For some months now, the issue of who becomes what in the forthcoming 2019 general elections in Nigeria has dominated discourse among citizens, the former Grand Khadi of Sharia Court of Appeal, Kwara State, Hon. Justice Oloruntoyin Muhammed however speaks with our JUDICIARY CORRESPONDENT, KAYODE ADEOTI on the need for the electorate to vote who will represent their hopes and desires in government among other issues. Excerpts:
Recently, Nigeria marked 58th years of independence from colonial rule, how will you access the impact of this democratic system in the country and also in Kwara State…?
Asking me to speak on our 58th years of Nigeria existence as an independent state is not out of place. We owe God an appreciation for keeping us moving inspite of all rigours and odds of life. There are some democracies that were not sustained and which today have collapsed. Ours is not breaking down but moving, it may be slow. What is happening now politically has never happened before, the reason is because the level of sentisation is high, everybody now wants to participate in politics. They want to be part of the process of making decisions that will shapen this nation for the better, for that, we owe God, lots of gratitude. We Nigerians as a whole are very active. We can also see the impacts of the independence in this political dispensation across the states. Many people are now part of the political system, they want to lend their voices and of course, make some changes where necessary. Looking at the political rallies going on across the states, one will see hordes of Nigerians that is to show that democracy is moving. 58 years of independence in the life of a nation is not much, America is now over 200 years still, they have issues. In Nigeria, we should allow ourselves to grow the process. Certainly, we are having challenges on the issues of security, corruption and the likes but the point is, by God’s grace, we will survive all the challenges.
I was asked to give a lecture recently in a university, I discussed our electorate and the political leaders in the lecture extensively. The leaders and the electorate are companions. The leaders drive the electorate but they shouldn’t be power drunk, they shouldn’t drive us astray. We, the followers too should not deceive them too because we want to collect their money. We are all stakeholders in this country and we should be able to stand tall and say we are Nigerians. I’ve travelled far in the world and I’ve seen that the best environment one can live is Nigeria. If one need to travel to some of these foreign places, a true Nigerian will wish to come back home because there is no place like home. The issue is that, we should just pray that God help us solve our challenges. There is no better place than here, we have everything moderately in Nigeria, our weather is very cool, all that is lacking is trust. We don’t trust our leaders because they don’t behave in a trustworthy manner, once they get to power, they become power drunk, they see all others as just anybody. If we are able to mobilise ourselves, we can change government to reflect our hopes and desires. To me, I don’t see anything wrong with Nigeria. If I have to rate the performance of our leaders from the Federal down to state, I will give them pass mark, one wouldn’t know that we have huge amount of money in this country until when this political campaign began. Politician bought nomination forms for millions of naira when millions of Nigerians are suffering, dying because they don’t have what to eat. I was driving along our GRA in the state capital recently and I saw vehicles painted with the pictures of a political aspirant, this is an aspirant that is not sure of winning his party ticket yet, and these vehicles are new, but if you examine the aspirant well, his people are suffering, anyone with a where-wither to help the society should do it in a good way. In our country today, civil servant are suffering, pensioners too. If we employ good management with the resources of the nation, we can achieve a lot. In India, they have national policy on what they use and the produce in the country. They are the brain behind tricycle that is now common in Nigeria. When I visited the country, it was the tricycle that picked me at the airport. The point I’m making is that, they know who they are, we should try and know who we are too and also live according to our limited resources. I wish Nigeria well.
2019 general elections is fast approaching, in the past, there have been cases of crisis, violence dominating exercise, what do you envisage in the coming poll and…?
The crisis and violence that occur mostly during the election is because our electorates have lost trust in the leaders, they believe they won’t do what they promised after they secured their mandates. Our leaders need to be God fearing and trustworthy so that people will reap the benefit of voting.
The issue of state police, since it was proposed has led debates and controversy among the political class, legal practitioners…?
We are not matured for that yet. Nigeria is just 56 years old, after we might have attained 100 years, we can be thinking of state police. For now, if we venture into it the political leaders may missuse it, for now, let us make use of what we have, we are not ripe for the institution.