Behind the façade of his quiet mien and heavily framed figure lies a well informed personality who’s no doubt one of the nation’s firebrand politicians, that’s Hon. Solomon Olamilekan Adeola popularly known as Yayi. The unassuming lawmaker who’s the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts & Internal Audit was recently a host of honour at the chit chat session organized by the League of Soft-Sell Publishers where he fielded questions on sundry issues of national importance. Hon. Adeola, known and widely addressed as YAYI is also the All Progressives Congress candidate contending for the oval seat of the nation’s largest senatorial district, Lagos West that boasts of 10 local governments in the forthcoming March 28th, 2015 elections. In this no-hold-barred chat session, the handsome and intelligent lawmaker takes a critical look at the nation’s nascent democracy as well as its deceptive gains and losses. You would enjoy the interesting session monitored by the duo of National Enquirer’s News Editor, Faith Irabor and Reporter Researcher, Bose Bamidele.
Incursion Into Politics
As we are all aware that Nigeria democratic rule started in the year 1999 when everyone was skeptical and pessimistic asking if it would be or not. I was a victim of the 1993 struggle; I lost my younger brother to a stray bullet during the bonfire exercise when we had the cancellation of the most free and fair election that was held in this nation through the process of electioneering. And we believed that since the military had succeeded in cancelling this electioneering process, then there is no hope, we shall continue with the military rule, so everybody was like “return to your tents O’Israel”… until 1998 when the adjudged winner of the June 1993 12 polls, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola died. There were lots of issues in the country, the idea that Nigeria would break up, the fear that the existence of the country would come to an end. Virtually a month later, General Sanni Abacha followed and at that period, everyone believed firmly that these two were the cause of the uproar we were having in Nigeria. Then General Abdulsalam Abubakar came into power. He promised that he would be handing over to a democratic rule by 1999 and I am of the firm belief that none of us here believed it would happen. We felt another joker had been sent to us. Lo and behold in1999, a democratically elected president was sworn in as the president of the federal republic of Nigeria, in person of Chief Olusegun Mathew Okikiola Obasanjo. Despite that fact, we were still skeptical; but Obasanjo came on board and a democratic government began. In 1999 we were full of hope because there is the saying that the worst democratic rule is better than the best military rule. From my own interpretation then, I believed it was because of the decrees involved with military rules, once the military decrees, you have no choice…know it too that the judiciary is under the mercy of the military government, they have no independence like in a democratic set up. In the democratic process, we are governed by the constitution of the federal republic which was even passed to us by the military, yet we make do with what we have and we began the process. After 1999, there was the need for another four years and Obasanjo re-contested and the issue went on without any military intervention. Then, pressure started mounting on me to contest for a public office. Mind you, I was doing very well in my private business and I was of the belief then that if I left certainty for uncertainty, what would become of me? My personal business even as at that time was enough for me and I will say that if given another chance to choose, I would stay with that business. You would have known me on a different platform if I had stuck to my business. But I chose the service to humanity at the expense of my personal interest. I contested to represent my people of Alimosho constituency 02 as honorable member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, that I did and God crowned my effort, by the grace of God we won and I was elected into office to represent the good people of Alimosho constituency 02.
Dividends Of The Nascent Democracy
Now how has Nigeria democracy fared in my own perspective from 1999 till date? My dear brothers, publishers of soft sell magazine, I will say Nigeria democracy has not been fair to the Nigerians as a whole, if you look at the following indices and data which I will be reeling out, it would be clear that those of us who have the opportunity of serving in government at different levels, we will know that today Nigeria deserves better than what it is getting. But due to insincerity on the part of our leaders and due to lack of focus by those who should have changed this nation for good, what we have today is a mere nascent democracy and not the democracy we craved for while there was military rule. Let us ask ourselves, from 1999 till date how much we have accrued through the federal government, from the one and only source of revenue where we rely solely…that is from oil. Outside the oil industry, I for one do not know of any other source that the nation relies on for revenue. Let us look at the corresponding expenditure and marry it to see how we have been able to fair under a democratic process. Ordinarily, democracy by its definition ought to be a government of the people by the people, and for the people. But this time around what we have is different. A lot of us are not even interested in the system, we always say “don’t mind them, let them do their thing, they know how they do it” and that is what has led us to where we are and I think now that we have a lot of awareness in town, everybody is interested for the future of this country to be secured, for its wellbeing to be guaranteed and for us to change this country for good. Everybody is interested in the process; and we see it as a welcomed development because until we start electing good leaders and sending out bad leaders, Nigeria will not change. Let’s assume 1999 till date the resolution was we want to fix the power sector. If ordinarily, power is fixed, 60% of Nigeria’s challenges will disappear. It is a statement of fact…but because we have an insincere government, a government that is not interested in the general welfare of its people. During the tenure of Olusegun Obasanjo, there was a claim that they expended $8.7 billion (US) into the power sector, it’s no longer news that the Jonathan administration has equally released its own figure about $8 billion (US) too, added together we have close to 17billion US dollars expended into the power sector and as we speak, the total megawatts generated by our dear nation of about 180million citizens, over 251 ethnic groups and over 251 languages, the biggest country in Africa is still under 4,000megawatts.
While South Africa as at the last time we checked was 160,000 megawatts. Ordinarily, using that as a measure of development, you will know we are not there.
The Deception About Nigeria’s Economy Being The Biggest In Africa
Of recent there was the news in town that Nigeria’s economy was the biggest in Africa. I know if we are sincere with ourselves, everyone was taken aback by that submission. Using my office as the Chairman, House Committee On Public Accounts and Internal Audit, I invited the Chief Executive officer of the Bureau of Statistics who did that job and sold the lie to the whole world what almost caused crisis in the nation. He was invited everywhere to come and speak to justify how he came about that figure that gave Nigeria the status of biggest economy in Africa we have ascribed to ourselves...because to my understanding, we have only ascribed it to ourselves since it doesn’t really reflect. So I called this man to my office and said to him;
“DG, you know I am an Accountant even though I am not an Economist, but this figures you have reeled out, I need to hear from you one on one…”
Do you know what he told me? He said; “my dear brother, all that was put together that gave us these figures are not physical things you can see on ground”. But ordinarily, there are some indices that when you put together, it will give us this figure. He gave me an example that if the federal government budgets to build a hotel for 100billion, and the contract was awarded, probably the government mobilized the contract with 5billion, when the report is being put together, even though only 5billion had been spent, the government takes the whole 100billion out of the government’s purse. If at the end of the day, the contractor refuses to do the job, the issue is 100billion went out for the project and was invested into our economy. I asked him if all the abandoned contracts were added and he said all even contracts awarded since the days of Buhari, Obasanjo and Babangidas of this world which were abandoned; everything put together formed the GDP that described Nigeria as the biggest economy in Africa. Are you not taken aback? Because I asked him one question that if Nigeria is indeed the country with the biggest economy in Africa, what is the per capital income of an average Nigerian? To which he replied that an average Nigerian lives below $3. I told him categorically that the figures were not realistic. If care is not taken and we are not taking the right steps in the right direction, we will only continue to live in a deceitful world. Don’t let us forget that United Nations in one of their reports says that 70% of Nigerians live below poverty level, leaving only 30% in the upper and middle class and as far as I am concerned we do not have a middle class in Nigeria anymore, we have only the lower class and the middle class meaning we don’t even have that 30%, we have just 10%. Therefore we have 90% living below poverty level. I know and I believe that is not the Nigeria of our dreams. The cost of everything either in naira or dollars or whatever currency compared to the per capital income of salaries of an average individual, you can not relate it to being the biggest economy in Africa. What can you say of a man who works thirty days in a month and earns N18,000 with three children, his children have to go to school, be clothed and fed, he has to provide all the basic things and pay his house rent, how can that kind of man be a normal human at the end of each month? Yet he is working so hard to earn even that meager amount. So, once we can’t relate what we earn to what we spend, we can’t say that democracy has fared better than the military…there is nothing to write home about. If you ask me, I will say we are still under a military process but this time around, we wear no uniforms. That is the way our economy is being run and that is the way we are going about everything. I am of the strong belief that Nigeria democracy has not fared better, has not improved. It has not affected the Nigerians in any positive way. If we look at all the indices all the data, it is a pointer to the fact that we still have a long way to go in trying to have our own democracy. I will like to rest my case here. Thank you.
To be continued…