. I know Aregbesola to be a devout Muslim but I don’t think he has done anything to Islamise the state. It’s not possible for anyone to promote Islamisation in the South-West, where families are interwoven. I’m a Christian but we must be careful the way we discuss religion; we should resist any attempt by any group to import religious crisis into Osun.
What’s your view of the FG’s fight against terrorism?
President Goodluck Jonathan has disappointed many Nigerians by the way he’s managing the issue of terrorism. The fight against terrorism still leaves so much to be desired. Imagine a situation where people will go to Army barracks, parks, schools and churches to kill people. When you get to a situation where Army barracks can be invaded, what fate would befall the ordinary citizens? People are being killed and kidnapped wantonly. Any government that fails to guarantee the security of people’s lives has no business staying in power. In this light, Jonathan has woefully failed. It is saddening that police stations, banks, schools etc are being invaded in daylight operations. The score-sheet of the Federal Government in combating terrorism is poor. It is a national issue and a national disgrace. We budget so much money on security, where does the money go to? In order to combat terrorism, we must not see it has only affecting a part of the country; we must come together and have a national discussion on it. We must not leave the matter solely to President Goodluck Jonathan alone. We are far from winning the battle against terrorism. Terrorists have taken over in some parts of the country. We must evolve ways to restore sanity, law and order. If a young man who graduated five or six years ago is yet to get a job, the devil finds a job for an idle hand. A society, where some people are so rich and some are so poor is a fertile ground for terrorism. As long as we continue to have corruption among the leadership, terrorism will continue to thrive. We have made Nigeria an unsafe place for even foreigners working here. 2015 is around the corner, God in His infinite mercy has arranged that a group of people come together and form All Progressives Congress. 2015 should be a remarkable year of change for Nigeria.
Why is the formation of APC causing so much controversy in the polity?
The Peoples Democratic Party has been in power for the past 14 years and you and I know exactly what has been happening in the past 14 years. Where we have succeeded in taking one positive step forward, we have taken two steps backward. The PDP knows that its days are numbered. You can see what is happening in the South-West states where the ACN is governing. If Muhammadu Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change and the ACN and other parties come together, the PDP will fall.
PDP prides itself as the largest party in Africa…..
PDP is the largest in terms of corruption in Africa. It is big for nothing. It is the largest nuisance in Nigeria. The coming of APC appears to be God-sent. The merger is a God-sent arrangement. Any attempt to frustrate the merger will fail because people are clamouring for change. I’m only appealing to the opposition parties coming together not to be deterred by the antics of the PDP. They must show selflessness and jettison selfishness. In 2014, the signals will be clear after elections are conducted in Osun and Ekiti states. By that time, the PDP will know that Nigerians are showing them a red card.
On Boko Haram, we, as Christians, are in the Lenten period. As long as a sinner repents and decides to give up on the evil of the past, God said he would be forgiven. But if you are going to give anybody amnesty, you must see genuine sense of repentance. These people promised that they will ceasefire but did they? Are they truly repentant? If we make the mistake of giving amnesty to an unrepentant group, other groups might adopt Boko Haram style and say that they too will be given amnesty after committing grievous crimes against humanity. The nation must be careful so that she doesn’t send a wrong signal indicating that crime pays. Violence will beget violence. It is wrong to take the lives of innocent people worshipping in churches and people working in the state. If they repent, I will support amnesty for them but if they do not, I will say no. Must we succumb to terrorism? Have members of the sect who have been arrested tried? Who are their leaders? Are they faceless people? Are they prepared to lay down their arms? As it is now, we must begin to think about other options. Basically, we must improve the quality of life. This option is better than amnesty. When a big man commits a crime in Nigeria, he’s given a slap on the wrist and allowed to go home. A thief who steals a cup of rice is sentenced to prison.
Do you agree with the state pardon granted a former Governor of Bayelsa State, Dieprieye Alamieyeseigha?
A man left England dressed as a woman in order to escape justice. He comes to Nigeria and you gave him pardon. We must take a critical look at these issues. This is disgraceful. This same man is wanted abroad over corruption charges.
The approval of N4bn for African First Ladies secretariat in Abuja has come under severe criticisms. What’s your view?
It’s ‘squandermania’ par excellence. You want to spend N4bn for First Ladies to operate. It is scandalous. You’re squandering such a colossal amount in a country where the generality of the people do not have two square meals a day. The same thing goes for the building of Vice- President Namadi Sambo’s house in Abuja. There are many unemployed graduates these sums of money would take away from the streets. Many of these youths took to crime as a result of their inability to cope with economic pressure. It has always been my belief that progressive elements must come together to salvage the nation. Their coming together must not be based on selfish interest.
I’m very proud of our governors in the South-West; Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo), Ibikunle Amosu (Ogun), Babatunde Fashola (Lagos), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti). Within two years, they have turned their states around. If they can do all that in two years, I’m sure Nigeria will be the better for it if these set of leaders come on board via the APC.
Is there cause for the country to celebrate her 100 years of existence?
What are you celebrating in corruption, insecurity, infrastructural decay, unemployment? What do we have to celebrate in 100 years? There’s a national emergency in the country. The country is going into ruins. Nobody is safe. When trouble starts, you only know how it starts, you don’t know how it will end. Look at what is happening to the PDP. There’s problem within the PDP in Ekiti, Ondo, Adamawa, Bayelsa states. The PDP is on an irreversible stage of disintegration. If Alamieyeseigha can be granted pardon, what has become the fight against corruption in the country? Good luck to Goodluck.