Obafemi Olawale Ayodeji is one of the legal practitioners in Kwara state serving under Barrister John Olusola Bayeshea (SAN), in Testimony Chambers. In this interview, he speaks with KAYODE ADEOTI on the failure of the National Assembly to set up a panel that will investigate President Muhammad Buhari’s fitness among other issues. Excerpts:
The return of the president was welcome with agitation for his resignation, will you subscribe to that …?
I will start by appreciating God, for the fact that our President is back, and he looks better. Nigeria as a country, we are peculiar kind of people with our peculiar shortcomings. It’s quite unfortunate that our President could be out of the country for so long on health ground. The provision of law is clear, that when the President is out of the country on health ground for 60 to 90 days, there are some functions or duties expected of the National Assembly to carry out. They are to constitute a panel that will investigate the health status of the President, it is to know if he’s still capable to run the office or not. But unfortunately, in this country, we play politics with everything and that has affected us a lot. Another challenge we have is our multi-ethnic and multi-cultural settings. When the President comes from a particular section of the country, whether for good or for bad, the people from that region will always support him. Considering the northerners, especially the Hausas, they always support their people. It’s normal to fall sick, we are all human beings, not robots. Even robot get tired and die when the batteries are down. An average Nigerians doesn’t even know what is happening to their President, whether it’s headache or malaria. Because of this, a lot of things are not going on well with us. The nature of the ailment was supposed to be made known to members of the public but it was kept in secrecy. He’s our President and he must be account able to all Nigerians on daily basis because. President doesn’t enjoy any private life once he or she assumes the position. That is part of test of the office.
Are you saying the national assembly has failed to do the right thing concerning the health issue of the president?
I’m disappointed in the National Assembly, they have the legal duty to have investigated the President’s health but lot of politicking were rather deployed. But I feel they are legal bound to have done the right thing. It wouldn’t have harmed anyone because if the panel had been constituted, they could have still declared the President fit for the functions of his office. That would have settled that aspect of the law and many Nigerians would be satisfied. That would have justified that we have democracy system of government.
Would you subscribe to the clamour that vice President should continue running the affairs of the country?
I will not subscribe to that, there is a clear disparity between the President and his vice. It is not possible for him to perform the role of the Presidency. Though they claimed the President handed over power to his vice, there are still limitations to his functions. They made us to believe that things are moving fine, that is the political statement, nothing is working well. If the President feels he is fine since he’s back, we should support him to continue but if he’s not, he should kindly resign. Besides, majority of the people believes he’s better, so let him move on.
What would you say concerning yearnings of members of the public in Kwara state that government should stop execution of projects and face salary payment?
The issues we have with the state government, I will not want to particularise it to Kwara state alone, it cut across all states. If I don’t want to be cosmetics about it, we are to go to the root of the issue which is we, the people. After all, we voted this government, when they came to canvass for votes, they give us money, ankara, food and the likes. Once they win the election, the first few months, they will concerned themselves with recovering all what they’ve spent during their campaign. Unless we as a people resolve among ourselves to say no to the collection of money, food from the political aspirants, then we will be close to resolving the social vices confronting us. Whoever want to serve should approach the election with his luck and when he gets to the office, he will know that it’s God’s providence. Also, if he starts behaving in a strange way, you can hold him accountable, because you never collected anything from him. On the issue of project, people are clamouring that they don’t want project, but the state needs to develop. At the same time, I don’t see any reason why government should continue with the project when the people you are supposedly doing them for are suffering. If care is not taken, all these street lights will be stolen by this set of people in the society who needs food rather street lights. We need to go back to the root, and tackle the problems. The leaders should have the fear of God, after stealing so much money, they can’t take it anywhere, they should pity the masses by trying to do the right things. Take for instance, Kogi State government is owing its workers up to 15 to 16 months salary and the Governor declared public holiday for the workers because Buhari returns, this is mid summer madness.