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2023: Nigeria Needs President With Contemporary Worldview – Adeogun

Adeogun
Hon.  Ade Adeogun.

October 17, (THEWILL) – In this interview with AYO ESAN, The Vice Chairman of House of Representatives Committee on National Security, Adejoro Adeogun, speaks on the security challenges facing the country, the anti-open grazing laws in some southern states, the ongoing debate on where President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor should come from and other issues affecting Nigeria at 61. Excerpts:

What steps should be taken to tackle the worsening insecurity in the country?

The steps to be taken are multi-dimensional. First, we need to address the root causes of our security challenges, which include poverty, unemployment and slow judicial administration. We must take urgent steps to build the capacity of our law enforcement agencies to address insecurity.

Most governors of the southern states have banned open grazing of cattle in their respective states. Do you think this is a solution to the persistent clashes between armed herdsmen and farmers in the region?

The ban on open grazing is a necessity, given the violence attributed to the activities of armed herdsmen across the country. The measure is being adopted to safeguard the lives and properties of farmers and other law abiding citizens. I am of the opinion that the states should support those engaged in the cattle business. I think the state governors should take steps to provide ranches, which are alternatives to open grazing.

The Southern Governors Forum has demanded that the South produce the next President in 2023, while the North is insisting that he should come from the region. What is your take on this?

The hullabaloo over where the next President should come from is the outcome of the distrust between the different ethnic groups in Nigeria. The fear that some groups dominate political leadership, while others are perceived as being marginalised is at the root of the clamour for the zoning of political offices. Sadly, the focus on these things that divide us takes us very far away from what should be our main focus.

Which geo-political zone do you think should produce the next President, if the presidency is zoned to the South?

As an individual, I am more concerned about good governance and national integration than where the next President comes from. However, given the prevailing distrust in the nation, I think the most appropriate thing to do is to reach out to the zones that feel most marginalised. For the sake of restoring broader confidence in the entity called Nigeria, the political class must deliberately take actions that are geared toward a lasting national integration.

The Peoples Democratic Party has announced that its National Chairman will come from the North. This is being construed as a signal that the party’s presidential candidate will come from the South. Do you think that the ruling All Progressives Congress should do the same thing?

The ruling party and an opposition party should not be expected to toe the same path, except where interests align. My advice is that you should not misconstrue the zoning of the National Chairman of a party with the presidential candidate. Please, look beyond media theatrics and read between the lines. It is a political game and the politicians themselves know it. I expect the ruling party to pursue a policy of fairness, not necessarily zoning.

Do you think the Federal Government is handling ongoing agitations for self-determination the right way?

Most of the agitations masquerading as separatist agitations are merely ways of expressing the displeasure with some aspects of governance. Most of these agitations arise from two issues: first, perceived political marginalisation and secondly, economic inadequacy. If we manage to address these two challenges, we will be moving towards eliminating the issues you described as self-determination. Although the Federal Government is handling the security aspect of these challenges, a lot more is desired to regain the confidence and trust of every Nigerian.

What is your assessment of Nigeria at 61?

Nigeria is like an elephant that has chosen to keep the company of antelopes. It will never achieve its potential until it occupies its proper place in the jungle. To do that, it must first understand that it is an elephant and not an antelope. Then it must rise up to take its proper place among mammoths, rather than animals of lesser potentials.

What are the solutions to the challenges facing the country?

The solutions to the challenges are good governance, a shared vision, a collective desire to live together in harmony and a shift in economic focus from being consumer based to production based.

Many believe the dearth of leadership is the problem of Nigeria, while others believe the followership is also to blame. What is your take on this?

Our leadership deficiency can be viewed from the perspective of cause and effect: bad followers beget bad leadership and bad leadership attracts bad followers. It’s like two different sides of the same coin.

Do you have any fear about 2023?

I absolutely have no fear at all. 2023 will come and contrary to the expectation of doomsday prophets, Nigerians will once more show the world that it has ingenious and peculiar ways of solving its own problems.

What is your view on the growing clamour for a generational shift in the leadership of Nigeria?

Should age really be a yardstick for leadership attainment? Should a potentially good leader be excluded on the basis of age? I really think what we need at this stage is a President with a contemporary worldview, who can unite all segments of the nation and bring all the citizens together,  irrespective of ethnicity, religion economic class, age or sex, to share in one common vision of unity and prosperity. Age, like ethnicity, should not be the overwhelming prerequisite. Rather we should be seeking a President with a pan-Nigeria vision, who is imbued with the capability to bring out the best out of our citizens, have an excellent understanding of macro-economic principles and understands the aspirations of the younger generation.

You seem to be one of the most visible members of the House of Representatives. What actually prepared you for your performance, considering your background before your foray into politics?

I have the benefit of a robust educational background, diverse work experiences and involvement in community activities, which served as part of my political learning curve. Perhaps the greatest preparation was the fact that I got involved in partisan politics to fulfill a divine purpose.

Would you say that you have fulfilled your campaign promises to the people of Akoko South East/West federal constituency?

Where I come from, it is said that a masquerade does not see its back. So I’ll leave the assessment of my performance to my constituents, who gave me their mandate. But if what the majority of the constituents say is to be believed, then I must have done excellently well.