The principal partner of Mogaji Ngeri law firm, Oba Abdulkadri speaks in this interview with our JUDICIARY CORRESPONDENT, KAYODE ADEOTI on why Nigeria is not ripe enough to enjoy true democracy among other issues.
Looking at Nigeria’s democracy from the legal perspective, would you say it is practiced in its true sense?
Since we are in democracy and the constitution being the grand norm of all laws is not offended, then I will say we are practicing it well. But, in this country, our democracy is still young; we are still evolving, still growing. In this sense, we can’t say we’ve gotten to that level of perfect democracy. For instance, in this country, we don’t give room for freedom of expression. If you give contrary opinions over some issues, you might be inviting wrath or trouble. Apart from the three arms of government, there are agencies the executive arm of government put in place to run the affairs of government, these agencies need to be independent, sharpened and improved just to better our democracy. For instance, the police needs to be more independent, the constitution provides that the state commissioner of police must be answerable to the governor of that state. That constitution now say if the state government should give commissioner of police an order to carry out certain assignment, if he (commissioner of police) now inform the governor to get approval from the presidency before he could do the governor’s bid, where is now that privilege? The governor has to do what is lawful through the police. Even the EFCC, I believe they still need to be more extended. When you’re bringing police person to head anti-graft agency, is that a complete independence? Are you saying the man is not answerable to the Inspector General of Police (IG) or the person next to him? The case of Nuru Ribadu, there was a time the IG wanted to give him an order and he was saying he is not under him. But, they made him realised that he was still answerable to the police and that was why he was seconded to do training course and afterwards, he was sent away.
Kwara at 58, looking at the states created that same year in terms of development, what has impressed you?
My opinion is subjective; to me Kwara has actually tried. When the state was created 56 years ago, it comprised part of Niger and Kogi. It was more or less the largest state as at that time. It was very difficult to see substantial development. But, relatively if you look at it from 1999, I will say Kwara has improved.
The whistle blowing initiative seems to have gone into oblivion, what happened?
First, I will give kudos to the Federal Government for initiating the whistle blowing policy. It has assisted the government greatly in the recovery of looted funds. Recently, a friend of mine who runs a private business said he introduced the whistle blowing policy into his business and that he has been reaping the fruit. I will salute the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) but I will also give the agency word of caution, as 2019 election approaches, it should reduce the media war against individuals, its actions will be made known through its works to the public.
Will you support ex-political office holders taking up higher responsibilities at the Federal level?
The issue comes in two ways, first, when you have experience people manning the organs of government, you will be sure that their experiences will count. To be frank, governing this country need experience hands; this means somebody who has governed a state before is assumed to have gotten rudiment experience to function at a higher level. If they are actually honest and truthful, using the wealth of experience they’ve garnered at the state level, then it will be an asset to have them at the legislative. But in another way …when at your prime, you’re the governor of a state, also, at your old age, you’re a lawmaker, when would you give the youth benefit to serve and enjoy this country? Yet everybody refer to the youths as future leaders of the country, when would they take over the leadership? Finally, my take on this is that, as a former governor, they are entitled to pension for the rest of their lives, why go to the House of Assembly to continue collecting salaries when some people collect none? I think we should fight this; they should not be collecting pension again. You ruled us for a number of years, that doesn’t mean you be taking pension for life. The question is, what did you contribute as a governor to your state? It is wrong and I think we should take it up one day.