Bamidele: Tinubu Represents Right Leadership Nigeria Needs in 2023

Nigeria recently attained 62 years of Independence with little to show for it in terms of genuine development, What is your take on this?

Well, basically, my own short response to that will be that I believe that Rome was not built in a day and I will always make reference to where we came from so that we don’t forget who we are.

Yes, we want to be in a position of leadership within the comity of nations, yes we want to be that kind of country where there will be rule of law, we want to be that country where there will be justice, we want to be that country that no man is hungry and we want to be that country where law abiding citizens, will be able to wake up and do their businesses and go to bed at night with their two eyes closed and been able to sleep. That is the country we want to be and that is the country our forefathers struggled and fought so hard to secure from foreign domination in the name of colonialism.

But the truth about it is we will get there and to understand how our situation has been this precarious, we must understand that we emerged from a national history of over 300 years of slavery and slave exploitation as a people and following this, was another 100 years of colonialism and colonial exploitation from 1861 to 1960 and so for 400 years and over, our history was a history of exploited people, a history of people in despair, a history of people who did not have opportunity to decide how they want to fashion their life, what they want to do with the nation or define nationhood in their own way.

But can we continue to blame everything on the past, no. It now brings us to the situation of how we have managed our affairs from 1960 to date.

Again, what kind of foundation did we get. Upon independence, less than six years after we became independent and we had some form of civilian rule, we had a military coup and again the military took advantage of the teething problems of a nascent democracy to terminate the whole process. And that led us to almost 30 years again of military misrule in this country.

Where one corrective regime came in to take over from another corrective regime and that’s our story, that’s who we are. But thankfully enough in the last 24 years so to say, we have had an ongoing civilian rule.

Yes, what we wanted was democracy, what we desire was democracy, where we should be was in a democratic nation but do we have that democracy right now, I will say no. Because for me democracy goes beyond coming to an office through a process of an election, yes, that’s the beginning. But the best we have been able to have at the moment is a civilian rule which at least is better than a military regime being in place or a military rule so to say or military dictatorship and our hope and desire is that we graduate from the level of civilian rule that we have had in the last 24 years to a democratic stage where leaders will not only be elected through the ballot, the vote of the electorate will count and of course, as much as possible the leaders themselves will become conscious of the fact that there is nothing permanent about the opportunity given to them is a very nascent thing because you are voted in, if you don’t do what you are supposed to do you can easily be voted out because that is when the votes of Nigerians would have begun to count.

And still a cardinal element of that democracy will also have rule of law in place of rule of force and there will be press freedom, human rights will be respected and we will also have socio-economic rights that will not only be enshrined in our Constitution as we presently have but that will be respected. All of these together will give us a democratic state. That is the number one problem that we have.

We came from a long history of being abused as a people by slave masters, by colonial masters, and then of course by the military at some point and by civilian rulers who of course are yet to come to terms with the realities of the tenets of democracy and where do we go from here.

One, I believe that as much as possible we need to hold on to what we have, rulership through the ballot and of course, the leaders become more accountable to the people.

What type of leadership do you expect Nigerians to go for through the ballot in 2023?

My own understanding of what Nigeria needs right now is a president who has the scientific understanding of what’s to be done, scientific understanding of what is wrong, the antecedent of having been able to fix broken communities, broken states, broken situations and who has a scientific understanding of the workings of the economy because a lot of the problems that we have, are traceable to the economy.

If the economy is buoyant there will be employment, if there is employment, the socio-economic implication of that is crime rate will go down because more able bodied people will be able to survive either as business entrepreneurs or people are engaged by companies or government agencies where they can build a reliable career.

As much as possible we also need somebody who will have the courage to take decision without minding whose ox is gored and without setting out to either protect any particular religion or tribe or group of people.

We need Nigerians to come to terms with the reality of the fact that our search should be for someone who can help fix this economy not someone who is coming to protect any particular religion or somebody who is a product of a particular religion but somebody who decisively understands what it takes to turn a nation like ours around so that we don’t get left behind by the rest of the comity of nations, that’s a genuine concern I nurse.

In a nutshell, the person with such track record of turning things around for good is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu going by the Lagos model. He has proven to be problems solver through efficient and effective management of human and material resources. It is not about party, religion, ethnicity or region but about required knowledge, experience, competence and capability which he enormously possess.

But Tinubu’s party, APC, is finding it difficult to take off as far as campaigns for 2023 presidential election are concerned. What really is the problem as a member of the party?

Yes every other party is on the run while APC is yet to take off but the fact of the matter is that APC is the party to beat in that election which to me looks impossible for the other parties with the candidature of Asiwaju Tinubu.

The issues at stake within the APC family as far as composition of Presidential Campaign Council is concerned, are being addressed and will be resolved soonest.

We were not pretending the fact that we needed to mend fences. It wasn’t about the question of people fighting. It was a question of people trying to insist on the right thing being done and having done the right thing we also are not going to pretend that there were no issues to address.

So the leadership of the party felt and the presidential candidate felt it was important to make out time to address these issues.

And that been done, the next thing to do was to put in place a proper campaign council so that we could set the whole campaign process on a pilot system.

We are going to spend the next four months running a campaign in 774 local governments across the country and once we take off, will not be time to start coming back to say oh, should we have made this person the DG of the campaign. This is the time to do all of that. And in the process of even trying to do it, there was also a leakage which can happen in politics.

What was a leakage was also mistaken to be the final selection of the population of the various campaign structures of the party and some felt no, the structure needed to be differently populated or some people felt their own nominees had not been included.

Our own desire is that no time can be too much to spend on ensuring that we all get to that point and we are there. We are putting the final touches to it.

Despite the seeming delay in starting the campaign, let’s be mindful of the language of our law and of INEC. Simply put, political parties will not be a violation of the law by engaging in political campaign anytime from the 28 of September. That’s the law.

The law does not say parties must commence their campaigns on the 28th. But parties were at liberty to commence. And for us it’s more important to really get it right from the beginning before we even take off.

As a serving Senator of the 9th Senate, how would you assess its performance , particularly on the Legislative Agenda rolled out in July 2019?

I agree that at our inauguration in June of 2019, we did announce to the world that we had formulated a legislative agenda on the basis which we will like Nigerians to assess by the time we are leaving office. And we have done all things that were humanly possible, one to stick to that agenda and two, to ensure that where we could we even did our best to go beyond what we had in the agenda based on realities in the country and developing issues. Part of the legislative agenda that we set for ourselves was to run a legislature that will work for Nigerians.

By having a legislature that will work for Nigerians, we had in mind that there were number of issues that Nigerians had longed to have addressed through legislative intervention, legislative action but had become almost impossible and we are determined to address such issues.

One of such issues was to address our economy in a way that we will be able to go beyond the economy itself being a monolitical economy that runs only on crude oil to ensuring that we are able to diversify it to bring on board critical sectors like agriculture and mineral development.

And by virtue of some legislative actions, amendments to some of our existing laws and oversight authorities, we were able to do that. Even though our effort at diversifying the economy which is also part of the effort of the Buhari’s administration at diversifying the economy had become checkmated by the situation of insecurity where people had to abandon their farmland and mineral development of the mining sites for reasons of insecurity which is a major blow to that desire and of course, no one is giving up on that.

Again through legislative action we also wanted to ensure that we were able to address the oil and gas sector of our economy which again as a monilitic economy, accounted for well over 80 per cent of our national revenue.

We wanted to be able to address that through the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, we made it clear from the beginning of this legislative assembly.

And to the glory of God, we worked so hard to achieve that. Today, we have the Petroleum Industry Bill signed into law.

That will count as one of the major achievement of the 9th Assembly and then of course, still talking about trying to change a lot of things through legislative action, we also felt the need to stabilise our polity by coming up with an enduring electoral law that will be able to not only stabilise our democracy but that will ensure that the votes of Nigerians will count, that will ensure that as much as possible, no big man will be able to bully the electorate of this country.

We put in the electoral bill. Again this is not something we had started, it had been lingering just like the Petroleum Industry Bill at least two or three other assemblies had been on this without been able to accomplish it and we succeeded in passing the Electoral bill which again had been signed into law.

As much as possible, we also had to look into other sectors of the economy. The AMCON Establishment Act and other laws that we had to also amend and the AMCON law has given AMCON five years to operate.

You are one of the privileged Nigerians bestowed with National Honours Award this year. How do you feel with the Commander of the Order of Niger ( CON) bestowed on you ?

Well to the glory of God this is a great development. I feel challenged. Because when you wake up every day just to do your own things, just be yourself, just try to be responsible, just do your work, nothing outside of you, believing you’re doing your work and then suddenly something happens that makes you feel recognised. It brings it’s own form of happiness, but most importantly, it imposes its own challenges because one the implication of that is that they are keeping an eye on you and on what you are doing.

Essentially, I will owe this award to God Almighty. I will owe to my family for their support and prayers and the youth of this country who gave me an opportunity to lead and I will in turn dedicate it to the less privileged and all of those people within the progressive movement including some of my lecturers in school, including some of my political leaders, including Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu who gave me an opportunity to serve and to excel. So everything came together to qualify me for this award but most importantly like I said, it’s not by might but by the grace of God. I return all the glory to God.