You wrote an article recently which is titled “Egungun Be Careful”, and I could remember correctly that was in the contest of the End SARS protest. So who is this masquerade that should be careful?
Well the masquerade is the government and political leaders. The article was written in April and I indeed warned them that look what is going round in the country and there is tension, people are hungry, they are depressed and they frustrated. We need to be careful the way we address them much more the way they see them in the society that if we are not careful, any small thing would trigger a situation of unimaginable dimension and that’s why I said “Egungun Be Careful” before you go and find yourself on the express. And I sounded that note of warning as far back as about 6 months before the final event. So, it’s the government and the political class, the way they live, the way they conduct themselves and the way they even address the populace I think were of worry to me in that piece and I thought if that portion was addressed that we wouldn’t have been where we eventually found ourselves.
As a columnist with the Sun Newspaper, you also used the words “Kangun Kangun Kangun Akangun si bi kan”. Well I don’t know how to translate this?
It’s about the consequences.
So where do you think this Kangun Kangun Kangun will Kogun?
Well, where the thing is heading to right now, like I wrote in one of the aftermath piece that we are lucky this time around that we were able to tame the situation. We might not be that lucky next time. And that next time would be like a spring we witnessed in the Arab territory and we would have lost control and all possible would-be victim of it. So in order not to have that consequence, there is a compelling need for all stakeholders, for every Nigerian to now speak up and encourage dialogue at all levels and if possible correct the inequities in the society and find a way of true palliatives for the people otherwise, we continue to sit on a gun powder.
This is Lagos which is considered as your constituency. A few days ago, the Lagos state governor said he was putting up a proposal before the House of Assembly to ensure that the Pension Law of 2007 is repealed whereby former governors, former deputy governors, former potentate in Lagos state would no longer collect pension, ensure privileges, a house in London, a house in Abuja, a house in Lagos, medical care for their family, rent collection for life as it were. I don’t know whether you are part of this rent collection cloud. But what do you think? What is your position? Have you been collecting rent too?
(Laughing out loudly) It seems to me in the first instance that the cancellation is even a bit belated but thank God that it’s coming ultimately. Right from day one I have always been part of the proponent of that particular law. In fact, the danger in it is that, maybe you are not aware even the speakers of the House of Assembly are already bidding their own saying they too must be entitled to the same thing. These are people who during the electioneering campaign period would go to the populace to beg and prostrate and say I want to serve you. Please allow me to have the opportunity to serve you and having purportedly or allegedly served us, they wanted to put themselves as a burden on us. That is unfair, it’s wicked as far as I am concerned. It is reckless. In fact, I used to tell some people that by the time we have ten administrations in Lagos state, more than half of the state revenue will have to be used to service them. Then where are we heading to. So, it is totally condemnable, it is good that the thing is being set aside and I think it started with Zamfara. The Zamfara governor was the first who kicked against it to say we would not pay anybody that kind of a money and I too agree. Now imagine someone who had worked for thirty-five years or up to sixty years in the civil service still struggling to get his own gratuity or pension, crying all over the whole place, queuing endlessly, out of one bureaucracy or the other people dying for their own pension. You went there for four/eight years and you want to cart away the entire pot. So I think it is unfair. It is something that must be deleted all over the whole place. It is a law that must be repealed as a matter of urgency all over the country and that is my very strong position.
Have you too been collecting some rents? You were a Commissioner 3 times, you have been Chairman AMCON, what are you collecting? Is there any guarantee that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu coming out and saying, oh this is a good move, would guarantee that that law would be repealed?
Well I don’t think they have a choice at this stage Having made that pronouncement, they can’t reverse themselves again. Except the House of Assembly members want themselves lynched by the people again. You know the tempo in town now is not what anybody will toy with again. In fact an average politician hardly sleeps in his house again, I must tell you the truth. So I don’t see a situation where anybody will reverse that situation. In fact, they must quickly do the needful to actualise the governor’s proposal. And for me, I have not been privileged to be in that position. If I had been, I would have been in a position like Fashola, because there are some things that are morally condemnable and your conscience must worry you about it. That no this one does not belong to me and that is my view on it.