A former presidential aspirant and lawmaker in the Fourth Republic, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, in an interview discusses the state of the nation and solutions to the insecurity and widening socioeconomic gap in the country
In terms of security, economy and anti-corruption, do you think Nigeria is better or worse than it was in 2015 when the current administration began?
I’m not happy about the security situation. I am one of those who campaigned for this administration and I believe this administration can deliver, so we need to cooperate. One of the ways is for us to have a new constitution. Whether it is the People’s Democratic Party that comes back or another party, with this type of constitution we are using, it would be difficult to satisfy the yearnings of Nigerians. It is the constitution that is at fault and that is what we must correct. We have men in the All Progressives Congress who are capable enough to deliver the goods, it is the constitution that is our headache.
What would you say to people who claim the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), refuses to listen to the yearnings of the people and may not heed the calls for a new constitution?
I don’t think the President is a man who doesn’t listen. But the fact remains that it has not been up to three weeks that the (southern) governors (banned open grazing in their states). By the time 17 governors in this country, covering the entire South (take a position) with this statement that I’ve made, which is what people have been saying individually and as groups, I’m sure those who are advising the government will certainly advise that they should take a second look. We are not just saying this for the sake of saying it. I’m sure he is a man who will listen. I know he will listen.
If restructuring is implemented, do you perceive any losers or winners?
Everybody will be the gainers, I don’t see anybody losing by having a good framework. That is what helped America. Even the blacks are not losers in America today. At least, a black man has been president. If their constitution was not elastic enough to accommodate everyone, it would have been difficult for a black man, who is a minority and in fact of direct African origin, not a third or fourth generation African descended from slaves. So, there will be no loser. All we have to do is to cooperate to make it work. That is what helped America. Everywhere Americans are, they put their country first because the American government will do anything to protect the interest of their citizens anywhere they may be. Let us put our constitution right. Let it be a constitution of the people and not a military constitution. We have said goodbye to military rule, we should say goodbye to their constitution.
Are you not worried that there are people who benefit from the current structure as well as the ongoing conflicts and they may not support any change?
If what you say is true, then those people should think twice because it may be a pyrrhic victory, that is, something you gain now and makes you happy only to find that you will lose multiple of it in the near future, sooner than you anticipate. If you’re gaining something at the expense of the masses suffering, someday, they will look back and strike you. He who stands should be careful lest he fall. That is why all those ancient empires never lasted, they all collapsed. So, whoever has an advantage had better use it carefully because someday, something will snap. We’ve seen a warning shot in the #EndSARS protests. Those who are familiar with history will remember the French Revolution of the 18th century. It was what led to the rise of Napoléon Bonaparte. It’s not what you aim to achieve that you eventually get once force is introduced in the midst of human dissatisfaction. You cannot suppress human beings all the time, so one has to be very careful.
The President recently complained that despite his orders to shoot anyone with an AK-47 rifle, banditry was still festering. What do you think is the problem?
It is the commanders, soldiers and military officers he gave the orders to that should either shape up or ship out. It’s as simple as that. The President’s order must be obeyed, so the commanding officers that the President gave the order to must either shape up or ship out. They have to carry out the order of the President. There are no two ways about it.
What should be done if they don’t comply?
They know. They have to resign or they will be sacked.
The President has expressed his desire for another loan of $6bn to finance the 2021 budget deficit of about N5tn. Do you think that is justifiable?