Erudite lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to reorder his steps and give Nigeria proper leadership.
Olanipekun made the call in an interview with reporters at the dedication of the multi-million Naira Vice Chancellor’s Lodge which he built for the Ajayi Crowder University (ACU), Oyo, yesterday.
The legal luminary emphasized that some of the steps taken by Buhari’s administration, including plan to sell some national assets, are not good enough. He advised the President to invite the experts that can offer useful ideas on how the country can be better managed.
His words: “I am not interested in any political office and I am not begging for any position but I insist and I have a right to insist that Nigeria must be governed properly. And I am saying that today, Nigeria is not being governed properly. There is rudderlessness on the part of the government both at the federal, state and local government level. They are leaving things that they should do undone. The other day I heard Mr. President saying he would support the National Assembly to make the local government independent of the state government, what is the business of the Federal Government (FG) in that? Councils are under and belong to the state government. Why is the FG that is overburdened not concerned about his plights? We are not even running a federal system. What we are running is hydra-headed unitarism. So, why is the FG not saying we have too many items on the exclusive legislative list like tourism, fishery, agric etc? What has the FG got to do with that? So, why is the FG not encouraging the state to be more independent? Why is the FG not going to the real definition of real federalism? That is donation of residual powers by the federating units to the FG, not the other way round. Why is the FG not talking about security and to that extent, I’m talking of state police, strong police, university police? Why is the FG not talking about liberalizing INEC and making it more independent? Why is FG not talking about building institutions more than individuals? What we have in Nigeria today is powerful individuals,mnot powerful institutions. And the powerful individuals, if care is not taken, are already becoming lions and when lions roar, they will lionize and you know what will happen. They will devour. And I hope those individuals who are richer than Nigeria, because now they are richer than Nigeria, I pray they don’t devour us. A time will come when Nigeria will start borrowing from them to survive.”
He added: “In a country that wants revival, the leadership of that country will identify those who matter. They will identify people of substance who can give their all, not beggars. I don’t want anything from anybody. I don’t even want to be a minister. I don’t pray to become a governor, I am satisfied with where I am. I have helped a lot of people in my area and various other areas. So, it is not my duty to be going cap-in-hand to be going to any Governor’s Office or to any corridor that I want to advise them. A situation where you have legal issues in the country and people like us who have assisted many people to get to seat of power, a situation whereby my friend-governors who have legal problems do not contact me, I don’t think it is my duty to go and beg them to contact me. Who loses? The country loses in such a situation. In a situation where we are talking about economic recession, who are the people who are managing our economy? What do they know about economy and economies? It is not everything about the past governments that are bad. For example, has anyone of us gone back to the archieves to scrutinize those General Babangida appointed as ministers? I believe leadership must not be intimidated by some people in the country. Rather call them, use them and tap their brains, tap their resources.
“I am not an Igbo man, neither am I from the Niger Delta. But when you are talking about economic revival and restructuring and you are not calling someone like Pat Utomi. I think there is need to think again. At least, I have not mentioned a Yoruba names so that somebody won’t say I am tribalistic but wherever you have a nation that is held captive, you have to use those you have. Chief Obasanjo was talking about cabals. Who are the cabals? Let him mention them. He is our former president, so there should be no cabals.
” I have noticed that successive governments and heads of state have been held captive by powerful individuals and those powerful individuals don’t have the interest of Nigeria at heart. They are narrow-minded and self-centred.
“Now we are talking of reviving the economy and you want to sell all. Did Ethiopia that was ravaged by droughts nod which is the fastest growing economy in Africa today sell off its assets? Ethiopia Airline is one of the few airlines in the world that are making profit. Ethiopia has about two to four multinationals that they are using to revive the economy…
“And in that wise also, we need to plead with Mr. President. He needs to engage with Nigerians more. I don’t want to be hearing what the president says thru the aides every time. I want to hear the president himself. And my children and grand children want to hear what the president is telling them. That is how people like us grew up. I listened to and heard the likes of Awolowo speak, I heard Akintola and others, not the tales from Femi Adesina or Garba Shehu. The President must engage and feel the pulse of the people and again, there is too much distance and too much gap between the government and the govern.”
Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, who inaugurated the project, described Olanipekun as a godly man and a legal icon.
The governor said the vision was in line with his administration’s transformation agenda through which he revealed that he had removed development barriers.
Ajimobi called on other Nigerians to support education, stressing that government could not fully fund it.
At the programme were the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi 111, many top Anglican priests and the Chairman, Board of Trustees, emeritus prof. Ayo Banjo.